The process of transitioning puppies from their mother's milk to solid food is called weaning. Weaning puppies is a gradual process that takes several weeks. It's one of the first steps toward the puppies' independence, and one of the most important milestones in a young dog's life. You can make the process simple and easy by using a high-quality puppy food, puppy milk replacement formula and water.
When to Start Weaning
Start introducing puppies to puppy food at the age of 3.5 weeks. This allows you to gradually transition them from their mother's milk to solid puppy food. By the time they are independent at 8 weeks old, they should be eating solid food. Since their teeth are not fully developed by 3.5 weeks, you will need to soften the food for them.
Making Puppy Mush
Make a soft puppy food by combining 2 cups of high-quality puppy food with 12.5 ounces of liquid puppy milk replacer. Pour both into a blender and fill it the rest of the way with hot water. Pulse the blender until the mixture is liquefied. Pour the mix into a shallow bowl. A pie tin works well. Feed the puppies four to six times a day. Extra food can be stored in the refrigerator overnight and reheated.
Getting the Puppies to Eat the Mush
Choose an area to feed the puppies. The kitchen or bathroom is best, since the floors are easily cleaned. Lay down some newspaper before you put the bowl down. Puppies tend to make a mess when eating. When you first set down the bowl, the puppies may not know what it is. They will step in it, get it all over, and may try to play in the food. Scoop some up with your finger and allow a puppy to lick it off. Once the puppy has started licking, bring your finger down to the bowl.
Transitioning to Solid Food
Over the course of three weeks, slowly decrease the amount of water and milk replacer and increase the amount of puppy food. Blend the mixture less as it becomes drier. By the seventh or eighth weeks, they should be eating nothing but dry food. The puppies should always have free access to water as their liquid intake from their food decreases.