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Help your Puppies get a Good Start in Life by Helping with
Weaning is the process of puppies beginning to eat solid
foods along with their mother's milk. In wild canines it
usually proceeds in a natural process as the puppies grow. They
become interested in the smells of the foods their parents
bring home to them and the amount of milk their mother
produces decreases gradually. But with domesticated dog
puppies, you will need to help out.
Most experienced dog breeders begin the weaning process when
puppies are three to four weeks old and are interested in
foods other than their mother's milk. This is also about the
time the puppies' teeth are coming in and their mother is
usually happy to nurse them less as a consequence.
Hopefully you have been handling and checking over your
puppies regularly since they were born. But your careful
helping with their weaning process will go a long way toward
making sure that they are getting the best nutrition.
If a puppy doesn't get the proper nutrition during its
development it can badly affect its adult appearance,
health, and even how long it will live. And, since food is
the way to a dog's heart, your involvement will also go a
long way toward socializing your puppies to people.
Since you probably are not planning to keep all your puppies
for life, managing the weaning process and making sure that
the puppies adjust well is even more important. You want
your puppies to be able and happy to eat solid food by the
time that they are eight weeks old, so they will be able to
adjust to their new homes easily.
Most commonly, the breeder begins to offer the puppies a wet
mush of puppy food made from a nutritious dry puppy food
moistened with puppy milk replacer, three or four times a
Some other breeders advise beginning with a mix of rice
cereal made for human babies and goat milk (not regular
cow's milk) if it is available, otherwise canned evaporated
milk, for the first three or four days, then gradually
graduating to the wet puppy food. But some have reported
that their puppies didn't do well with the human food, so
consult with your veterinarian if you are thinking of doing
When choosing commercial puppy food for your weaning
puppies, buy one that is specially formulated for puppies.
The protein content should be between twenty-five and thirty
percent. Avoid brands that contain grains, especially corn,
as grain is a primary allergen in canines.
The puppies will eat as much as they want, and their mother
will usually clean the bowl and the puppies afterward. As
the weeks go by, the puppies will eat more and more solid
food and nurse less and less.
Some breeders also gradually reduce the amount of liquid in
the food with the aim of getting the pups to eat dry food by
the time they are eight weeks old. Others advise feeding wet
food for the first few months. You can ask your veterinarian
for advice about this.
During the weaning period, watch and weigh your puppies
carefully and make sure that all are getting enough food and
acting healthy. If any puppies seem to be having problems
with the weaning process, simply take it slower with them.
If the problem still persists, take the puppy to the vet to
have it checked out.
Once your puppies are doing well on the solid food and their
mother is not nursing them regularly, feed them a good
quality puppy food three times per day. Give the puppies
about an hour to eat all they want, and then remove any
If you are still giving the puppies moistened food (We
advise that you continue the moist food if possible.) use
warm water rather than milk, as milk can cause digestive
upsets in many puppies.
Feed the puppies in the same place and at the same time
every day and it will help with housetraining and other
training later. And make sure the puppies have fresh water
available at all times.
Also, remember to take it slowly. A puppy's digestive system
can't adjust quickly to solid food. If an individual puppy
is too young still and its digestive system and swallowing
ability hasn't developed enough it could choke on the solid
food or become ill. This is a learning process for your
puppies. Enjoy watching them learn and grow.
How you can help your
puppy live a long, long Life