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Raising Puppies at Three Weeks Old

Sassy the English Mastiff

A big litter of puppies around a food bowl and one puppy inside of the dog bowl

At three weeks old, the pups are wormed with a mild wormer (they were also wormed at two weeks).

Giant breed dogs are up and walking at 3 weeks old and can be started on food. Medium breeds can start food at 3.5 to 4.5 weeks of age. Toy breed dogs on the other hand cannot have food yet as they can asperate. Toy breeds cannot start food before 4 weeks of age, 4.5 to 5 weeks is recommended.

Three weeks old, FIRST solids. Soaked kibble is best for pups this age. In this particular case the pups were not being cared for by the dam and were given mush. It turned out to be a little too early, but it was worth a try considering the circumstances.

Close Up - Four Puppies eating out of the dog bowl and one puppy inside the bowl making a mess

Feeding did NOT go so well, LOL ;-) If they are playing in their food, they are too young to start. Feeding mush is Not needed and NOT advised, unless you have a litter you need to wean early, because the mom is not tending to them. Or if the mom dried up early or you are fostering a litter, or the litter size is just to large for mom to comfortably tend to you can feed them mush, but otherwise it is not something that is recommended and is considered old school breeding.

Three week old puppies get their first feeding of mush

Feeding puppies blended up food before they are ready will equal this. Puppies covered in food. They walk in it and get it all over their faces and do a face plant in it. Last year I know of two puppies that died at 3.5 weeks old from inhaling mush and getting a bacterial infection in their lungs.

At 3 to 5 weeks, depending on your dog's breed size, take good quality puppy kibble and soak it 2 parts water and 1 part kibble. Some kibble needs more water than others. The kibble will hold it's shape and soak up the water. You want to use as much water as you can and have the kibble pieces swell up and go very soft. Give the food to the puppies in their eating area, not in their potty area or their play area. The puppies will be able to pick up a piece of soaked kibble and eat it. If they are not ready to do this they are not ready to eat solid food.

A dam will often let you know it is time to start feeding the pups solid food when you see her regurgitate her kibble for them. It is a sure sign that soaked kibble is what you should be feeding them. Listen to the dam's instincts. I find if I try to wait until 5 weeks to add solid food to their diet, the dam will beat me to it the day or two before. This confirms that the timing was right on.

Puppies getting food everywhere

It was a feeding frenzy...

Puppy inside of the dog bowl

I obviously have to feed in shifts, maybe using two bowls.

Puppies keep getting inside of the mush bowl all wet making a big mess

They dove in and swam; they were more interested in swimming around in the food, and then licking it off of each other.

Close Up - Puppies climbing in Mush

Tips greatly welcomed... for a large litter, or BIG puppies, LOL.

Close Up - Three puppies sitting against the cage
Close Up - Puppies against the cage in each others face

At 3 weeks or when the pups start walking and about the time you make a small potty area outside the whelp box add a shallow bowl of water. Pups need to learn to lap water first from a bowl.

WARNING: When pups start to eat solid dog food the dam most of the time will STOP tending to their potty needs. Therefore you do not want to start kibble until the pups have all mastered coming out to the potty area 100% of the time. See house training puppies with the Misty Method. In most breeds, if done correctly, this is at 3-4 weeks. Then when you add food, pups sometimes get a little or large piece of poop on their rear ends stuck like glue that will NOT come off (called will-knots or dingleberries). This can also lead to death, as we also see every year. You need to check each pups butt every 12 hours. A pup last year went to bed with a plugged butt and strained all night, and blew out the sidewall of his bowel. this puppy died of severe infection.

Close Up - bruse on a child's chin.

Don't let a puppy suck on your chin, not even for ten seconds.

Puppy being fed from a bottle in the lap of a girl

At three weeks, the English Mastiff pups will get a bottle of goat’s milk every night. Tonight I added water with Pablum to the bottle.

Puppies eating out of mini food trough

At three and a half weeks, feeding is much neater.

All Puppies eating out of a mini food trough
Puppies grouped off and eating out of mini food troughs
Close Up - Four Puppies eating out of a mini food trough
Girl getting in the middle of puppies eating out of mini food troughs
Close Up - Puppies eating
Puppy laying down with its head in the mini food trough

This little pup is thoroughly enjoying his dinner, every last morsel!

A bag of food used to Wean the puppies off of Formula and Goat Milk

At three and a half weeks, the puppies started on weaning formula and goat’s milk.

Puppies peeing and pooping in designated area

AND they are all peeing and pooping on their own, yippee!

Puppy about to poop

Puppy about to poop

Puppy Poop

With solid food come solid poops. Your pups’ poop should be good and solid, not runny and not diarrhea. This is one of the first of many poops that will need to be cleaned up.

Courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs

 

Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case