For the first few weeks, maybe even months, of a puppy life they are likely to feed off of the mother's milk. This milk is the best source of nutrition for a growing puppy, keeping the pups healthy during the beginning of their lives.
While it is recommended that a pup feeds for at least seven weeks from their mother, sometimes there are circumstances where this is not possible. These reasons can range from the mother dying to the puppies being given away too young.
If your puppy is about four weeks old and without their mother, you will need to know what kind of feeding schedule to get them on. In today's article, we will help you answer that question, allowing you to better care for your young puppy.
The Best Feeding Shedule For a Four Week-Old Puppy
What You'll Need
Before you get started on your puppy's new feeding schedule, there are a few things that you may want to have on hand, as follows:
- Dog Milk Substitute (You can find this at most pet shops or online)
- A dry puppy food.
- A bowl for food and Milk Substitute.
- A small baby bottle (If needed)
When and How to Feed Your Four Week Old Puppy
Part One: Morning Feeding
A young puppy is much like a human baby in that they tend to wake up fairly early in the morning. Also like a human baby, a puppy will be really hungry when they wake up.
As a result, you'll want to make sure and wake up early with the puppy yourself and mix the Milk Substitute for the puppy. You'll want to make this substitute before each feeding as opposed to ahead of time to ensure that the formula is fresh.
Place the milk substitute into a small bowl and encourage your puppy to drink from the bowl. If the puppy is apprehensive to feed from the bowl, possibly because they are still used to their mother, you can feed the puppy by hand using a small baby bottle.
If you think that your puppy can handle dry puppy food, mix the food into a bowl with some warm water. This will make the food easier to eat and digest for the puppy, who may not otherwise be used to that food yet.
Part Two: Midday
During the first few weeks of a puppy's life, especially if the mother of the pup isn't available, it is important to be more present around the house. This will allow the puppy to become used to you being around, as well as allows you to feed them throughout the day. If you can't be available, either due to work or other obligations, it may be essential to find someone to help care for the puppy during the day.
After taking the pups out for some walking and bonding time, you will want to settle the puppy down for its second feeding at around 12 noon. While much of the feeding process is the same as in step one, some people prefer to use the second feeding as an opportunity to try giving the dog more solid food than milk substitute.
Part Three: Afternoon
In the afternoon, you'll want to spend a little more bonding time with your puppy before the next feeding. Let the little guy get out his energy by playing or going for a walk before settling down for the next meal around the 3 PM mark.
The afternoon feeding may be a bit different than the previous two, as depending on the puppy in question, you may want to prepare a smaller meal for them. This allows you to give your puppy just enough energy to get through the day without overfeeding them before the final, nighttime feeding.
Part Four: Evening and Night
As your puppy is winding down for the night, you may choose to give them one last feeding before going to bed. The perfect time for this final feeding, in most cases, will be at seven or eight o'clock at night, right before you settle your puppy into their bed.
Most puppies by four weeks old will be able to sleep through the night, however, this is not always the case. This is why it is a good reason to have the puppy's bed or crate somewhere that you can hear them if they should get up, much like you would for a human baby.
Should the puppy wake up at night, prepare food for them as you usually would and allow them to eat until they are full or, in the most adorable of circumstances, fall asleep in their bowl.
Part Five: Tips and Tricks
In addition to the schedule set up above, the following tips can also help in the planning of a puppy's feeding schedule:
- Finish the Weaning Process: By the fifth week of your puppy's life, the puppy should be able to stomach more solid food than they had before. During this time it is probably best to start weaning your puppy off of the milk substitute and providing them with more dry puppy food.
- Make Your Own Schedule: If you want to put your puppy on a different schedule from what we have suggested, a good rule of thumb to go by is that it generally takes a puppy about two to three hours to burn off their previous meal. This means that you should try to space meals for your puppy no more than three to four hours apart.
- Pace Your Puppy: In addition to the above, you'll want to wait at least 10-20 minutes after each meal before allowing your puppy to play and exercise. This will give the puppy enough time to let the food settle, and therefore prevent any accidents from happening, such as throwing up the meal.
- Keep Your Puppy Hydrated: Make sure that your puppy has plenty of water to drink during every meal. While a puppy's nutrition is important, it is also necessary to make sure that they stay well hydrated, drinking from a bowl of water at least 15 minutes before going outside or playing.
If you are about to help your puppy get accustomed to life without it’s mother, it can be trying for both you and the young puppy. Putting your puppy on a feeding schedule, especially when they are as young as four weeks, can take a lot of patience, as well as trial and error, which may wear you down fast.
But the perseverance is worth it to make sure that your puppy grows up to be a healthy dog, with or without their mother around. Stick with it and you will soon see what a joy that helping a young puppy grow really can be.
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