After puppies are born, the first three to four weeks of their tiny lives are all about nursing, nursing and more nursing. When it comes to fulfilling dietary needs, the mommy dog provides everything. Before the weaning stage, puppies simply have no use for anything other than the mother's milk.
Puppies enter the world with their sense of taste fully intact, but all they need to consume is breast milk courtesy of their mother. This milk caters to all of the specific dietary needs of the rapidly developing bundles of fluffy joy, so until the little guys are old enough to begin weaning, they don't need to "eat" anything else at all.
Not all puppies have mommy on hand, although you can usually get around that obstacle very easily. If you're in charge of taking care of a motherless litter of kittens, you can satisfy all of their nutritional demands by bottle feeding with the assistance of a commercial milk replacer and trusty powdered formula -- made solely for puppy consumption.
The ASPCA informs that mother dogs often begin weanin, or steering their puppies away from nursing, at roughly a month old and in some cases perhaps slightly earlier. Weaning usually takes a few weeks to fully finish. The Humane Society of the United States indicates that the process often reaches its final stage when kittens are between 6 and 7 weeks old. Throughout weaning, mothers usually intermittently breastfeed their puppies. However, by the age of 6 or 7 weeks, puppies generally have completely stopped taking nutrients from their mother.
Once the little cuties fully cease from eating from their mother, it's time to begin feeding them either moistened or dry commercial foods that are labeled as being formulated specifically for puppies. This is simply because puppies don't share the same dietary requirements as adult dogs -- no shocker. The ASPCA recommends a puppy diet that is full of protein to encourage ample energy and healthy growth. Think up to 30 percent protein. Remember, the first few months of a puppy's life are integral for proper development.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Puppy Behavior Basics
- ASPCA: Newborn Puppy Care
- Nevada Humane Society: Stages of Puppy Development
- ASPCA: Feeding Your Puppy
- ASPCA: Weaning
- National Academy of Sciences: Your Dog's Nutritional Needs
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Growing Puppy
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