Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
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|Normally puppies are weaned at six to eight weeks of age. At this time, if puppies have access to solid food for at least three weeks, the process of weaning should go smoothly. The puppies will adapt to being removed from their mother and put on a diet of moistened dry food such as Purina Puppy Chow brand puppy food. This is an important time to begin to establish the puppies' eating habits. |
Young puppies are sometimes fed baby food, cooked cereal, chopped meats, etc. This type of diet is both expensive and time- consuming to prepare. Most important, it may not be nutritionally complete and balanced. Accustoming puppies to a good quality commercial diet at an early age will also help prevent finicky eaters.
With the puppies eating solid food prior to being weaned, there will be less demand on the bitch for milk production. By weaning time, the female's food consumption should be less than 50 percent above the maintenance level. To help reduce the milk flow and prevent mammary gland problems, the following procedure for weaning is recommended:
On the day the puppies are weaned, the female should not receive any food, but should have adequate fresh water. On the day after weaning, she should receive 1/4 the amount of food she received prior to being bred; on the third day, 1/2 the amount; the fourth day, 3/4 the amount; and by the fifth day she should receive the same amount of food as she was fed prior to being bred.
If the litter is quite large, the female may be thin when the puppies are weaned. In this case, she should be given extra food after the fifth day of weaning until her normal body condition returns.
Regardless of the breed of dog, the female should be at least one year of age and in at least the second heat period before she is bred. She should be in good body condition. An overweight female can have a lower conception rate and more problems at whelping.
Food intake will vary according to age, activity, body metabolism and environment. If possible, each dog should be fed as an individual to achieve and maintain normal body condition.
In order for the female to pass on disease immunity to her puppies, she should be on a regular vaccination program. This should be worked out with your veterinarian. Females to be bred should be maintained on a regular worming schedule. Treatment before breeding for roundworms and hookworms is essential. Both of these parasites can pass through the placenta of the female to the developing puppies. As a result, puppies can have these species present in their intestines at birth. Treatment and prevention of both internal and external parasites should be based on a health care program discussed and planned with your veterinarian.
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