At the age of 7 weeks puppies are capable of fending for themselves and can be entirely independent of their mother. Gradual weaning may commence earlier.
Puppies should have at least 4 or 5 meals a day after weaning. These may alternate between milk, raw or lightly cooked meat, biscuits or rusks soaked in broth or milk.
A dry biscuit can be given them to nibble and play with. It helps them to cut their teeth and develops their jaws. A little food and often should be the rule for feeding puppies during and after weaning.
At about 6 weeks of age, or earlier, puppies can be given from a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful for dogs and they should be accustomed to it early. Their teeth are formed for it, their stomachs are small and their digestive juices more capable of dealing with a meat diet than a vegetable one.
A good rule to adopt in regard to the feeding of a dog is to give either raw or lightly cooked meat in such amount that it comprise at least half of the daily diet.
As the puppies become older the number of their meals can be reduced and the amount given at each meal increased. Thus at 4 months, the meals can be reduced to three a day, with an occasional raw beef bone as an addition.
To assist in the development of jaws and teeth some large beef bones with some of the raw meat left on should always be provided.
Never give puppies or adult dogs fish or poultry bones. Poultry bones usually splinter lengthwise when crushed by a dog and are liable to cause trouble by sticking in the throat or if swallowed may cause injury to the stomach or bowel.
Overfeeding is to be avoided. Adopt a regular feeding routine and keep to it. There are more digestive troubles in dogs due to overfeeding than to underfeeding. This statement applies particularly to household pets who often receive extra titbits at odd times.
To maintain a dog in a healthy state avoid the following:
- cold kennels
- irregular habits
- under or overfeeding
- unsuitable foods
Puppies are affected with worms, particularly of the Ascaris species, which may attain a very large size. While it is possible for a puppy to harbor internal parasites and still present a healthy appearance, an affected puppy usually does not thrive or grow well, and generally eats voraciously.
The addition of about a tablespoonful of finely grated raw carrot mixed with some finely chopped or minced meat as part of the daily ration will often clear a puppy of worms without any medicinal treatment.
Medicinal treatment to be effective should be preceded by a laxative and fasting for at least 10 to 12 hours. Worm medicines are usually extremely nauseating to the puppy and should be given with great caution.