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My First Litter: Weaning Puppies

Weaning puppies is the process of gradually transitioning them from their mother’s milk to solid food. This process, if managed well, can be smooth and stress-free for both the puppies and the mother.

When to Start Weaning Puppies

Weaning typically begins when puppies start showing interest in solid food, usually around three to four weeks of age. At this point, their digestive systems start adapting to more complex proteins, fats, and carbohydrates than those found in milk.

The Weaning Process

Start by offering a mixture of puppy food soaked in water to make a gruel. Initially, feed this in a flat pan while keeping the mother away. Puppies will get messy at first, but the mother will clean them up after feeding. Gradually increase the frequency of feeding gruel to four times a day. As the puppies start eating more solid food, their reliance on their mother’s milk will decrease. Typically, the mother is separated from the puppies during the day and reunited at night, slowly weaning them off her milk.

How Long Does Weaning Take?

Weaning can take a few days to a few weeks. The duration varies depending on the breed and the individual mother. Some breeds are more willing to continue nursing longer, while others may wean their puppies sooner. Allow the mother to set the pace unless she is sick or has other complications.

What to Feed Weaning Puppies

Mix puppy food with water and a milk replacer to make a tasty gruel. As the puppies grow, they will start eating more solid food. Ensure fresh water is available in a shallow, heavy dish to prevent accidents. Once the puppies are accustomed to gruel, gradually introduce solid food. Continue adding water to soften the food until the puppies are about six months old to prevent choking hazards.

Can a Puppy Be Weaned Too Early?

Weaning too early can lead to stress, poor weight gain, and diarrhea. The mother typically reduces her milk production as the puppies eat more solid food. Allowing the mother to dictate the weaning pace ensures the puppies are less stressed and healthier.

How to Tell if a Puppy Was Weaned Too Early

Puppies weaned too early may be fussy, smaller than expected, and prone to health issues. Puppies should not leave their birth home until they are at least seven weeks old. If a puppy is too young, finding an adult dog to mentor and comfort them can help.

Consequences of Improper Weaning

Puppies that are not weaned properly may suffer from stress, inadequate nutrition, and poor socialization. They need their mother for support and to learn essential behaviors. Monitoring the interactions between the mother and puppies will help determine the appropriate weaning time and process.

Weaning Problems and Solutions

Some puppies may not adapt well to weaning and could require additional support. If a puppy is not gaining weight or seems unhealthy, consult a veterinarian or a pet care expert for advice.

Caring for the Mother During Weaning

Monitor the mother’s health during weaning. Ensure she is not experiencing discomfort from milk production. If necessary, reduce her food intake to decrease milk production gradually. A healthy mother will recover quickly once weaning is complete.

Is the Puppy Ready for a New Home?

A puppy ready for a new home should be eating well, gaining weight, and socialized. Ensure the puppy has received vaccinations and deworming treatments. Provide new owners with information on the puppy’s diet, health records, and care tips.

Putting Together a Puppy Starter Pack

A puppy starter pack can help new owners with the transition. Include items like a guidebook on puppy care, a sample of the puppy’s diet, and health records. Remind new owners to avoid dog parks until the puppy has received all vaccinations.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure a smooth weaning process for your puppies, leading to healthy and happy dogs. For more information or assistance, contact us at

Weaning Puppies
Weaning Puppies


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