How to Wean Your Puppy

Whether Itís One Or An Entire Litter

A reliable Veterinary Assistant Training program can help establish how to wean your puppies.  As part of a reputable animal care curriculum, certified vet assistant training provides important guidelines for how best to accomplish the transition puppies must make when leaving mother’s milk for solid food. 
 
Q: When is the best time to wean?
A:  It is most common to begin the weaning process at six weeks of age, with a goal to complete the process by eight weeks.  This is the case for orphaned puppies or a typical litter with their mom.  Ideally, weaning should be conducted gradually, according to your veterinarian’s recommendation and also information learned from a quality vet assistant training program.  Gradual weaning helps to establish the all important puppy understanding of dominance signals and curtail biting habits.  It is also important for mama dog too, as this is quite a load on her system and can be stressful for some dogs.

Q: How do I wean an entire litter?
A: Step one is to give mama a break from her puppies, little by little.  Introduce a pan of moist food in small amounts. Gradually increase the amount of time that the pups are away from their mother so they can practice how to eat solid food.  You will extend the time until pups become comfortable with the separation and begin reliable eating habits.  Over time, puppies become confident and self-sufficient in their eating until they are completely weaned.

Q: What Should I feed my puppies during weaning?
A: Veterinary Assistant Training programs recommend that that the food you feed is consistent throughout the growth process.  For some puppies, it is helpful to add a bit of water, creating a stew that is soft and enhances flavor.  Some pet owners will introduce the food initially with a small dab on their fingers, letting their pups lick it off to get the idea of eating a different texture.  Remember to keep water close to their food so the pups remain hydrated.
 
Q: How do I care for the mother of my puppies during weaning?
A: Preventing mammary engorgement is important for the mother dog.  It can become very uncomfortable for her if she overproduces and cannot feed her puppies.  After discussing with your veterinarian or qualified vet’s assistant, decide on a schedule that is consistent and increases separation over time.  You’ll want to provide complete nutrition for both mama and puppies during this process until the puppies are completely weaned.

Q: If the puppies are orphaned, then what?
A: If you work in a shelter or have become the caregiver for a litter of puppies, you will use the same weaning schedule at six weeks.  Prior to weaning, bottle feeding with a commercial milk-replacement product will be necessary. During weaning, putting the milk-replacer in a bowl and letting pups lick the milk off your finger until they learn to eat out of a bowl, is very helpful.  Never force the puppy’s nose in the bowl.  Continue weaning gradually to dry (but moistened) or canned food as above during the duration of the weaning process until they have completely transitioned to solid food by eight weeks.

A reputable veterinary assistant training program will recommend that pet owners practice patience.  Setbacks are normal and are part of the weaning is a process.  Also, keep your pups clean, dry, and warm.  Weaning is messy, with occasional dips into a milk or water bowl. The soupy milk-replacer can get caked on a paw or face.  Clean your darlings accordingly.  Finally, after checking with your vet, make sure you provide the appropriate amount of food for your breeds’ projected size. 

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