Preventing Weaning Puppy Stall OutWeaning stress on the gut has been described as a band where only half the members know how to play their instruments. At weaning, suddenly we need everyone to play, and most have not yet picked up their instrument.
While nursing, only a small percentage of cells in the intestine have to function to digest milk. Milk is quickly absorbed, quickly used and supports fast growth required of the puppy. At weaning, all cells of the intestine must go to work, and most have never been turned on yet. The intestine, geared up to digest a liquid diet of simple fat and protein, now has to change. That change causes GI upset, which makes the puppies back off food for about five days and lose weight. They cannot "catch up" that weight loss before it's time to send them to their next home. New puppy owners prefer chubby puppies and associate chubby puppies with puppies well-cared for. We need to turn on the cells of the gut before we see puppy post-weaning stall out!
WeaningMoms back off nursing as soon as their puppies get teeth. This causes puppies to try other food. Often medium and larger breeds will start eating mom's food when we start to feed gruel. Small breed mommas will nurse even though the puppies have teeth. For this reason, small-breed puppies are more challenging to transition to solid food. Weaning techniques vary but the goal is to get cells to start digesting protein and carbohydrates (other than milk) before they have to. However, this it is never a sure thing.
Puppy IssuesPuppy issues are best prevented by keeping them on food, but trust your judgment! If you have puppies not making the transition well to solid food, double the dose for a few days and catch them up to their litter mates. It is not magic but it is a lot of help when you're trying to keep the calories up without clostridium deaths from high-calorie supplements.
The secret to raising any baby is to get them growing and keep them growing. Weaning is your high-risk time, and keeping them eating is your goal. Wean Help can ensure a smooth transition to solid food!
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.
Don Bramlage, DVM, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
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.