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As much as we want them to stay puppies forever, at some point our dogs have to grow up. Part of that process is weaning them off of their mother’s milk and introducing them to puppy food. This can be a difficult process since you don’t want to wean them too soon and you want to make the transition to dog food as stress-free as possible. We’ve put together a simple guide on when and how to wean your puppies to help make this transition easier for you and your pups.
When To Wean
The most difficult part of weaning your puppy is to know when. Veterinarians recommended that you start weaning your puppy at three weeks old. It is important to start weaning them at this age because that is when they start to grow baby teeth, known as milk teeth in puppies. These teeth are incredibly sharp and can hurt the sensitive teats of their nursing mother. Also now that they have teeth they can begin to chew regular food.
How To Start The Weaning Process
To start weaning your puppy, you need to introduce the food slowly. Starting at three weeks old start putting out puppy food from them to try. You can encourage them by hand feeding small pieces until they start taking the food themselves. You can help by getting their mother involved, feeding her a few pieces to show them that it is okay for them to try. Give them small amounts initially so they get used to eating them and their digestive tract adjusts to the new food.
How To Wean Your Puppy
Once you’ve introduced the puppies to the puppy food, start incorporating more and more everyday. You also may consider breaking the food into smaller pieces or soaking in warm water it so it is easier for your puppies to eat. You can also include soft canned food as well. During this time it may be a good idea to separate the pups from their mother for short periods of time so they cannot be reliant on her for a source of food. As your puppies eat the food praise them and reward them with attention so they know they are doing good.
Gradually keep increasing the amount of puppy food for about four more weeks. Try to keep your puppies on a strict routine, balancing them against the feeding schedule of their mother. The mother needs time to heal from nursing and to let her milk production dry up. Mothers may also start denying puppies the ability to feed as a way to encourage them to start finding their own food. Helping the mother keep a good schedule and watching for signs that she is ready to wean can help you know how to help. Remember that you are working with the mother to help her puppies find their independence.
By seven to eight weeks old your puppies should be fully weaned off their mother. During this time it is very important to monitor your puppies. Make sure that they are gaining a good amount of weight and growing normally. Also you want to make sure they do not have any vomiting or diarrhea which could be a sign they are not taking well to the food. If any problems should arise during this period with your puppies, consult your veterinarian immediately.
How To Wean An Orphan
Some puppies will be reared without their mother. In those cases the puppies are usually bottle fed until they are old enough to begin to wean. The process of weaning a bottle fed puppy is very similar to weaning a puppy off their mother. You begin the weaning process at three weeks slowly introducing food with lots of encouragement. In cases of bottle feeding, it is helpful to mix some of the bottle milk formula with the puppy food. Follow the same schedule as you would with any other puppy, gradually weaning them off bottle milk and onto puppy food by 7-8 weeks old.
The Best Food For Weaning
Puppies have different needs than full grown dogs. Since puppies are still growing, their food needs more calories, more protein, and more fat than regular dog food. Therefore, dog food manufacturers make dog food specifically for puppies, known simply as puppy food. Puppy dog food is available everywhere regular dog food is sold and meets the specific needs of a puppy. You do not want to feed your puppy dog food because it may not meet the required nutrition needs and may lead your puppy to be malnourished and at risk for health issues. Puppy food is also smaller and easier to chew and digest than adult food. If you want to find the best puppy food brand you can check online and read dog food ratings and dog food analysis. Ultimately, the best dog food you can get for your weaning puppy is simply a high quality puppy food.
Weaning your puppies can be a real challenge for first time puppy owners. The best approach to weaning is really to just take your time, keep to a schedule, and make sure your puppy is adjusting to the new food. Weaning your puppies is a team effort with their mother so also make sure that you are working with her at every stage. These same rules apply to puppies that are being bottle fed. So with a little planning and patience during the weaning stage, you can make sure your puppies grow up healthy and happy. Now if only we could figure out how to keep them from growing up at all!