Weaning puppies is a natural process that takes place around 6 to 8 weeks of age. When a puppy is born his digestive system is very fragile and can only absorb nutrients that are easily digestible. These nutrients are provides by the mother in the form of milk. During nursing the mothers milk will change right along with the puppies. During the first 24 hours of nursing the mothers milk is mostly made up of a substance called colostrum. The colostrum is very high in protein and vitamins, it provides the puppies with protective anti bodies to build up their immune system. This will keep the puppies from becoming sick and getting infections. It is of utmost importance that the puppies get the colostrum in order for them to get a healthy start in their life.
The first week of a puppies life is considered the most important. The second most crucial would be the weaning period, and two to three weeks after that. This is the time that the puppies digestive tract has to change in order to adapt from moms milk to solid food. You should try to make this adjustment gradually and let it also happen naturally. Forcing a puppy to eat solid food sooner than he wants can cause stress.
At about 3 to 4 weeks when they are able to move about with ease, you will see the puppies start to try to eat a little of moms solid food. When you see this happening, start to feed the puppies a little food of their own in a pan. This will accomplish a few things.
1. It lets you feed your puppy a food that is meant more for him and not the food his mother is getting.
2. It will help speed up the weaning process as your pups will already be eating some solid food.
3. It let’s you lesson the amount of food you are feeding your mother, as the pups will not be as dependent on her milk.
This also lets you become more social with your pups. Weaning is a learning process as the pups body learns to take in solid food. As with all learning processes the weaning process cannot be taught faster than the puppy is ready to learn. The food you give to your puppy at weaning has to be highly digestible and non irritating to his system.
Mixing equal parts of mothers milk replacement with some soft solid puppy food will usually do the trick. This is called a slurry and can be mixed with a fork or blended in a blender if you like. For larger breeds of dogs you might want to turn to dry dog food in combination with canned food. This will help the larger, faster growing pups get the nutrients they need. Whatever you use in your mixture, when weaning puppies make sure your quantity of milk is reduced gradually up to six to seven weeks of age. By seven to eight weeks of age your puppies should be eating solid dog food.