Weaning is an important part of your puppy’s development. When your puppy weans, it means they move from relying on their mother’s milk for all their nourishment, to enjoying solid foods.
During the period of time from birth to puppy weaning, the mother’s natural instincts will often kick in. She should help the puppies to suckle when they are young, and gradually encourage them to look elsewhere for food, trying the puppy diet that is offered. However, if your female is struggling to feed her puppies you should speak to a vet for advice as this can indicate an underlying health problem such as mastitis.
Read on to find out when to wean puppies, how you can them to develop good eating habits and much more.
A puppy should stay with their mother and siblings for at least the first 8 weeks of their life. For the first few weeks they will only need their mother’s milk, or a suitable puppy milk formula.
Initially, your puppy’s sense of smell will help them find their way to their mother’s teats, where suckling should be instinctive.
During this early period, the mother keeps her puppies warm with her own body heat. When the mother temporarily moves away from them, they group together to make up for the loss of heat that her fur provides. She will also lick the puppies to keep them clean and help to stimulate them to urinate and defecate.
Human contact is also important during this early period, although you should try to get a balance that does not cause distress to the mother.
Weaning puppies is a gradual process which usually takes place from 4-8 weeks of age. Puppies will initially start to investigate soft puppy food, in addition to suckling from their mother. Later in the process they will start eating kibble, although these are often soaked to begin with. By the end of the weaning process, the puppy will no longer be feeding from their mother.
During this time, the puppy’s immunity is not completely developed and hence he/she will be prone to digestible upsets. Hence is it important to support your puppy’s developing immune system with PURINA®️ PRO PLAN®️ PUPPY, a formula enriched with colostrum, which is proven to support their immune defenses. PURINA®️ PRO PLAN®️ PUPPY has:
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4. Easy rehydration of kibble for weaning
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Puppy weaning food should be introduced gradually – starting off with small amounts. Choose the food which is appropriate for their breed size. PURINA®️ PRO PLAN®️ comes in Small & Mini Puppy, Medium Puppy and Large Puppy. Get your FREE PURINA®️ PRO PLAN®️ to start weaning in a healthy way!
From three or four weeks of age, encourage the puppies to try soft, moist puppy food, or prepare their dinner by softening dry puppy food with hot water, mashed it up and cool to body temperature. Feed it in a wide, shallow bowl for easy access. It can be quite a messy process initially as the puppies climb into the bowl and explore their food. Be prepared to clean them up afterwards!
Until this time, mother’s milk provides hydration and nutrition, so from around three weeks ensure the puppies have access to a shallow dish of fresh water.
The puppies may initially be a little apprehensive, but after watching their mother, they will get used to the new flavours. It’s best to feed little and often to suit their tiny stomachs. With time, the meals can be fed less often and the amounts increased, according to recommended feeding instructions.
Puppies can gradually move away from eating moist or softened food to eventually only being fed dry food, by gradually adding less water, if that is your preference.
If you’re new to puppy weaning, here are a few handy tips that will help both pets and owners get through this sensitive time together:
Puppy weaning can be quite chaotic with milk and moist food flying in all directions. Some puppies might decide rolling in their food is a good idea. Let them get familiar with the new meals, even if it ends up with dirty paws prints the floor.
To achieve a really smooth texture, you can also use a blender in the very early stages. When the puppy is ready to try a firmer texture, you can start softening dry kibble using warm water, initially mashing up and progressing to it being less mashed, until the kibble shape remains intact but still soft.
Puppies are both clumsy and playful, so chances are flimsy bowls will be turned over in all the excitement about trying their new food. Make sure the bowl is heavy enough to remain in the same place where you left it and not too deep that tiny pups can be submerged if they fall in.
It is tempting to offer your puppy more food than they need or their little stomachs can handle. The golden rule of puppy weaning is to feed little and often.
In a large litter, or one where there is a big difference in puppy size, it’s often a good idea to provide more than one bowl of food, so everyone eats enough. Weighing the puppies daily will help to ensure they are eating enough food and growing as they should.
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