A Guide to Weaning Puppies

A Guide to Weaning Puppies

Weaning your puppies is a big step for you, their mother, and the puppies themselves. It’s both a developmental milestone and a big step in the right direction in terms of their health and wellbeing. To find out all about weaning, how to approach it, and your role in the process, read on.

How To Wean Puppies

Weaning puppies usually starts at around three to four weeks into their lives. Up until that point, they will have been solely relying on their mother’s milk. Just like any major adjustment, the best approach is a gradual one. When it comes to weaning puppies, start off with soft, easily digested food, and moving slowly from there. You’ll often complete the process by around two months of age.

To begin with, separate the puppies from their mum and offer small amounts of food on your finger, or a bowl in her absence. It’s best to use a quality, recommended puppy food, and soften it with warm water to make it easier on little mouths. When you start weaning puppies, make sure you keep clean, fresh water available to the puppies at all times.

It's important to create fun, safe environment for weaning puppies

Creating a safe environment

You’ll be feeding your puppies little and often, so it will require quite a bit of work on your part, but it’s important to keep things fun, and enjoy it. Not just for you, but for the dogs, too.

Some people prefer to wean puppies individually, some as a group. It comes down to the litter in most cases. If little pups are losing out in the tussle for food, and others are gorging, an individual approach might work better for you. If they all happily share the bowl, group feeding is just fine. If anything, it can be part of healthy interaction and socialisation.

If you’re averse to mess, be prepared to weather the storm! Little paws will step through food, and you’ll find a surprising amount of their meals spread across both floors and puppies during the process. Just remind yourself that this is a good thing! It will encourage them to lick themselves clean, which can help entice reluctant eaters to try solid food.

Caring for their mum

It’s easy to concentrate on the puppies during this time, but the mother will need your attention, too. Her milk supply will have to be managed both to avoid engorgement or infection, and to ensure her general mental and physical wellbeing.

Remember, until now, she’s supplied practically everything for her puppies, but by slowly encouraging a little separation, you’ll give her time to adjust to the change. This will also enable her milk supply to gradually decrease.

Before you start the process, get advice from your vet, and create a solid plan. This should include a feeding schedule for both puppies and their mum. It goes without saying that while feeding her pups, the mum will need extra calories, but this will need to be stepped down bit-by-bit as she produces less milk.

Orphan puppies in a whelping box

Caring for orphan puppies

The ‘how to wean puppies’ question gets a little trickier when thinking about orphans. The time to wean is still the same as above. But you’ll also need to bottle feed up to that point, while you gradually introduce solid food. It goes without saying that round the clock care steps up a notch in these cases, and a good schedule will help you to no end.

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