Weaning Puppies - The Quick Way to Get Your Puppies Eating Solids

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Weaning puppies doesn't have to be a headache. There are easy techniques you can use to make weaning a breeze. Puppies start their lives drinking milk from their mother. The next stage is semi-solid "puppy mush," and then, finally, solid food.

Breastfeeding puppies.

Weaning puppies doesn't have to be a headache. There are easy techniques you can use to make weaning a breeze. Puppies start their lives drinking milk from their mother. The next stage is semi-solid "puppy mush," and then, finally, solid food.

When to Wean Puppies?

You can start weaning your puppies off their mother when they are 3 weeks old. The trick is to switch them from mother's milk onto semi-solid puppy mush, made from dry puppy food or baby cereal soaked in water. If the puppies have been hand-fed up until now using milk-replacement formula, soak the dry puppy food in a little water to make it soft and mash it up with a bit of formula. It's best to avoid radical diet changes whenever possible. Don't try to change puppies straight from their mother's milk onto cow's milk as this may cause stomach upsets.

Puppy Mush

The puppy mush should be semi-solid. If the puppies have trouble lapping up the mush, try experimenting by making it more solid or more runny. You will probably have to hold the dish up to the puppy's face the first few feeding sessions until it gets the hang of it. Also, try to only feed 2-3 puppies at once to minimize mess and avoid having puppies walking all through their dinner.

Weaning puppies eating puppy mush.

How Often Should You Be Feeding The Puppies?

By the time the puppies are adjusted to having semi-solid food their feeding requirements should be reduced to 4 or 5 feeds a day. Use common sense for this - if the puppies are squealing at bed time it may be sensible to give them an extra feed to last them through the night, but by the time they are 4 weeks old, 4 feeds a day, once every 4 hours, should be enough. You can also start to serve dishes of water at this stage, but make sure it's a dish they can't easily knock over as they still won't quite have control of where they're putting their little paws. If Jack Russell pups can make a mess, they will.

By 5 weeks of age they should no longer need to feed from the mother (or milk replacement formula). The next step for weaning puppies is to start on chopped-up meat and moist canned dog food. This can be started at 5 weeks of age, or a little earlier if they seem to be adjusting to solid food quickly. But remember, always phase in a diet change slowly.

After 5 weeks of age you can start to let the pups play around outside, but don't let them out in cold weather and put down paper or a tarpaulin under them if the ground is damp. Don't leave them outside for too long and be especially wary of insects like mosquitoes as they can carry diseases that can harm the pups. Don't take the pups outside at dusk for this reason.

Ages and Stages of Weaning Puppies

The ages given here for different stages of weaning are a rough guide and will differ from litter to litter and pup to pup. Some pups will take longer to wean than others. If you have any concerns about weaning puppies, consult your vet.

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