For the first three weeks of a puppy's life it suckles milk from its mother's teat. However, at four weeks most puppies are ready to wean onto solid foods. A feeding schedule helps make sure you give enough calories and nutrients to support the growing pup. In general 4-week old puppies need small meals throughout the day. As most puppies become fully-grown within a year, it's not surprising that they need a lot of food.
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As a general rule, puppies at 4-weeks should follow a feeding schedule that includes four to six meals a day. (See Ref 3) This is ideally spread out evenly, with one first thing in the morning, one around 10:30am, one at lunchtime, one in mid-afternoon, one in the early evening and one just before your bedtime. Remember, many puppies will still be topping up with mother's milk at this point. This frequency tails off to around four meals a day from aged eight weeks.
A young puppy needs to eat about twice as many calories for every pound of weight as an adult dog. (See Ref 1) Nonetheless, don't overfeed your puppy. In general, aim for a gruel-style mix consisting of two parts dry food to one part water, according to Professor Margaret V. Root Kustritz from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. A tablespoon of food at each small meal is usually enough for most breeds at aged 4-weeks.
Don't feed a puppy with raw meat or standard adult dog food. You can buy puppy food from pet shops or supermarkets. It should contain the right mix of fats, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that the 4-week old puppy needs -- without overloading its digestive system. Always make sure the food is moist and almost paste-like. Part of a puppy feeding schedule should include a small bowl of fresh water, changed every time it goes empty.
The weaning process in puppies usually takes three to four weeks from when you begin, leading up to around eight weeks of age. The puppy should then weigh approximately 6 to 10 times more than its birth weight, according to Professor Kustritz. However, don't overfeed your puppy as this can cause future growth and digestion problems. Seek advice from a vet or specialist for specific instructions for your breed. Larger breeds may need more food in the overall schedule.
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