How to Tube Feed a Puppy: The Dos and The Don’ts

There are several reasons as to why a puppy may not be in a position to feed the natural way, through the mouth. It could be sick, weakly, or an orphan without a parent to take care of it. Whatever the reason, the poor animal still needs to be fed.

We can use various techniques to solve this problem. There is eye feeding, which is technical and needs much expertise to handle. Then, there is bottle feeding, which is the most common as it seems simple. However, it takes too much time, and things will be trickier when you have several mouths to feed.

The other bit is Tube Feeding, which is the focus of this article. Most people frown upon this idea as they believe that it involves surgeries and other procedures. On the contrary, this is the most straightforward process, and we shall teach you how to go about it.

Tube Feed a Puppy

Preparing for Tube Feeding 

As much as this procedure is not complicated, a wrong move may prove to be very hazardous. It is therefore essential that before embarking on Tube Feeding, you should consult your veterinary doctor. He should demonstrate and guide you as you start with your first pup.

You can complete feeding the rest of the litter under supervision.

Find out the weight of each puppy and determine how much you are going to feed each of them. Then, determine the length of the feeding tube, which you are going to insert, which should be the distance between the nostril and the last rib of the puppy. Then mark the Tube with a marker.

Repeat these steps every day that you will be Tube Feeding the pups.

The Tube Feeding Process 

As stated earlier, even though Tube Feeding your puppy is not that complicated, it is a delicate process with steps that you should follow to the latter. We have, therefore, come up with a simple guideline that you can follow to get things done.

The first thing you should ensure is that the Tube should not be small enough for the puppy to swallow. If this happens, the Tube will fold itself in the lung, and it would need an expensive procedure to remove it.

We have already mentioned that the Tube should be the length from the tip of the nostril to the last rib. You can locate the stomach right behind the rib, just a bit lower. Insert the Tube into the mouth and pass it across the tongue. If it is from left to right, you should target the left side at the back of the throat.


At no point should you force the Tube down the throat of the puppy, since you could get the wrong target and end up at the wind-pipe. Instead, allow the reflex action at the esophagus to do the job. Let the Tube slide up to the point where you marked with the pen.

As soon as you get to the proper location, slowly press the plunger onto the syringe to pump down the food. As soon as the puppy feeds on half of its meal, withdraw the Tube and let it burp. Then, reinsert the Tube and let the pup consume the remainder of the meal.

Once it has finished feeding, you should notice that the abdominal region to be round and full. Ensure the animal burps again before stimulating it to pass feces and urine. You can do this by gently massaging the perineal area of the pup.


You should be mindful of the pressure you apply on the plunger to push out the water or formula out of the catheter. A lot of force may lead to some damages on the stomach wall, so take your time to learn this art.

Feeding the Appropriate Amount

If the pup is tiny, 1cc of electrolyte solution will do the job. If the puppy is of average size, start with 4cc when it weighs one and a half pound, and gradually increase 1cc for the subsequent feedings. Your target should be 18cc per pound, but it is wise to start from the lower amounts and work your way up.

Problems That You May Encounter While Tube Feeding

There are various issues that you are likely to face as you Tube Feed your pup. We shall mention some of them, their causes, and possible solutions.


This occurs when you feed the pup with a poorly mixed food solution. It may also happen if you had not been paying attention to hygiene and had been using contaminated equipment.

To avoid this problem, always pay attention to the mixing process to ensure that you balance the content appropriately. The mixture should only be for the next 24 hours and not for any period after that.

Also, ensure that you wash all the feeding tools every time you are done with the feeding process.


If your puppy vomits while feeding, it may be because you are overdoing it and giving him too much. You may also be feeding him too fast, and as a result, the food piles up in the stomach quicker than usual.

It may also be because the temperature of the food is on one end, too hot or too cold. Once the puppy starts vomiting, you should stop feeding immediately, and if it persists in subsequent meals, consult a veterinary officer.

To avoid this problem, feed the puppy at a slow pace that it can handle. You should also be sure that the food is at an appropriate temperature.


You are likely to experience this roughly a week into bottle feeding. It usually is because the stomach of the pup lacks proper bacteria for digestion, and as a result, diarrhea occurs.

You can fix this by including some probiotic in the daily meal.

In Conclusion

We hope that this article has helped you understand the basics of Tube feeding a puppy. It is a very simple process which should take you only a few minutes to accomplish. Although it is simple, the risks are always there, and you should be cautious enough to avoid them.

As with any other life of a living creature, always have a specialist by your side just in case you run into any complications on the way.

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