As a rule of thumb, each puppy in a litter should gain approximately its birth weight each week during the lactation or nursing period.
While most females are excellent mothers, some nervous or inattentive dams may require special attention to help them calm down and accept their new offspring. This may involve working with both the dam and/or puppies, and placing pups near nipples at feeding time. Poorly nursing puppies may be smaller in size, cooler in body temperature and weigh less. Routinely handling the pups will allow for an opportunity to check their condition and progress, although excessive handling may be stressful for the dam and pups and should be avoided.
Introducing Puppies to Solid Foods
By six weeks of age, most puppies are ready to be weaned. If they have started to eat solid foods from the dam's dish, it is not unusual for puppies to begin to wean themselves at about four to five weeks of age.
Young puppies should be fed an appropriate puppy life stage food at least three times a day until their food requirements, per pound of body weight, begin to level off as they mature. Feeding schedules can be reduced to twice a day when pups are four to five months old, and once a day when they are eight months or older. Fresh water in a clean bowl should be available at all times.
Warm water or milk can be used to moisten dry food, however, too much milk can act as a laxative and cause digestive problems for some puppies and adult dogs. One hour should be allowed for a puppy to eat, after which the uneaten portion should be discarded.
Establishing routine eating habits by feeding a puppy in the same place and at the same time each day is recommended and can help in housetraining. Offering human foods from the table is not recommended because it encourages begging and may create a finicky eater. Puppies consuming a complete and balanced diet do not need supplemental vitamins, minerals or meat.
The amount of food offered to a puppy will vary depending upon its size, activity, metabolism and environment. For the best results, develop a regular feeding schedule, such as three small meals a day for younger pups. You can gradually reduce to one feeding in the morning and one in the evening as your puppy ages. An overweight puppy not only presents a poor appearance, but the excess weight can cause bone abnormalities. Anytime owners have questions or concerns about their animal's body condition, they should consult their own veterinarian.
Facts About Feeding Dogs
Feeding Dogs for Life Stages: Adult Dogs
Feeding Dogs for Life Stages: Older Dogs