best way to wean puppies?
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Thread: best way to wean puppies?

  1. #1
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    best way to wean puppies?

    I'm fostering a dog with 3 puppies who are 3 1/2 weeks old. I read a couple articles online that say now's the time to start weaning. I want to do it right and am looking for any advice. The mom is tiny and I think by 8 weeks the puppies will be as big as she is! The dad might be a pitbull type according to animal control. She only weighs about 15 pounds and eats as much as my 60 lb. dog does, but in 5 meals a day.The puppies look great, little butterballs. They're just beginning to get some teeth. Should I get some milk replacer to add to ground up puppy food and water? I'll check with the shelter for advice too, but the more advice the better. Back in the day we used to start offering food at 6 weeks, last time I raised any pups was over 30 years ago! Thank you in advance...

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  3. #2
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    Re: best way to wean puppies?

    I've never raised puppies, just kittens. . .but they can't be too different, eh? Anyway, at first I start them on a smooth pate-type canned food mixed with a lot of formula, really soupy, in a shallow dish. They mostly stand in it at first , but eventually they get the idea. Then I add less and less formula until they're just eating the canned food. But I've mostly raised orphans---since your pups are still nursing you could probably add water to the canned food instead of formula. For the kittens I leave a dish of dry food out all the time, and when they're ready they start nibbling on it, but I don't know if that would work for puppies. For them I might start mixing the kibble with the canned food until they get the hang of it.

  4. #3
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    Re: best way to wean puppies?

    I have raised a couple of litters and have also been mentored by others in my breed with far more experience, so I hope I can help you out.

    I like this formula for supplementing puppies http://leerburg.com/bottlefeeding.htm Not a fan of everything on this site, but I do like the recipe and agree that goat's milk is much better for puppies. I start out like they do with formula first, then add some ground meat. After a week or so, I start introducing a quality puppy food in the formula instead of the meat. Gradually of course. Let it soak and get soft or put it in a blender. Over time I increase the amount of puppy food, start replacing goats milk with water, and decrease the amount of fluid. You don't want to make sudden changes, but it is good if they are able to eat dry kibble by the time they go to new homes. I am also a firm believer in using probiotics from the very first meal and I continue giving them at least daily. Puppies raised in a home and kept clean do not get the natural exposure to a bountiful and varied selection of beneficial bacteria. A wide variety of bacteria in the gut is linked to better health. There is a brand called Forti-Flora made for dogs, but it might be a good idea to have a couple brands and look for one with as many varieties of bacteria as possible. (if you aren't comfortable with the raw meat, you could skip that and start introducing the puppy food instead)

    At first just put some formula in a shallow dish and put it in with them and let them explore. If they really aren't getting into it, dip your finger in and then put it on their nose so they lick it off. Do this once the first day, then twice the next day and work up to four times a day. Then you are going to work on getting them to eat more and nurse less. Again, gradually. Start separating mom from pups for an hour or so before each meal, as often as you can. When you think the pups are ready, start keeping them separate at night. Keep increasing the separation times until by the time they are ready to go they only get time with mom after they have eaten a good meal. A lot also depends on the mother. If she is one of those dogs who naturally weans on her own, you don't have to be as strict about the separations. If she is one of those mothers who would nurse them as much as they want until they are six months old, you need to be more strict.

    There is a lot of playing by ear in raising a litter, every dog and litter is different. The main key to weaning is using a good formula, and making sure the pups are good and hungry when you offer them a meal. You want to stick with four meals a day, or maybe switch them to three just a few days before they go to new homes to make it easier on the new families. Keep all changes as gradual as you can, remember you have a whole month to get through this process. And if they are still nursing occasionally and just a little right up until they go to their homes, that is not a big deal.

    Good luck and have fun. The playing and exploring phases are going to start soon. Enjoy!

  5. #4
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    Re: best way to wean puppies?

    Thank you both for the replies, and for the link, most helpful. I made the formula and they are lapping it up! Maybe by tomorrow I'll try adding some raw ground beef - was concerned about the raw part, so went to a butcher where there is less chance of E. coli contamination, like in the big grocery store lots. After all, they're not really MY puppies. I haven't done the probiotics, but am hoping they will derive some benefits that way from the yogurt. So far mama continues to clean them up, but I expect I'll be taking over clean up duties as they begin to eat solids - it was nice while it lasted! And OMG, they are really getting to the cute stage now, playing, growling and exploring!

    So thanks again, and sorry it took so long to reply, home computer problems.

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