How To Wean Your Puppy? Step-By-Step Tutorial
When your dog has a litter of puppies it is one of the best experiences someone can have. You now have a houseful of dogs that need attention and love, and this can lead to a ton of fun and sometimes, frustration.
One of these potential frustrations is weaning your puppies off of their mother's milk. A dog's milk only last for a few weeks, after which time it is important to have your puppies ready to move on to solid food so they can continue getting the proper nutrition.
This can be a very difficult process to do, and that is why we are here to help you today. In this article, we will cover the various steps needed in order to help you to wean your puppies off the teat and help start them on solid food.
What You Will Need
Before you start the actual process of weaning your puppies off their mother's milk, there are a few things that you are going to need on hand, as follows:
- About two cups of dry puppy food. (This amount may vary depending on how many puppies are in your dog's litter)
- 12 to 13 ounces of a liquid puppy's milk substitute. This helps the puppy to associate the new food with their mother's milk. You can find the kind of milk substitute in question at most pet supply stores and online.
- 1-2 cups of warm water.
- A blender or mixer/ mixer bowl.
- A shallow feeding bowl for the puppies.
Making the Puppy Food Mix
Before we get started on the actual weaning process, you may want to know how to make the puppy food mix that you will be using to feed the puppy.
Take the blender or mixing bowl and add the dry puppy food.
Follow this up by adding the puppy milk substitute to the mix.
Top off your blender/mixing bowl using the cup of warm water.
Blend up the mix until the food has a consistency similar to that of human baby food, which will make it easier for the puppies to eat.
Place the food mix into the puppies' shallow feeding bowl.
Steps To Take to Wean Your Puppy
Step 1: Change the Mother's Food
To help get the mother ready for the birth of her pups, it's a good idea to transition her from normal dog food to dry puppy food.
At about two to three weeks prior to the birth of your dog's pups, it is the right time to make this transition. The nutrients that are in the puppy food will help your dog to gain necessary weight prior to birth as well as provide the dog's milk with added nutrition for the pups.
In addition to this, feeding the dog the puppy food you plan to have the puppies eat themselves makes it easier for the puppy to transition, as their stomachs will already be accustomed to the nutrients in the food, making it easier to digest.
Step 2: Help the Puppies Become Independent
Separate the pups from their mother for a few hours at a time. By separating the puppies from the mother when you can, the pups will start to become used to being away from the mother, and in turn will become less dependent on her.
Some of the puppies may whine a bit at first, which can be heart-wrenching. Give them time, however, and the pups will start to become more independent a self-confident, making them easier to wean.
Step 3: Feeding the Puppies
Start offering the puppy food mix to the puppies at about three weeks. This gives you enough time to start the weaning process while the mother is still nursing so that puppies that may be slow to take to the new food still have an option available for feeding.
It is also important that when you start offering the food to the puppies, you do so AWAY from the mother. If the mother is still nearby for a feeding option, the puppy might choose to feed off of her than from the new food, which will make the puppy harder to wean in the end.
Step 4: Helping the Puppies Eat
Be sure to encourage your puppy to eat the new food. Most puppies won't need much egging on; placing the food in front of them should usually be more than enough for them to start munching.
Other puppies, however, may be a little slower to take to the new chow. In these cases, do your best to encourage them to eat the new food and allow them to get accustomed to the food themselves by sniffing it out and, if needed, even playing in it a bit.
DO NOT RUSH this process, however. Pushing your puppy too hard to take to the new food can sometimes lead to them flat out refusing to eat. This can lead to various health issues, including the puppy becoming malnourished, so try to be a bit patient with your puppy.
Step 5: Monitor the Puppies During Meals
Keep an eye on the pups while they are eating. While this can be fun for you, watching the puppies get used to their new meal, it is also an important task as it helps you keep an eye on the puppies health.
Pay attention to how the puppies act while they are eating, and pay attention for any signs of distress such as vomiting and diarrhea. If the symptoms become severe, you may want to hold off for a bit on the weaning process and consult a veterinarian before continuing.
Step 6: Increase Food Portions
Slowly increase the amount of food the puppies consume. As the puppies get used to the food you have prepared for them, they will start to nurse from their mother less.
During this time you will need to make up for the lack of nursing by increasing their food intake, so as to maintain a proper diet for the puppies. Start this by increasing the amount of food given to the puppies by about a half of a cup every few days.
Step 7: Switch the Mother Back to Normal Dog Food
As the nursing process starts to wind down and the puppies are feeding off their mother less, it's important to get the mother herself back on a proper diet.
At about four weeks, start switching off about a ½ cup of the mother's food from the puppy food to the adult food, which helps their digestive system to adjust to the change in diet. After another week or two, the mother's digestive system should be back to normal, allowing them to eat as they had before pregnancy.
Step 8: Completely Wean the Puppies
At around the seven-week mark, the puppies should now be used to the puppy food and should be completely off of the mother's milk. The mother's milk will also likely be dried up by this time, which will make feeding from the mother no longer an option.
At this time, your dog should be able to eat dry puppy food without issues, and they should also now be able to drink water. If you are still having issues with weaning at this time, it may be best to consult your vet for further options.
After your puppies are weaned, they should be ready to face whatever life they may be heading towards, whether it is staying with you or moving to a new family.
For myself, caring for and weaning puppies is something that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. It was a tough and eye-opening experience that required a lot of patience, but over time I learned what I was doing right and wrong, and was eventually able to wean all my dog's puppies in the end. Making this how-to article for you, I hope that I helped to make your experience go a little smoother than my own!
We hope that you enjoyed our article today and found it helpful. The early stages of a puppies life are some of the most vital, and getting them ready to be on their own by weaning them from the mother is a process that needs to be done for a puppy to live a healthy life.
If you have any concerns or questions, or just wish to share your own puppy-weaning experience, let us know in the comments section. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon! Don’t be forget to share this article with your friends and family if you’ve found it useful.
- What To Feed Puppies At 3 Weeks? Feeding Tips For Your Furry Toddler!
- The 8 Fastest Dog Breeds In The World (#1 Is Faster Than Horse!)
- When Can Puppies Drink Water? Tips For Raising a Healthy And Hydrated Puppy
- When Can You Give A Puppy A Bath? (This Is The Right Time To Do So…)
- Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much? Should Be I Worried?