Depending on which stage a puppy enters your life, different puppy feeding guidelines apply. A puppy grows very fast, passing through several life stages quickly. Be responsive to your puppy's special needs along the way.

Bottle Feeding Puppies

If a newborn pup is especially large, if there are many puppies in the litter, or if you have undertaken to adopt and raise a newborn puppy, you will have to bottle feed. For very small puppies, sometimes a needle-less syringe can substitute for a bottle. For puppies with larger mouths, your vet can recommend the appropriate type of bottle and silicone or rubber nipple. Commercial puppy milk formulas are readily available either from your vet or from large pet store chains. You can make your own formula-there are many to be discovered online - but check with your vet about the recipe you have chosen before using it. (Be sure to make a new batch every day to keep the food fresh.)

Heat the formula to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the milk drips, not streams, out of the nipple or syringe.

Feeding newborn puppies requires patience. Find a comfortable seat. Cradle the puppy in your hand or in a soft towel and introduce the nipple to his mouth. You want him to swallow the droplets from the syringe and learn to suck on the nipple, not flood him with formula and hope some goes down. Watch out for choking and avoid holding him on his back. Newborn puppies do not drink from their mothers lying on their backs, so such a posture would be unnatural.

Afterwards, mimic what the mother dog would do. Rub a little cotton ball on the pup's bottom to encourage him to defecate and urinate. After about 3 weeks, he'll take over in that area. Also, remember to allow your puppy a little quiet time after eating. Carrying him about or allowing him to play vigorously with family members could cause a tummy upset that causes him to lose all you put in him.

Newborn puppies generally need about 1 cc of formula per ounce of body weight every three hours round the clock. Since puppies vary greatly according to breed as to how fast or large they will grow, this feeding guide for dogs needs to be modified according to your individual puppy's special needs as outlined by your vet.

Weaning to Solid Food

At about 3 or 4 weeks, as you see your puppy begin to explore his little world, you can begin to introduce solid puppy food, but do not immediately stop bottle feeding. Ask your vet what brand of high quality puppy food she recommends. Buy the best you can. Remember, what goes in, especially at this early stage, affects your puppy's future health.

You can begin by spooning a little of the formula you have been using over the solid food just to get the puppy started. Offer solid food four times a day in small quantities and supervise your puppy's eating to make sure he doesn't choke or fall into the bowl. Discard uneaten food and put out fresh food the next time. Do not expect your puppy immediately to begin ...