Overlooking a litter of young puppies can be overwhelming. This you've already discovered. As they mature, you want your litter to be appropriately socialized and growing properly. But if things go right, Mama dog will do most of the work for the first several weeks.
During the initial month of your puppies' lives, there's no need to feed them anything other than the milk they get straight from Mama. In terms of fulfilling puppies' specific nutritional necessities, nothing beats Mama's milk. In reality, however, many puppies don't have access to their mother dog. In these cases, bottle-feed your puppies formula and a commercial milk replacer -- it's not too complicated at all.
Once a mother doggie starts to wean her cuties away from exclusively nursing, the weaning process begins. According to the ASPCA, this usually occurs when a litter is around 3 to 4 weeks old, although it varies slightly. The process isn't an instantaneous one, however. Even after puppies have started eating some solid foods, the mother usually still occasionally nurses. The Humane Society of the United States says weaning is typically fully completed when a puppy is roughly between 6 and 7 weeks old. Once weaning is totally done, puppies finally cease drinking their mother's milk, full stop.
Never attempt to feed puppies milk that comes from a cow. Remember, puppies and adult dogs alike often have a tough time digesting milk and other dairy products. Drinking cow's milk can lead to a frustrating bout of stomach discomfort and diarrhea, so don't take the chance. Only mother's milk and puppy-specific formula are safe options.
Once puppies stop drinking milk from their mother, the only beverage they need is water. The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine advises that H20 is an absolutely integral component of a balanced and healthy puppy diet that also encourages thriving growth and development. Regular and frequent clean water consumption is very important not only for puppies but also for adult canines.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Puppy Behavior Basics
- Humane Society of El Paso: How to Care for Orphaned or Very Young Puppies
- ASPCA: Weaning
- The Pet Foster Network: Dog and Puppy Handbook
- ASPCA: Newborn Puppy Care
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Growing Puppy
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