‘Weaning’ describes the changeover from one food to another, and for young puppies this is from the mother's milk to solid foods. If puppies are abandoned then it becomes the responsibility of the owner to get them on the right diet. Here’s what you need to know:
Use only a bitch milk substitute diet. (available with your vet)
Cows and goats milk are not suitable milk substitutes, you will need milk similar to that of the dog. When choosing bottle feeding kits, find a teat size that is appropriate, as this may cause problems for feeding.
Feed your puppies the right amount.
Puppies less than a week old, need feeding every 1-2 hours; and after this phase, every 3-5 hours. By their 3rd week, they can start to lap a milk substitute. The bitch normally cleans around the anus of the puppies to stimulate them to defecate. You can achieve this effect with a moist tissue or cotton wool.
Regulate the temperature so it doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
Puppies cannot regulate their body temperatures for their first 4 weeks, and need to be kept in a temperature-controlled environment. You can use heating lamps, or hot water bottles and heating pads (be mindful that the heat source is not too hot).
Note: Frequently monitor the puppies, as they may have problems crawling away from the heat source if it gets too hot.
Here’s what you need to know about the weaning process.
By 3-4 weeks of age, the puppies should eat palatable and highly nutritious puppy food. For the initial part, warm water/milk can be added to the Pedigree Puppy or weaning food to make it sloppy enough for the puppies to lap.
Tip: If there is a reluctant puppy, tempt him by putting food on its lips or near the nose.
Give your puppies nutritious food till they become young, healthy dogs.
When the puppies are 8 weeks of age, they should be offered puppy food, after which the feeding guides can be followed on the Pedigree puppy labels. They will need to continue with growth food until they reach adulthood.
If at any point you are concerned about the health of the puppies or the bitch contact your veterinary practice for advice.