4 Tips for Weaning PuppiesLast updated: June 7, 2017
Weaning is the process of transitioning from liquid to solid, calorie-dense food. Doing that successfully without slowing puppies' growth is the key. Here are some guidelines to help your pups make a smooth transition.
- When to Start Puppy Gruel At some point in a puppy's nursing life, milk will begin to fall short of the calories and balance they need for growth. The puppy then starts trying mom's food if they have access. When you notice this happening, help them by offering a gruel (puppy mush). This process starts at different times depending on the breed of dog:
- Giant breeds, three and a half weeks
- Large breeds, by four weeks
- Small breeds, depends on size but most at five to six weeks
Make a thin liquid when you start as they will want to drink more than eat. As they know what it is, you can thicken it and add soaked puppy food to the mix. Over a week, I eliminate the rice cereal and go full puppy food, warm water and milk replacer.
Once they are eating well, add dry food in a ring outside of a flat bowl and put the soaked food on the inside. They will move to the dry food once the wet food is gone.
Gradually we move to thick, softened puppy food with a small amount of milk replacer twice a day and dry puppy food full time. Mom is taken out more and more during the day until one morning she does not return.
During this time, puppies will back off milk and mom will begin to slow milk production. That allows her glands to dry up once the puppies are removed.
Anytime there is a transition, the gut is upset. Many breeders find a probiotic that bypasses the stomach like Doc Roy's GI Synbiotics is helpful in maintaining GI health and I recommend it. Once the transition is made, a probiotic can be stopped and only used if we are treating for any issues.
Your goal in weaning is to make the transition from mom to solid food as smooth and stress-free as you can. Planning for a two week transition and following the above steps usually allows that to happen.
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival's Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.