Most puppies are looked after by their mother.
But in some cases that isn’t always possible.
Sometimes, mother’s tragically die in labour or soon after which means that you have a whole litter to feed.
But at other times individual puppies might be rejected by their mother meaning that you will have to step in.
And on other occasions, the litter might just be too large and Mum can’t possibly nurse all of them.
When a puppy isn’t being nursed by its mother, it needs to be hand reared.
And a popular puppy milk to use for this is goat’s milk.
But before I discuss how appropriate goat’s milk is, I want to talk about the importance of planning.
Failure to plan is planning to fail
If you are interested in using goat’s milk to hand rear your puppies, then you need to buy some in the days immediately before your pregnant bitch gives birth.
The reason for this is that if the worst happens and a single puppy or a whole litter end up needing to be hand reared, you haven’t got time to rush out and buy goat’s milk when you are faced with this situation.
Newborn puppies are way too vulnerable to wait as someone rushes out to the shop.
The goat’s milk needs to be in your house and ready to go.
And hopefully you won’t have to use it at all.
But let’s find out why goat’s milk is so special to puppies..
Why is goat’s milk the best milk for puppies?
Goat’s milk seems to be the most popular choice for dog breeders who hand rear puppies.
And the reason for this is that cow’s milk contains more lactose than goat’s milk and puppies are lactose intolerant and so they shouldn’t drink cow’s milk.
Lactose is the sugar content in milk and although there is only .5% more lactose in cow’s milk (compared to goat’s milk) that is enough to make a difference.
Puppies will digest goat’s milk easily and comfortably, whereas they will struggle to digest cow’s milk and it will lead to a lot of discomfort and bucket loads of diarrhea.
What does goat’s milk contain?
Goat’s milk contains a whole range of “goodies” for a growing pup.
Let me make a list of the top five nutrients:
Fat content 4%,
Vitamin D 12%
How long can a puppy drink goat’s milk?
A hand reared puppy should be on milk for a similar amount of time as a puppy who is being raised by their Mum.
And that is for the first three weeks, the puppy’s diet should be exclusively milk.
So our orphaned pup is only fed milk for the first three weeks.
After that soft “solid” food is introduced to their diet with milk to top them up.
This blend of soft solid food and milk goes on until about week seven or eight.
At which point the puppy no longer needs milk and is totally reliant on soft solid food.
What I mean by soft solid food is dry kibble which has been softened with warm water.
Of course, this kibble needs to be good quality puppy kibble- which is completely different nutritionally to kibble for adult dogs.
Should the goat’s milk be pasteurized or raw?
Whether dogs should drink raw or pasteurised milk is a source of debate. As humans we pasteurize our milk, killing off any potential harmful bacteria in the process.
However this is not so simple for dogs as pasteurizing milk also removes the lactase enzyme making it more difficult to digest.
There are also many who believe that once the milk has been pasteurised it loses many of its essential nutrients.
Raw unpasteurised goat’s milk includes probiotics which are very beneficial to your dog’s health, meaning that it can be a great addition to your dog’s raw diet.
Believe it or not the environment in which the goat is raised can have a big effect on the quality of its raw milk.
Goat’s that consume a lot of nutrients produce better quality milk, whereas goats that are not exposed to a wide array of nutrients in their diet produce poorer quality milk.
On the other hand however, pasteurised milk is widely believed to be a safer alternative for puppies due to their undeveloped immune systems.
The pasteurization of the milk is believed to kill off many of the potential harmful bacteria which can be found in raw milk. Pasteurized goat’s milk is also believed to contain plenty of nutrients, though not to the same extent as raw milk.
At the end of the day both options have their benefits so it is up to you. Should you decide to feed your dog raw milk, you will want to research where you purchase your dog’s milk.
Mass producers of goat’s milk may be more readily available, however they may not provide as good a nutritional value as what is produced by a local farm.
What other types of milk can puppies drink?
We have already discussed that cow’s milk is very unsuitable.
But there are other “milks” out there that you can use with orphaned or rejected puppies.
The most frequently used is milk replacer, which comes in powder form.
And these milk replacers are used far more frequently by breeders than goat’s milk because it is cheaper and easier to store than real goat’s milk- well unless your next door neighbour is a goat farmer!
The second alternative is a homemade puppy milk, which is mostly evaporated milk.
Yes, you heard me right.
The same milk that many of us old fashioned people pour onto our porridge!
Evaporated milk makes an excellent base for a puppy milk because it is packed full of fat and has the same consistency to “Mum’s” milk.
But it does need to be blended with water, egg yolk and natural yoghurt.
 How much goat’s milk to give a puppy?
If you are going to raise a puppy on goat’s milk, the secret is to feed them about half of their body weight everyday in milk.
Remember that very young puppies get fed several times a day (about every 4 hours) and so this amount will need to be divided up.
It is much easier to calculate how much milk replacer to feed a puppy because there are detailed instructions on the side of the tin!
 Is goat’s milk good for newborn puppies?
As I have written earlier, goat’s milk can be given to abandoned or orphaned puppies within hours of being born.
If for any reason that a bitch cannot feed her puppies, then goat’s milk is the way to go.
It is one of the things that as a breeder you should have in your emergency kit, ready to go as a litter is being born!
Before I finish, I just want to look at the use of goat’s milk with adult dogs
Is Goat’s Milk Good for Adult Dogs?
If you want to let an adult dog drink goat’s milk then just remember that it should not make up more than 10% of their diet.
It should be treated as a treat.
This isn’t because goat’s milk is bad for your dog (it clearly isn’t) it is just that on it’s own it won’t provide your dog with a balanced diet.
Raw goat’s milk contains natural minerals such as calcium, vitamins and enzymes, this helps to keep your dog’s bacteria balanced.
With balanced bacteria, dog’s can produce their own vitamins, process their vegetable fibre quicker while keeping their bad bacteria in check.
Goat’s milk is particularly good for sick dogs or sensitive eaters as it will help soothe the digestive tract allowing them to process their food better.
You can also mix in Goat’s milk into your dog’s dry food if they are on a kibble diet as this is great for their hydration!
Another great snack idea is to use goat’s milk in your dog’s favourite frozen dog treat recipe, here are some great frozen dog treat ideas.
Goat’s milk is also a great natural remedy for allergies, helping dog’s control their itchiness, shedding and flaky skin.
Fermented goat’s milk also provides even greater nutritional value for your dog. The fermentation process adds even more probiotics to the milk and can be great for your dog’s immune system.
You should also check to see if you dog is lactose intolerant before feeding your dog goat’s milk. Similar to humans, dogs can get an upset stomach from too much dairy.
If you are unsure of whether or not your dog is lactose intolerant try introducing dairy to them slowly and watching how they react to it. As goat’s milk is easier to digest than other types of milk, it is possible for dogs with lactose intolerance to be able to enjoy it.