At some point, when the puppies are growing up, you may wonder when a mother dog stops nursing her puppies. The answer tends to vary and depends on several circumstances. For instance, it may depend on how reluctant mother dog is about leaving her puppies to eat by themselves. Also, it may depend on how you help those cute puppies start separating themselves from their mom’s nipples. The point is, this puppies’ transition process is not one-fits-for-all, but there are some things you can do to expedite the process.
A Word About the Nursing Process
Ever since the day they were born, puppies have relied on their mother’s milk in order to grow and strengthen their bodies. Rich in nutrition and antibodies, mother’s milk has provided health and nourishment during the pup’s early upbringing.
However, at some point around four weeks of age, puppies will start getting their set of milk teeth which happen to be quite sharp! At some point mom finds the newly grown teeth uncomfortable when her puppies nurse and therefore she will gradually step away from her whelping box and become more and more reluctant to feed her hungry pups. The pups may start to follow her around and try to latch on her teats, but she will try to avoid them, and who can blame her!
Warning: if mother dog stops nursing earlier than expected, it could be she is suffering from a case of mastitis, which causes her teats to become red, hard, painful and swollen. Please see your vet.
A Word About the Weaning Process
With the eruption of sharp puppy teeth, Mother Nature has coordinated the perfect setup for weaning to start. With mother dog reluctant to nurse and the puppies feeling hungry, it’s time to start training the puppies to eat solid food.
The process must take place slowly and gradually as puppies need time to get accustomed to solid food. You can start off the process by mixing milk replacement formula with water and offering this concoction to the pups in a large and shallow dish.
As the pups get acquainted with lapping up the milk from the dish, they will still continue to nurse from mom every now and then as she permits.
Then, as the pups show signs of getting accustomed to their new menu, you may start mixing in ground-up dry puppy food to the milk formula which should result in a soupy consistency. After a bit, you can also start gradually decreasing the amount of water along with milk over the next four weeks until you are only feeding exclusively the dry.
During this transitional time, the pups will nurse less and less and mother dog might do her best to prevent them from nursing. She will keep on playing with them though and keep on teaching them important social skills. By the age of eight weeks your puppies should be fully weaned which means they exclusively eat dry food and no longer depend on mom for nursing.
What You Must Be Prepared For
Weaning is the process when you have to get prepared to always keep your puppies clean and dry after they have their meal. Get ready as things will get messy! The pups will walk in the dish, dunk their faces in it and get dirty.
Always have paper towels on hand which have been dipped in warm water to wipe off any food from your puppies’ bodies and then be ready to dry them up to prevent dangerous chilling.
Try to be patient during these stages until your puppies reach 7 to 8 weeks old. Generally at this age (besides a few exceptions), the puppies are weaned and no longer depend on their moms for nursing and it’s time for them to go out to their new good homes.