Weaning Puppies: What Should Be Followed When Transitioning to Solid Food?

Breast milk is, in the beginning of life, the best thing a pup can get from its mother. It is full of the nutrients it needs to grow and develop properly. However, as the offsprings grow, milk needs to be supplemented with other food, so they are gradually fed with solid food, too. This transition should be systematic so that puppies can get used to it without any problems. So what should be done and what should be taken care of throughout the process?

Step by step
„Puppies usually start eating supplementary food between the third and fourth week of age. The process should be gradual, starting with soaking and blending the dry food and then slowly switching to it as is. This usually happens in the seventh week of the dog's life. The puppies then go to their new homes used to dry food," says Antonín Kadlec, a breeder. 

Quality Dry Food and Plenty of Water
It is important to pay attention to the quality of the dry food the dog gets. Especially in the first weeks, dogs need important nutrients and the ratio of them needs to be well-balanced, so that their body can develop and grow properly. In addition to the quality, it is important to focus on whether the puppy likes the dry food and mainly if it is suitable for it – it can be easily said so from the stool. Another important factor is drinking. “Obviously, puppies need access to water so that they can drink after eating the dry food. We check our puppies for the whole time of weaning and we look out for them so they don’t choke when feeding,” explains breeder A. Kadlec. 

The Size of the Food Ration and Dividing It
The frequency of feeding is also different for puppies. While adult dogs should get food once to twice a day, puppies should eat more frequently. “In the beginning, we let puppies eat as much as they want because they are still breastfed, but after the fourth week, we divide to food to five meals, so they eat five times a day, and we wean them so their mother only comes to play with them. In their eighth week of age, when puppies go to their new homes, they eat three to four times a day," says the breeder. 

Be Careful about Overfeeding
Sticking to adequate food ration is particularly important for puppies. There is a risk of putting on weight which might even lead to obesity, but too much food also means great burden for their bones which might not be able to take it and break. Therefore, always ensure that you respect the recommended food ration which depends on the size of the dog, its age and also its condition. Active dogs will need more food than those who go for shorter, less frequent walks. 

Feeding as a Ritual
Regularity is very important for dogs. Feeding should therefore be a ritual. Try to administer the food ration at the same time, in the same place and in the same way. Besides the dry food, there should always be a bowl of water and a dog should have access to it all day. However, dry food should be only given to a puppy at the time of feeding. 

The Same Type of Feed
The first moments in the new home come with new experience for both sides – the owner as well as the dog. If you got a puppy from a breeder, be sure to find out what dry food (s)he gave to dogs and try to respect this selection – at least in the first days. If you want to get your dog used to another food, the change should be gradual again. “When you decide to change the type of food, gradually mix the new dry food into the old dry food and watch the puppy’s reaction to it,” says Antonín Kadlec. 


 

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