Puppies can begin eating food and drinking water at the age of three to four weeks. It is preferable to keep them on their mothers’ milk for the first few weeks of life if possible. Mothers’ milk contains colostrum, which gives puppies essential antibodies.
Raising puppies can be one of the most fulfilling efforts a person can pursue. You get to watch them develop from a tiny ball of fur that can’t even open their eyes into a lifelong companion and friend. You’ll want to ensure that your puppies receive the proper care. This includes meeting their nutritional requirements.
While puppy care may appear daunting at first, there are numerous resources available to assist you along the way! Puppies may begin life nursing on their mother’s milk, but when should they be given food and water?
The Importance of Mother’s Milk
For the first few weeks of their lives, puppies receive all their nutrition from their mother’s milk. Puppies are too helpless to forage or hunt on their own when they are first born, and their mother takes care of them. Puppies are born with a highly delicate digestive system incapable of properly processing food or even water. Puppies should drink only their mother’s milk or puppy formula from birth to approximately 3-4 weeks.
When to Wean a Puppy
When a puppy reaches the age of 3-4 weeks, it is time to wean him or her off the mother’s milk and onto food and water. Before this time, puppies will require nutrition from their mother. This will be a significant transition in their lives, but the mother will be eternally grateful for your assistance in keeping a litter of puppies off their nipples 24 hours a day. During the 2-3 week period, you should have purchased the necessary food and water bowls and spoken with your veterinarian about the best food for the puppies. Each breed is unique and will require a different diet based on its size, ideal weight, and genetics.
Getting Puppies to Drink Water
Puppies may have difficulty in drinking water from traditional bowls after a three to four-week period. At the same time, the majority of puppies will instinctively understand how to drink from a bowl. Each puppy develops at a unique rate! If your puppy refuses to drink from a bowl of water, the following are a few possible solutions.
Fear of Reflection
One strange quirk that may inhibit your puppy from developing a sense of security around the water bowl is their response to their reflection.
Numerous water bowls are crafted from gleaming, reflective metal. When your pup looks into the bowl for a drink, they may be frightened by the reflection! The best way to this problem is to experiment with a non-reflective plastic water bowl simply.
Another problem that may stop your puppy from drinking water is related to the pups’ power struggle. Within a litter, certain dogs will attempt to assert dominance over the others. This may manifest itself during mealtimes or when the puppies try to obtain water.
You may realize that one puppy will protect the bowl from the others, nipping at them if they come too close. This can be rectified by allowing each puppy to independently approach the water bowl or remove the aggressive puppy until everyone else has finished drinking.
Add Flavor to the Water
For some puppies, the transition from mother’s milk to plain water can be difficult. Water does not have the same flavor as milk, and it lacks the nutrients that your puppies desire.
If this is preventing your puppy from drinking water, try flavoring it. Allowing small pieces of food to soak in the water may help make it more appealing to the puppies, or you can add a very tiny amount of low sodium broth. The aim is to get them used to drink water on their own, so gradually reduce the amount of broth in the bowl.
Transitioning from Milk to Food
Thus, you have successfully weaned your puppy from milk. They can drink water independently, but they are still deficient in the other nutrients provided by milk. It will help if you begin feeding your puppies as soon as they start drinking water to ensure they do not have a nutritional deficiency.
Create a dedicated area for your puppies’ bowls to get them used to eat real food. The food bowls should be shallow enough for the puppies to reach the bottom and thoroughly cleaned to eliminate bacteria.
Puppies can begin eating dry food at the age of 3-4 weeks. If you are using dry food, you can soak it in water to make digestion easier on the puppy. Keep in mind that your puppy may not know when to stop eating on their own, so monitor them closely!
After 3-4 weeks, you can begin introducing your puppies to water and food to wean them off from milk. Always maintain clean and safe food and water bowls. When your puppy first begins eating, he or she will undoubtedly make a mess, but be patient with them and provide them with an adequate amount of food without overfeeding.