How Much Should Unweaned Puppies Eat?by Brandy Burgess
Unweaned puppies still depend on their mother’s milk for their complete nutrition. Momma dogs typically provide all necessary care for their newborns, but in some circumstances, puppies may not receive enough food. Understanding the average amount of food an unweaned puppy should eat can give you peace of mind knowing the pups are developmentally on track.
Newborn puppies generally nurse from their mother a minimum of every two hours during their first week of life. Until 4 weeks of age, the intervals of time between feedings will extend until the puppy is ready for solid foods. Puppies have a natural instinct to nurse and will continue to drink their mother’s milk until satisfied. If you are concerned about the amount your puppy drinks, consult with your vet about a long-term feeding schedule to meet your pup’s developmental needs.
If momma dog neglects her offspring, suffers from milk failure or if you have an orphaned puppy, the pup may need to be bottle-fed. Newborn puppies are generally fed with a commercial canine milk replacer specifically formulated for puppies. The average puppy requires 25 to 35 milliliters of formula for every 100 grams of body weight during the first week of life, according to veterinarian Ron Hines of 2ndChance.info. During week two, give an average of 15 to 20 milliliters for every 100 grams of body weight to the puppy, while 20 milliliters for every 100 grams of body weight is sufficient for weeks three and four.
Puppies can be weighed at home or at the vet’s office to ensure that they are growing properly. The average weight of a puppy will primarily depend on his breed. It’s normal for a puppy’s weight to double or triple during his first several weeks of life. On average, a puppy should gain between 10 to 15 percent of his birth weight before the weaning period. Puppies should gain slowly and steadily. If a pup is considered underweight by your vet, he may need extra help to reach optimal nutrition.
When to Wean
Puppies should begin the weaning process between 3 and 4 weeks of age and complete the weaning process between 7 and 8 weeks. The weaning process is gradual and should not be rushed. During the weaning period, puppies should begin accepting fine-textured solid foods. As a puppy eats more solid foods, it’s only natural that he nurses less often. When bottle-feeding, the weaning process is similar; gradually lower the amount of milk replacement as you introduce solid food.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images