Although many breeders wait until a litter is at least 8 weeks old before sending the puppies to their new homes, it’s still possible to adopt a puppy at 6 weeks of age. This is a tender time in a puppy’s life, but you can ease the transition by offering her a nutritious diet that she can chew and digest without too much trouble.
By 6 weeks, most puppies are weaned and eating on their own as long as their owners have been providing solid food. Around 4 weeks of age, many mother dogs become reluctant to nurse their puppies, which now have tiny razor-sharp teeth. When the mother dog stops feeding her litter, the breeder offers dry puppy food, moistened with a little water.
Puppy foods are manufactured for large, medium and small breed dogs, each with different nutrient ratios and chunk sizes that are appropriate for the jaw strength of the different breeds. Puppy food for large breeds is typically a little lower in fat, protein and calcium than puppy food made for small breeds. Your vet can recommend the brand best suited for your puppy's individual health needs.
If the breeder or the shelter didn’t give you a small complimentary bag of the food the puppy was eating, call and find out what it was. A puppy’s digestive system is still immature and switching puppy food brands, on top of the stress of moving to a new home, can result in indigestion and diarrhea. By adding a little of the new food to some of what the puppy was already eating, she stands a better chance of adapting without tummy distress.
Provide your puppy with a constant source of fresh water to keep her hydrated and healthy. This is especially important if adapting to a new puppy food is giving her diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration.
It’s natural to think that young animals will benefit from drinking milk, but cow’s milk typically causes diarrhea in dogs. If a 6-week-old puppy refuses to eat dry kibble softened in water, try moistening it with a little warm goat’s milk. Alternately, soften the food with a milk replacement formula designed for a puppy’s digestive system.
As a new puppy owner, it’s natural to want to give your puppy all the love and food she wants, but overfeeding her isn’t a good idea. Follow the recommended feeding amounts on the puppy food sack, unless your vet recommends a different amount. Puppy food is high in protein to promote growth. In breeds susceptible to joint disorders, like dysplasia, too rapid growth can compromise the dog’s bone health. Feed your 6-week-old puppy four times per day. When she’s 3 months old, you can feed her three times per day and reduce that to twice per day when she’s about 6 months old.
- Petside.com: A Guide to Nursing and Weaning Puppies
- Possum Hollow Farms: Care and Feeding
- Canine and Feline Nutrition: A Resource For Companion Animal Professionals; Linda P. Case et al.
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