Having those puppies roam around in your home is so cute. However, it comes responsibility for you. Weaning is not an easy thing to do as it requires time and effort. While they are breastfeeding, it’s all ok but soon they will need to be taught to start eating dry dog food. This has to be done before they stop going to their mom for feed. You cannot expect them to do it suddenly on one sunny day.
This whole time off and training your puppies from their mom’s feed to start eating other solid foods is known as weaning.
So, when it comes to the question of this article which is the best advice for when to start weaning Labrador puppies? Those Lab puppies can be put on the weaning process at 3-6 weeks’ time. At 3 weeks age, introduce the Lab puppy to canine formula milk available in the market (the manufacturing company and ingredients composition will vary with the region). As time passes by, you have to slowly move to doggy food and by 6 weeks the puppy would be totally on dry dog food
Now let me describe in more detail the whole process and related cautions and tips when it comes to weaning your puppies. Do not worry, the proves is very simple to follow.
Why Should You Wean Your Labrador Retriever Puppy?
If you ask for advice, you may come to know that its all-natural process and puppies automatically will stop going to their mom for food/milk. This is not true and the actual process requires some time and training effort from your side.
There are two types of people who want to know about weaning of Lab puppies. First dog owners who want to know the timeline so that they can provide good care to their puppies.
The second type is the one who breeds puppies so as to sell them to buyers looking to get a puppy angel in their home.
In both cases, the time is limited and everyone wants their puppies to grow up fast and start eating the food that they give to the puppies. All in all, 8 weeks is the maximum timeline which anyone is looking at.
So, if you want to see the puppy feeding on dry dog food at 8 weeks, it’s better to keep a target of 6-7 weeks.
The other aspect of this transition is that if you don’t provide good care then the puppy may experience a drop in his nutrition. If that happens, it will take a toll on his health. This goes the same as a human baby making the transition from mother’s feed to powder/cow milk. The deficiencies at the early stage of life will make it very difficult to cover up in later growth stages of the puppy.
The puppy’s body will take time to get ready for digesting the external food. If the external food goes too early into his body then the puppy won’t able to properly digest the dry dog food and hence it will result in a nutrition drop in him. The point that I am trying to make here is that you have to go very slow with weaning at the start.
If it is not taken care of then you will see a very sick puppy with lot of diseases attracted to him.
Never ever think about weaning the Lab puppies before 3-4 weeks’ time. Make a schedule beforehand and stick to it.
At What Time the Puppy’s Mom Stop to Produce Milk?
It’s a misconception that mom’s milk will come until 2 weeks or 3 weeks. The fact is that the mom will produce milk till the time their puppies are feeding at it. It’s a natural phenomenon where the mom’s body automatically produces milk for their puppy’s needs.
As with time, when you put the puppies on an alternate diet, the mom’s production of milk will also go down.
The Initial Puppy Food (also known as mash)
To start with, you have to use dry dog food. With time, you will move him to wet food. Use a high-quality dry dog food which has good nutrition value for the puppy.
If you are a puppy seller then it’s a good idea to use the same puppy food which he will be given once he reaches his new home. The process should be to put the puppy food (the ready-made formula) in the milk (you can use cow’s milk) for one night. Then the next day, blend the mixture to make it easy to swallow for the puppy.
Don’t give cold food to puppies. You want to microwave the food before serving it. Or you can also add some warm water to reduce the food mixture’s temperature.
Various Stages Through Which the Puppy Goes Through While Weaning
Any task becomes simple to manage when we break into sub-tasks or stages or steps. Since weaning is so critical for the Labrador puppies, it’s also better to split it into steps or phases.
When creating a stepwise plan, you may want to pay attention to every puppy and customize the plan according to his response and overall development.
Slow down the weaning process for puppies are not growing at a normal rate and keep the plan the same for puppies who show a good response to the transition. It’s all-natural and you cannot artificially deflate the transition time by doing some magic tricks. Monitoring and analyzing the growth rate is crucial.
You will want to stop at a step if the puppy takes time to adjust and get fully comfortable.
Stage: 1 Introducing the Dry Food Mash
Here you are going to feed the puppy with your hands. Remember that the puppy is not used to your touch and fingers at this stage and hence it can be challenging for you too.
Be creative here and try to engage them in stuff that they love. Show them it’s good to get food from you. If required, you can feed them one by one by holding in your lap. Just by placing food in front of them may not be sufficient at this stage.
Do not force too much. Make it gentle for the puppy let him lick your finger if required. You can also place your finger dipped with mash into the puppy’s mouth.
Rinse and repeat this and soon you will see improvement and the puppy will take the food easily from you.
The next step in this initial stage is to have them take the food directly from the bowl. Here also don’t feed them in a group. Place the bowl next to them one by one. Firstly, they will take it as a strange thing. But if you use fingers here also and show them that the mash is coming from the bowl in front of them, then sooner or later they will be interested in getting food from their bowl directly.
Stage: 2 Let Them Eat from the Mash Bowl Container on Their Own
By following the first stage steps, the puppy would be eating directly from the bowl of mash.
This one is going to be tough to start with. Separate the mom from her kids for a small number of time intervals. She also needs to go out and have some relax time in the fresh air. This gives her much-needed relief.
As you take the puppies’ mom outside, take the mashing bowl and place it near to puppies. If the bowl size is small, you can place multiple bowls. It’s going to be messy in terms of cleanup later on. But this is going to be fun for the puppies and they will learn a lot from this step. You can also record their video by using a camera in their room.
Since they don’t even know how to take food into the mouth properly. The mash is going to be spilled all over the place and over them too. Be prepared to do the cleaning of puppies, floor and the bowls. As you repeat, the spilling of mash food is going to decrease by the day. They will be fast to understand that it is food and would start to eat more of it than playing with it.
Repeat this for a week or till the time you see that they are getting used to the routine and eating well.
Stage: 3 Change the Mash Quality to a More Solid
The lesser the milk, the more solid mash is going to be. As you notice them getting more proficient eating from the bowl, you can start to use less milk replacement. This will make the mixture thicker.
You should still use the blender but since the quantity of milk is less, the mash will be less liquid and flowing in consistency. Please don’t take it as solid or dry food. It’s important to still them this soggy food which they can swallow easily. They still cannot chew at this moment and that is you are not yet giving them solid food.
Stage: 4 Just Soak the Food
In this stage, you will not use the blender to completely mash the food. Let them start to chew it up a little bit.
Add the milk to dry dog food and let it soak up for some time. Once it is soft enough but not full dissolved then it is ready to be served to the puppies. This type of food is their first attempt at chewing the food.
Stage: 5 Time to Finally Serve Dog Dry Food
After completing the above stages, the puppies would be ready to grab the food in their mouth and start chewing it. This time frame is usually at 6 weeks of age. You can stop adding milk to make the food soaked up and wet.
Let it stay dry and if you see some issues in their swelling the food then adds some warn water so as to soften the puppy food a little bit. But sooner you will be completely removing the liquid part in their food
By this time, they do have some little teeth which are capable of chewing and biting too. Hence the recommendation to remove the liquid part from their food.
Checking their progress is important as if you find that one or two of them is going slow then you also need to slow down specifically for them. But for the rest of them, do continue with the process as outlined above by me.
Handling the Mom When You Feed Puppies is Also Important?
The moms always have a soft corner for their puppies. It will be initially difficult to keep her away from puppies during feed time. The best way to handle her is by keeping her busy in some other activities and divert her attention.
I would recommend placing the feeding box in a separate place so that nothing else diverts attention when feeding puppies and taking care of their mom.
During the initial weeks, the puppies will get their daily nutrition from their mom’s feed and rest from the mash. This is the time when you are feeding them with your fingers.
With time and passing weeks, the number of times they take milk from the mother is going to decrease and then the number of times they feed on the mash will increase. The nutrition balance should always be maintained,
The proportion of dependency on mom’s milk to mash food should decrease and increase with time. Which means say you go from 90:10 to 80:20 and then 60:40 to all the way 10:90.
When Are Labrador Puppies Weaned?
Just by observing their feed time, one can tell if they are weaned or not. If they complete all the food given to them and don’t look out for their mom then it means that they are weaned.
The thought of moving from mom’s milk at 6 weeks may scare some of our readers. As I described above that you have to do it slowly and take the proportion to 10:90. Then it is not a problem if mom is feeding the puppies 4-5 times a week just to satisfy them.
What we are targeting here is to take the puppy’s nutritional needs dependency from mom’s milk and shift it to the dry dog feed. That way they puppies get up to speed on the growth path too and it’s also easy to move them from one place to another without actually disturbing the mother every time you do so.
Puppy having to feed on mom 4-5 times a week is ok and if you have reached that point then it means that the puppies have been weaned.
However, do note that the milk is also a medium for the puppies to bond with their mother. They look up to their mom in times of need and trouble. Hence if they feel hungry, the first thing they would want to have is their mom’s milk. Even when mom’s body is not producing milk then also the puppies would just want their mother.
The verdict here is that if the puppy is on complete dry food without any soaking and feels full of stomach most of the day without having to look up to his mom then you are good to go. This also means that the puppy is ready to start his lovely bites on everything.
At What Time Can Labrador Puppies Moved to New Home?
I can clearly say that they don’t even think about moving them before they are weaned. They have to be at least well-fed with dry food so all their daily nutritional needs get fulfilled
As described above, it will take 5-6-week time and hence that is the absolute time period that you should be looking at. Add 1-2 weeks more to it in case of specific puppy needs in cases when the puppy is slow in moving to dry dog food.
How Can Lab Puppies Get Comfort in Their New Home?
There are some points which I want to discuss in this section. These tips will go a long way in helping the puppies settle easily anywhere.
- When they are moved, keep them on the same dog food they are currently getting. So, when you move them, also move their food (the same brand, the same composition and same method of feeding them). We don’t want to add more changes to their routine apart from the physical movement from one location to another.
- You can also take some belongings used by his mom and place them next to them in their new home. These things can be a blanket, bowl or any clothes, etc.
- The smell of their mom will make them comfortable in the new space. It will also help them get a good night’s sleep.
- Apart from using mother belongings, I have also seen some people use the stuff that puppy’s siblings used. This also gives them the comfort of a family in a new place.
How to Move to New Type of Puppy Food Brand
When puppies get adopted, sooner or later the new owner will want to give the puppy food which is available in the store near to their home. Also, they want to cut down on puppy food costs because they don’t quite understand the importance of proper puppy nutrition and the diet they need as they grow.
What you as a dog breeder, in this case, should do is give them some sessions and diet chart. Basically, the process of transition is the same as moving from mom’s milk to dry dog food. They have to do it slowly and monitor their progress.
The proportion should go like this. 90:10 when the puppy is new to their home. 90:10 means they should mix 90% of the puppy food that you give them and 10% of the food that they intend to give going forward. From there, they should move to 80:20 till 10:90 and after that, the puppy can fully survive on the puppy food that is best available in his new home.
Each of these steps should be given enough time for the puppy to get accustomed to the new puppy food.
Puppies Also Need to Have a Vaccine Schedule
It’s the responsibility of every puppy owner to take the puppy to the vet on their vaccination day. If you are a dog breeder, you can provide a puppy vaccination schedule chart to the new owner.
When the puppy is born till the time, he is with you, don’t ignore his initial shots. Once he is moved to a new home, it is fully the responsibility of the new owner. Every time you visit the vet, he/she will give the next date when to go to their clinic for the next shot.
Apart from food, there are other things which have to be taken care of. These including their grooming, eye care, ear care, nails care and so on. A beautiful thought that I came across is:
Every part of their body is as important as ours.
Once we understand the above line then there will be no stories of puppies being mistreated.