Weaning puppies is the process of switching puppies from their mothers’ milk to solid food. This is a perfectly natural process, that would happen in the wild. The difference is that we’ll be doing it at an accelerated rate compared to how it would occur naturally.
Not that this is a problem. Puppies grow quickly, and as early as three weeks of age they’re ready to begin their transformation to a solid food diet.
This transformation doesn’t happen overnight, of course. We’re dealing with sensitive young tummies here, so we need to proceed slowly. We will look to have switched the pup over to solids by the age of 7 weeks.
Weaning puppies: how to wean, when to wean
When to wean puppies
The correct time to start weaning puppies is at about three and a half weeks of age. This may seem young, but most breeders start at this age so that, by the time the puppy is re-homed (usually at 8 weeks), he’s already eating solids.
When you first start weaning, take the mother away from the litter about an hour before feeding time. This ensures that the puppies are good and hungry, and more inclined to try something new.
How to wean puppies
To start with you’ll want to prepare a “puppy mush” which is semi-liquid so that it’s easy for the puppies to swallow and digest.
As a base, you should use the same brand of food that the mother is being fed. However, it’s important to select the puppy variant, so for example, if the mother is being fed Iams, buy the Iams Puppy formula. You’ll also want to choose the correct breed size, so large breed, small and toy breed, etc.
To feed six to eight puppies of a medium-sized breed, you can make a mush like this:
- Take two cups of dry puppy food and put it into a blender.
- Add 12.5 oz of puppy milk replacer (the liquid type).
- Add hot water until the blender is full.
- Give this mixture a good blend until nice and mushy.
Feed the puppies from a shallow dish. Most will dive right in (sometimes quite literally!), but if they need a bit of encouragement, put a drop of the food on their noses. Once they sample the food, and see how yummy it is, you’ll have no problem.
Feed the pups three to four meals a day. As they grow used to their new diet slowly increase the amount of dry food and decrease the amount of milk and water.
By 7 weeks, the puppies should be used to eating dry food, and will come to enjoy it.
Following these guidelines about how and when to wean puppies will make weaning puppies easy, and by the time the pups are 6 to 8 weeks old they’ll be fully weaned.