Are you caring for a litter of puppies or an orphaned puppy? Are your puppies ready to eat solid food? If so, you may be wondering what to feed puppies at 3-weeks of age.
Three-weeks of age usually marks the start of the weaning process. Since your puppy is starting to develop her vision and physical strength, it’s time for her to start being introduced to nutrition that her mother cannot provide.
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What To Feed Puppies At 3-weeks?
At three-weeks old, your puppy is literally starting to open her eyes to the world around her and stretch out her legs to explore it. With these new abilities comes the need for her to consume more calories in order to restore the energy she exerts.
As she begins decreasing her intake of her mother’s milk, your 3-week old puppy can now start expanding her diet to include solid food and water. Keep in mind that she needs to be drinking her mother’s milk for a few more weeks, so don’t cut her off from nursing cold-turkey.
You have a few options when it comes to the type of food you give your puppy. You can feed her dry food, semi-moist food or completely moist food. Most puppy experts recommend dry kibble food because it lasts longer, contains more fats and helps strengthen her teeth.
If you decide to give her dry kibble, remember that your puppy’s teeth are only just beginning to peek out from her gums; you need to soften her food or she will struggle to chew and digest it.
You can add water or a milk replacer to the dry food to turn it into mush.
Puppies require nearly twice the amount of energy that adult dogs do, and they need it condensed into portions that can fit in their tiny bellies. Don’t feed your puppies the adult dog food that their mother eats; it’s not good for them.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet before purchasing any specific brand of puppy food.
How Much Does She Need?
For the first two-weeks of her life, your puppy was sleeping 90% of the time and only moved if her mother picked her up by the scruff and put her somewhere. Now that she’s three-weeks old, she’s starting to gain mobility.
Learning how to walk requires a lot of energy. In order to build muscle and prevent energy depletion, your puppy needs to be consuming protein-rich calories.
Generally speaking, a 3-week old puppy needs to consume 80-90 calories for every pound of her body weight. You can use a pet scale (like this one) to weigh her on a daily basis so that you know how much puppy food to give her.
Your puppy needs to drink lots of water when she starts eating solid food. Water helps her stay energized while also aiding in digestion and body temperature regulation.
Just as plants need to be watered for growth, puppies need to remain hydrated if they are going to become a healthy dog.
Make sure she always has access to a shallow bowl filled with about half a cup of clean water. Refill her bowl every two hours or so, and pay attention to how much she is drinking from them so that you’re sure she’s drinking the right amount.
If it’s hot where you live, it’s even more important for you to make sure she is staying hydrated. Your puppy may not sweat, but she does pant it out. Give her extra water to regulate her body temperature and to restore her lost body water.
For the early weeks of your puppy’s life, she relies solely on the colostrum in her mother’s milk for nutrition. Colostrum provides puppies with nutrients and antibodies that help them build their immune systems while preventing disease and illness.
A dam naturally takes her litter through the weaning process, but humans often facilitate the process if they are planning to separate the puppies from their mother at a young age.
If you are caring for a puppy that has been severed from her mother prematurely, make sure you give her milk replacer until she is strong enough to consume solid food.
Toddler pups still have a lot to learn from their mother, and they need to continue to nurse for some time after you introduce them to solid food. However, continuing to nurse for more than 12-weeks can cause health complications for their mother.
Smaller breeds occasionally need to drink milk for longer periods than medium or large breeds. Always consult with your vet to make sure your puppy is ready before giving her solid food.
Nursing is an essential for all infant mammals, but they can’t rely on their mothers forever. When the puppies reach three or four-weeks of age, it is time for you to step in and gradually take over the mother’s feeding responsibilities.
- Mix some dry puppy food with some water or milk replacer to make it easy for her to chew, and make sure that she nurses less as each week goes by.
- Make sure your puppy always has access to a shallow bowl of clean water so that she can stay hydrated.
Of course, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet before making any decisions regarding your puppy’s nutrition. Keeping your pooch healthy and self-reliant during her childhood will make your bond stronger and last longer.
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