Beagles are normally loving, nurturing mothers, but occasionally bottle-feeding a litter may be necessary. Whether the mother rejected the litter, died or suffered severe injuries during birth, or has an inadequate supply of milk, bottle-feeding will save your litter from certain death. Hand-rearing a litter of beagle puppies is stressful and time consuming, but keeping your puppies alive and seeing them through to weaning is a rewarding experience.
Wash and sanitize all feeding supplies with antibacterial dish soap and hot water. Scrub the bottles with a bottle brush and rinse well. Add clean supplies to a large sauce pan and fill the pan with water. Place on the stove and turn the heat to high, allowing the pan to boil for 5 minutes to kill off any remaining bacteria. Remove supplies from the hot water and air dry on a clean towel.2
Weigh each puppy daily to determine how much each puppy will eat. According to Ron Hines, DVM, PhD., puppies should be fed until their bellies are gently rounded, which requires approximately 25 to 35 mL of formula for every 100 grams of body weight per day. For example, a puppy weighing 4 ounces will eat between 100 to 140 mL of formula divided evenly throughout the day's feedings.3
Mix 1 part of powdered puppy milk replacer with 1 part purified water in small bowl, and pour the amount indicated in step 2 into a 4-ounce puppy bottle. Run a bottle of purified water under hot running water to warm it up, testing it on the inside of your wrist. If the water feels warm but does not turn your skin red, it is warm enough to feed. If the water feels cool, heat it in 30-second increments until it reaches the right temperature.4
Pick up the puppy and rest it on a clean towel over your knees. The puppy should be resting on its belly with its head cradled in one hand. Hold the tip of the nipple near the puppy's nose and allow the puppy to root around in your hand looking for the nipple. Beagles are scent hounds and even newborn puppies will quickly pick up on the scent of fresh milk.5
Let the puppy finish the bottle then pick it up and rest its belly against your shoulder. Tap the puppy's back lightly with your fingers to encourage the puppy to burp. Beagle puppies are voracious eaters and will suck in air as they nurse, which can cause colic and other digestive issues.6
Dampen a cotton ball with warm water and rub it over the puppy's genitals and hindquarters to encourage elimination. Females will lick puppies after feeding to encourage defecation and urination, and the warm cotton ball replicates this stimulation.7
Feed each puppy every 3 hours for the first two weeks, advises Hines. Reduce the feedings to 4 per day in the third and fourth week. Beagle puppies grow rapidly and will be ready for solid food by five weeks of age.