Puppy weaning: at what age and how to wean a puppy?

 Puppy weaning: at what age and how to wean a puppy?

Weaning is an essential stage in the life of the puppy: it is the period of gradual transition where he will go from an exclusive milk diet (mother's milk or "materialized" milk in the event of artificial feeding) to a diet solid (kibbles, mash).
Logically, it is also during this period that the puppy will become emotionally detached from its mother, and this is generally done naturally and quite easily. So, how and when to support weaning gently? Discover the answers to all your questions about this key moment and the right steps to follow.

When to start weaning?

Weaning generally begins between the third and fourth week of the puppy's life. At this time, the mother should start pushing her babies away because she is bothered by their teeth during nursing. It is therefore a natural process and normally provoked by the mother, however, it may be good to intervene to ensure that everything is going well. Indeed, weaning conditions can have significant consequences on the health and quality of life of the adult dog.

The exact start of weaning depends on various factors, such as the number of puppies in the litter, their breed and size, and the nursing ability of the female dog. As a general rule, weaning will start around the third week for large and medium dogs, and rather around the fourth for small breeds. From the fifth week, when the baby's milk teeth begin to emerge, weaning must really begin. It will last an average of 8 to 10 months.

What are the signs of puppy weaning?

There are certain signs that weaning is about to begin and can help you determine the right time to guide puppies through this process. Thus, the mother gradually pushes her young back and the latter will have less tendency to seek the teats. They will gravitate more toward the mother's bowl and solid food as their appetite grows. In the presence of these signs, it is important to weigh the puppies regularly to ensure that none of them suffers weight loss, a sign of undernutrition. For the emotional balance of the puppies, it is crucial to carry out and accompany the weaning well because it corresponds to the separation of the little ones from their mother.

What are the stages of weaning?

Weaning should be done gradually and gently. There are three major steps:

1- Around 4 weeks

  • We can start presenting the puppies with mash or croquettes soaked in warm water to facilitate ingestion and digestion, to be served in several small portions. Some brands offer specially formulated weaning foods.

2- Around 5 weeks

  • Gradually increase the quantities fed to the puppies.

3- Around 7 weeks

  • Serve a maximum of 4 meals per day based on "growth food" adapted to the weight, age, and breed of the puppy. Leave permanent access to freshwater.

What difficulties can arise during weaning?

Babies may shun solid food at the start of weaning; if this is the case, rehydrate the croquettes with a little formula and crush the mash well if you give it. There are ranges of palatable food for the most difficult puppies. Be careful to keep the same growth feed throughout weaning to avoid digestive disorders. Once weaning is complete, switching to a new diet should also be done gradually.

What to do in case of early weaning?

Early weaning may be necessary if the mother does not have enough milk to feed the entire litter. In this case, it happens that she already rejects the puppies in the first month. Before 30 to 40 days, weaning is considered early. This situation requires taking over with the help of an adapted milk diet given by bottle ( do not give cow's milk ). After three weeks, the milk can be given in a bowl before starting weaning normally.

And the mother in all this?

Weaning corresponds to the symbolic separation of the mother and her young. To help this process gently, it is advisable to keep the mother away during the meals of the puppies. The separation must be gradual like the rest of the weaning: at the beginning, separate the litters from the mother for a maximum of one hour, once or twice a day. If it goes well, we can go three times and increase the separation time little by little.

During this time, leave the little ones with their food. If they get anxious and don't calm down after about 30 minutes, don't insist too much, they may not be ready yet. It is also possible to move the mother away while leaving her within visual range of the young and to give her her meal at the same time. The puppies will quickly understand that it's time to eat for everyone and will go to their bowl by imitation.

During weaning, keep a watchful eye on the puppies and check that they do not suffer from diarrhea or vomiting, otherwise you will have to consult the veterinarian. Upstream, it is good to feed the mother with the weaning croquettes that you intend to give to the puppies and do not prevent them from going to dig in the bowl if they do it by themselves. After 7 weeks they should be completely weaned and able to eat and drink on their own from their own bowl.

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