Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Feed Program for Weaning Your Puppies

Feeding A Litter - Whelping to Weaning

First before any of this process takes place, you owe it to your bitch to spend $25 and purchase one of the best books on the market - Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook by Carlson and Giffin. Most book stores carry it or you can get it online at

I have saved many a dogs lives over the years with this book and it has great chapters on how to handle the whole situation, including potential problems when it comes to pregnancy and whelping. That said, we can now move to discussing the important things in preparation for a litter.

At this time I will not address genetics or the ethics of breeding dogs. I will focus on information to help your bitch have a smooth pregnancy and get the little ones off on the right foot - or feet -as the case may be.

At this website I have a Feed Program for Pregnancy, which you need to read and prepare for, long before you do a breeding, if at all possible. In this article I will take you from the time of weaning the litter, about 3 ½ to 4 weeks until they are up to 12 months of age. The primary focus will be 3 weeks - 16 weeks of age, and how to feed them in preparation for their vaccines and going to new homes. The BEST advice I can give you is stay in touch with your vet during his process and make sure (s)he is available if a C-Section is necessary at the time of whelping. The read the book above, it has the MOST valuable information. Preparation is the key to success and saved lives!

Required Feeding

These are the 3 products you should have on hand when you have a new litter, in case you run into problems. This is a way to treat illness and diarrhea without antibiotics, which destroy the intestinal flora of the gut. The intestinal flora or beneficial bacteria of the gut is non existent in the beginning and you need to supplement the newborns shortly after delivery. More on this to come.

1). The first supplement is to have on hand “just in case” something comes up, is OxE-Drops which are use to kill pathogenic (bad) bacteria, virus, fungus and can be given internally, in a enema or vaporizer for respiratory problems on puppies, even newborns as well as mom.

For proper dosage to use on newborns there is information in this article about diarrhea in newborns.


Take a moment and read through the Guidelines for Using Oxy-Drops so you have this info ahead of time and understand all the things this product does for you.

2). The second supplement is a probiotic (beneficial bacteria) called BacPakPlus. It is made of several beneficial bacteria one of which is microencapsulated. Puppies are born with a sterile GI tract so what I would do when I had litters is place a little BacPakPlus in the palm of my hand, add a little room temp water to make a runny paste then wipe some on the tongue of the newborn puppy to help establish a good intestinal flora. I would do this once a day for each puppy then at weaning time it would go directly on to the Eagle kibble that was run through a food processor and then mixed with tepid temp water.
I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of using this on your newborn puppies to establish intestinal flora and fight E. coli bacteria and the potential for fading puppies or herpes virus.

3) The third supplement you need to have on hand is Nzymes granular. which are dietary enzymes and they provide the nutrients necessary for the body to make antioxidants which boosts immune function and helping to prevent vaccine reactions in puppies. It is the carrier in the vaccine that is often the problem in causing seizures or autoimmune mediated vaccine reactions in puppies. Nzymes dietary enzymes are also very important inproviding that safe "raw component" to your puppie's diet without disrupting the balance and causing digestive problems.


ARTICLE - How To Handle Diarrhea in Newborn Puppies

Introduction to Weaning

First read the chapter on weaning a litter (Home Owners Veterinary Handbook) and start the worming process - see your vet for product and setting up a worming schedule. We worm at 3 & 6 weeks of age and again at 9-10 weeks after cropping if necessary. We crop at 7 weeks of age when they are in the 15 - 20 lb range so it is important they are free of worms before surgery. (See Cropping Article) for tapping ears and after care (see Photos and Instructions for taping).

Weaning Formula

When the puppies reach about 3.5 weeks of age, their “lapping” reflex kicks in, you can start to present them with solid foods. How we do this is use either Precise Natural -Foundation or Precise Holistic Large/Giant Breed Puppy Food ( and run it through the food processor or blender to get a powder.

Do not microwave or soak food, it destroys the integrity of the vitamins/minerals and probiotics on the food. Mix the powder with tepid temperature distilled, boiled or spring water, not milk. ..........Why not milk? .....Because the least amount of diet changes the better, so you don’t end up with loose stools and lost weight.

In the powder add BakPakPlus (probiotics/digestive enzymes) and the Granular Nzymes product which is so critical in helping prevent vaccine reaction

(see Vaccine Reaction Prevention) and Blackwatch Vaccine Schedule.

I take the weight of the total litter and dose Nzymes and BakPakPlus accordingling. Example: If your litter is a total of 30 lbs at 4 weeks of age - add the recommended amount for 30lbs and mix into your gruel and serve 1 - 2 times a day out of the normal 4 day feedings at this age.. Once you start to separate the puppies off and feed separately, you can dose separately.

You can purchase these two supplements at

Since these two supplements are heat sensitive, make sure use tepid temperature water - this is the same temp that you get when you test the liquid in baby bottle on your wrist.

You want a pudding like consistency on the kibble/water mixture and let it set a few minutes to thicken, then adjust the amount of water or powder at that time. You do not want it so stiff they get it stuck in their throat, and so thin it runs right through them. We do not start with baby cereal like some breeders because, once again, we have found that the least amount of changes they go through the less problems we have will loose stools. In the beginning of the weaning process the puppies are still getting nourishment from mom, so we feed them this gruel two times a day for a week then increase it to 3 times a day as mom feeds them less and less, working up to 4 times a day this mixture.

Always make sure there is water present once you start weaning them and encourage them to drink it after they eat. They are not drawn to water because it does not taste like "food" so you may have to add a little whole milk to it just so they are encouraged to drink it. After eating, clean puppies with a warm damp wash rag and towel dry them- ugh it is a mess.

At 5-6 weeks of age you can start to introduce a balanced quality canned dog food, just to start giving them some variety of flavors (Precise or any other Holistic meats). My preference is canned simply because it is balanced in the calcium and phosphorus ratio and will not cause growth problems. How much? Since you are still feeding in a group, I use 1-2 teaspoons per puppy in the gruel.

This is also the age you can start to offer little bits of berries, applesauce, melon, cooked veggies. Baby food works great for this introduction, plus eating off of a spoon is very helpful as they develop, you can hide medication in anything and they will take it.

At 6 weeks of age, we start to separate them for eating purposes as well as crate rest. This is in preparation for cropping time. This is when early crate training starts and preparation for them learning they can sleep alone in a crate. I get each puppy their own stuffed toy and make sure my smell is all over it so they feel comfortable cuddling up to something. I also keep soothing music on for them as well, to calm them - I always want the crate to be a safe place.

Leaving the Nest

We do not let our puppy go to homes until they are 10 weeks of age, due to training and cropping/healing, but natural earred puppies can go by 8 weeks, so it is important they understand about a leash and sleeping in a crate without throwing a fit. That is why this training at 6 weeks is very important - as well as handling and socialization.

All our puppies are trained to be handled on a grooming table, from a very early age so at 6 weeks they understand and hold pretty still while we fuss with them, check teeth, ears and trim nails. It is safe to say, the bulk of your training is done before 12 weeks of age and if you put this time into them they will be no problem for their new owners, as well as they are half way to show training by 12 weeks. Most people wait far too long to start handling their puppies and it is too stressful on them at a later time. We always make it a fun experience so they are not frightened on the table or while being handled.

When your puppy is ready to go to their new home 8 weeks or older, you can put them on the Blackwatch Puppy Feed Program for Large/Giant Breeds and this includes the Guidelines for care.

For small and med breeds you can use the Blackwatch Puppy Feed Program for Small . Medium Breeds

I hope this section is helpful and your litter is a whopping success!

Joint Supplementation - start at 10 weeks of age

If you are looking for a high quality glucosamine joint support product, Liquid Health Level 5000 is the one I have used for some time. Check the Reviews on this product at this linke and you will see it really works. I have used it with great success on my dogs and my elderly dogs respond well to joint nutritional supplementation. The amount of glucosamine in better dog foods is minimal, helpful nonetheless, but minimal, so a good joint supplement is ideal especially for any age or breed. I start my dogs during growth stages - 10 weeks + and continue throughout their adult life. I have notices my elderly dogs do not have arthritis even at 12 yrs of age. With the large/giant breeds their joints have added stressed, so any thing that can help support them as they age is a positive thing in my opinion. This product is very comprehensive and has MSM in it in sufficient amounts.

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