Food is the most important factor in your dog's life. Through diet, he has to get everything his body needs, From weaning right through to old age, it is diet more than any other factor that could determine the quality and overall health of your dog.
Everyone has their own ideas as to when to start to wean puppies and what to feed. I start around 3 weeks as find the bitch wants to spend more time away from the whelping box as they don't appreciate puppies with sharp teeth hanging off them and the puppies get increasingly hungry and demanding. Apart from one bitch I had who was very devoted to her puppies, the others cannot get away quick enough and back to normal life with the others, and I feel they look to me to take over asap. But every bitch is different, and some breeders like to leave mum feeding puppies until almost 8 weeks of age and don't start weaning until 5-6 weeks.
When I had my first litter I tried soaking puppy food, which they wouldn't touch, and after a week thinking I was never going to get them weaned, I tried them with Puppy Mousse, which they devoured. Strangely though, since then, although I have been prepared with a tray of Puppy Mousse ready for weaning, I have not had a litter who have taken to it, one litter flatly refused to touch it, and I wonder if they have changed the receipe. Mine have all preferred fresh meat, goats milk and scrambled eggs with cheese, not all together, three meat meals and one eggy/milky meal. I also tried a well known brand puppy porridge, but that was refused and even the mum wouldn't touch it. When they get to five weeks or so they absolutely love a dairylea cheese triangle as a treat too. I also get through at least a litre of goats milk a day on an average litter of 4-6.
If you are going to be feeding a dried complete kibble, you should ensure the puppies (and this applies to adults too), have access to plenty of water. Dry dog food contains very little moisture, making it hard for the dog’s organs to break down and digest. In comparison, wet food is less stressful on the dog’s body. During the eating process, the dog’s stomach absorbs any supplied liquid contained in the food. This amounts to around 10% in most dry food and if your puppy doesn't drink enough the kidneys will not be adequately flushed. Your puppy will drink considerably less when consuming wet food and will also urinate significantly more, which is good for the kidneys.
The basis of some dried foods is primarily grains and cereals being a low cost long-lasting filler, which is used to compensate for a low meat content, generally around 20-30% meat/protein (you can check the labels to see what you are feeding), together with chicken by products ('by products' are chicken carcasses and chicken parts that are not suitable for human consumption, such as feathers, feet, and entrails). Dogs only need to consume small amounts of grain and carbohydrates and in the wild it would come from the stomach contents of prey, where the grain or carbohydrates have already been pre-digested.
Some litters will get stuck in to food in a bowl straight away, others have to be tempted by taking it from your finger, but always try them with solid food before they have anything from their mum. Some breeders will just try solid food for once a day for a few days, but I tend to offer a small amount 3 - 4 times a day, increasing the amount I offer them, the more they eat, the more I give them, thus reducing the milk they want off their mum.
Ultimately you will choose to feed what suits you, your lifestyle and your puppies, but
if you are worried what your vet will say if you feed raw, refer them to this article in the
Scientific research showing raw food is safe HERE.
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