Many people with a new litter of puppies are
unsure of how to start the weaning process. In fact, some do not even really
understand what weaning means or implies. Weaning refers to the process of the
puppies beginning to eat food other than mothers' milk or milk formula. There is
no magic trick in weaning puppies; most do this naturally.
A female dog is capable of supplying milk to her offspring for several months.
In the wild, pups will be born in the spring and may (in some situations) still
be nursing from their mother as the fall season arrives. They will definitely be
taking food from other sources, but the mother will still be producing milk. The
signal for the mammary glands to continue to produce milk is nursing or
manipulation of the glands. Following whelping, if someone massages the mammary
glands, they will continue to produce milk, even if the pups are taken away.
In today’s world, weaning is not done to aid the mother. Rather, it is done
because puppies generally make their way to their new home at about seven weeks
of age, and since their mother is not going with them, the pups need to have
their gastrointestinal tracts accustomed to eating commercially prepared foods.
In most kennels, puppies get the first taste of food other than Mom’s milk at
about 3˝ weeks of age. This may seem early to you, but after working with
numerous breeders and seeing many litters raised in our own homes, we can
guarantee that the puppies of any breed can take food on their own at this age.
To make a puppy mush, we stay with the same brand of food the mother is fed,
selecting the company’s dry puppy food. It might be Iams, Purina, Science Diet,
Nature’s Recipe, etc.
Prepare the puppy mush by placing 2 cups of high quality dry puppy food in a
blender with 12.5 oz liquid puppy milk replacer and fill the rest of the blender
with hot water. This should be blenderized until the consistency of human infant
cereal. (This feeds 6-8 puppies of a medium-sized breed.) The puppies should
receive 3-4 meals a day of this to start. Once the puppies have checked it out,
walked in it, and have eaten some, the dam can be allowed to finish it and clean
the puppies off. Each week, increase the amount of food, decrease the amount of
the milk replacer and water that is added, and the time of blenderizing, so by 7
weeks, the puppies are eating dry food.
Once they are on dry food, it may be left in with the puppies (when the dam is
out of the box) or the meal times can continue. As the puppies eat more solid
food, the bitch may be let away from the puppies for an even longer period of
time. By the time they are 6˝-7 weeks, they should be fully weaned from the
dam's milk, eating dry food, and drinking water.
If the weaning is not rushed, the bitch will naturally start decreasing milk
production as the puppies increase their intake of solid food. As the puppies
begin eating the puppy mush at 4 weeks of age, start changing the bitch's diet
back to adult food to also help her decrease milk production. Start by replacing
1/4 of her puppy food with adult food. Keep increasing the adult food and
decreasing the puppy food until by the 8th week postpartum, she is eating only
adult food. During the last week of weaning, the dam's food consumption should
be less than 50% above the maintenance levels and declining toward maintenance
If you're new to pet care and aren't sure what weaning is, it's the process
where puppies start to consume food other than their mother's milk or milk
formula. There is no quick way to get your puppies to wean. Most wild puppies do
this naturally as their mother's milk production decreases and they become more
interested in solid foods their parents bring home. However, weaning your
puppies will take a bit more effort.
things you'll need:
Dry puppy food
Liquid puppy milk replacer
Know when to start the weaning process. Many experienced dog breeders start the
weaning process when a puppy is three to four weeks old. In most kennels,
weaning starts when puppies reach three and half weeks of age. Doctor Race
Foster, of the Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Education website, guarantees that
dogs of any breed are capable of consuming food by themselves at three and half
Prepare puppy mush. Stick with the brand of dry food that you fed the puppies'
mother. Put two cups of dry puppy food in a blender. Pour 12.5 oz of puppy milk
replacer into the blender. Pour in enough hot water to fill the blender. Blend
the mixture until it resembles a soft mush.
Transfer the food to a bowl to feed the puppies. This preparation feeds six to
eight puppies. Let them eat as much as they want. Their mother will finish
what's left in the bowl afterward. Initially, feed your puppies this meal three
to four times a day.
Increase the quantity of food every week, but decrease the amount of milk
replacer and water and the blending time each week. This way, the puppies become
accustomed to drier food each week. As they start consuming more solid food,
they'll nurse less often. With this process, your puppies should be completely
weaned to dry food in seven weeks.