Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Patience, consistency and high quality products are the principles that guide our weaning process. The goal is to avoid any stress on the puppy's body and to provide the right nutrients for their growth while they transition from momma's sweet milk to commercial dog food. If not done right, this process can be hard on the pups' digestive system and, as we all know, gut health is key to growing big and strong.
Patience is a crucial ingredient in this process because we need to allow the puppies time to adapt to the new food and to develop the gut bacteria that is needed for a healthy digestion. In this crucial part of the pups' development we introduce the new food in small increments over a period of more than five weeks.
During this time, we also get the pups on a regular schedule that consistently alternates between feeding/playing and sleeping time. An irregular schedule can negatively impact their digestion but a healthy routine will allow the pups to thrive and to begin life in a structured way.
We had great success with Esbilac which is a top shelf milk replacer specially designed for the digestive needs of newborn puppies. We also introduce healthy gut bacteria from the moment they are born until late into the weaning process. Our source of probiotics is Benebac Plus and, later on, Fortiflora.
The next step is the gradual introduction of solid food. We chose Royal Canin Starter Mousse Mother & Baby Dog for this. This is an incredibly tasty treat, very gentle on the G.I. tract and we found it to be the best bridge between milk and kibble. We were pleased to see how the introduction of this mousse maintains and stimulates the natural food drive of our pups.
For puppy food we chose Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy. The Fromm family has been in business for over 100 years and they are responsible for producing the very first Distemper vaccine which saved countless of pets' lives. The company has a great track record and their puppy food offers high-quality and well balanced sources of protein and fat. For more info on the history of the Fromm family click here.
All these products are top shelf brands from trusted companies, are gentle on the pups' digestive tract and allow us to make this transition in a natural and, not least of all, very tasty way.
Here's how we go about it:
3 - 4 weeks
Introduce Esbilac milk replacer in increments as supplement to the breast milk.
4 - 5 weeks
Introduce Starter Mousse together with the milk replacer. Progressively increase the amount of mousse while decreasing the amount of milk replacer. Also, slowly decrease the number of nursings until completely weaned from the mother. Introduce the puppies to distilled water.
5 - 6 weeks
Introduce Fromm puppy food in the form of gruel alongside the Starter Mouse. Progressively increase the puppy food while decreasing the amount of mousse until their meals consist of only wet kibble.
6 - 7 weeks
Feed only puppy food and begin to decrease the amount of moisture content to get the puppies acquainted to chewing dry food.
7 - 8 weeks
The pups' diet is now 100% dry puppy food.
All pups are fully weaned and ready to start their lives with their new families.
In the future we recommend following the same principles when changing your dog's diet. The introduction of new food should be done in increments of 10% over a period of 10 days. Start by mixing your dog's old food with the new one by adding 10% every day until the transition is complete 10 days later. Always watch for signs of diarrhea or loss of appetite, use probiotics and consult your vet if any of these symptoms occur.