How to Wean Your Puppy with the Volhard Weaning Diet!

The first few weeks of any puppy's life are spent under the guidance and protection of his mother. For the first 28 days, puppies rely solely on their mothers' milk, which contains the right type and amount of nutrients for healthy growth. The fourth-week mark signals the time to introduce different food in the puppy's diet and prepare the puppy for a dietary transition away from the mother's milk and towards solid food. But the transition is not as easy as it sounds: weaning puppies off maternal milk requires a special diet, one that considers the puppy's dietary needs and growth spurts and is not problematic for the puppy's future growth. Furthermore, weaning your puppy with an imbalanced diet poses the risk of causing medical issues and growth problems in the future.

Today's article will teach dog parents the right time and food for weaning puppies. We will provide dog parents with a clear timetable of the puppy weaning process, from day 28, when we introduce new food to the puppy's diet, to the end of the puppy weaning process. Furthermore, we will provide dog parents with our tried-and-true Weaning Diet for 10-pound puppies!

Most Volhard breeders use AM/PM for the mom and then the puppies when they are in her care, and then they wean them onto NDF2 so that the new owners of the puppy can have an easier go at feeding naturally. With that said, it is recommended that you should add 20-25% more food for your lactating dog. For example, if your dog is 72 lbs, you should feed for a 150 lb dog 4x a day while lactating. Oats are just great to keep the mother's milk flowing.

Dog Milk Composition

Mother's milk is irreplaceable during the puppy's first weeks of living. It contains all of the nutrients that support healthy growth in puppies. A chemical analysis of dog milk shows the following composition: 22.7% dry matter, 9.47% fat, 7.53% protein, 3.81% sugar, and 146 kcal gross energy per 100 g, with protein comprising 31% of milk energy. It's imperative that puppies drink their mothers' milk for the first seven weeks of their lives. After seven weeks, the mother's milk production naturally decreases.

When Does the Process of Weaning Puppies Start?

Most dog breeders recommend the end of the fourth week as the perfect time to start weaning puppies. During the upcoming three weeks, puppies will eat a mixed diet of milk and solid food. This period is essential, as the puppy learns how to feed on a source different from his mother.

Before feeding the puppies, take the mother away from the litter and allow her to spend some time outside. In the meantime, the puppies will eat half of their meal (consisting of solid food) and drink their water. Each puppy has his own eating habits, so allow each puppy to eat his food before allowing the mother to return. Once the puppies are done with their solid food, allow the mother to return to the litter and nurse the puppies.

Wendy Volhard’s Weaning Diet for 10-Pound Puppies

Wendy Volhard, our founder, has put together a healthy and balanced eating regimen for both dog breeders and parents who are looking for a weaning diet for puppies. This comprehensive eating plan will help dog breeders and parents deliver the right amount of nutrients to their puppies throughout this transition period. By the end of the seventh week, your puppy will be ready to say goodbye to his mother's milk and settle on a healthy raw diet!

28-35 Days

8 a.m. Feed at room temperature.

  • ½ cup of raw cow or goat milk;
  • ½ teaspoon raw honey;
  • ¼ teaspoon of slippery elm powder.

How to prepare: put the ingredients into a blender and mix. If you have multiple puppies, feed each puppy in individual bowls. Once the puppies are done eating, allow the mother to nurse her puppies.

Noon

  • 1 ounce of dry-weight baby cereal, consisting of oats and barley, mixed and cooked;
  • ½ cup of raw milk;
  • 50 milligrams of vitamin C.

How to prepare: put the ingredients into a blender and mix. If you have multiple puppies, feed each puppy in individual bowls. Once the puppies are done eating, allow the mother to nurse her puppies.

4 p.m. Feed the same 8 a.m. meal.

8 p.m. Feed the same noon meal but add ¼ teaspoon of cod-liver oil.

Allow the mother to nurse her puppies before going to bed. You can use an active, naturally cultured yogurt diluted with ⅓ water to ⅔ yogurt to replace raw cow or goat milk.

36-42 Days

The quantities represent 10 pounds of litter weight and the increase of solid food. The mother's milk intake decreases by 25%.

8 a.m.

  • ⅔ cup of raw milk;
  • ⅓ teaspoon of raw honey;
  • ¼ teaspoon of slippery elm powder;
  • 1.2 ounces of dry-weight cereal (oats and barley);
  • 50 milligrams of vitamin C;
  • ⅛ teaspoon of herbs or finely chopped vegetable greens.

How to prepare: cook the cereal, cool, and mix with the other ingredients. If you have multiple puppies, feed each puppy in individual bowls. Once the puppies are done eating, allow the mother to nurse her puppies.

Breeder tip: The puppies eat six pans made of AM/PM for a 75 lb dog per day. She begins weaning at three weeks over a concoction of milk, cottage cheese, chicken broth, yogurt, egg yolks, etc. She soaks the AM and PM in other ingredients, and for the PM uses beef but blends it all in a blender.

Noon. Same as 8 a.m.

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh, ground, raw meat, increasing to 3-5 ounces over 8 to 12 days;
  • ⅛ teaspoon of nutritional yeast;
  • ¼ teaspoon of bone meal, increasing to ⅔ teaspoon;
  • ½ teaspoon of herbs or finely chopped vegetable greens;
  • 1/16 teaspoon of kelp;
  • ¼ teaspoon of wheat germ;
  • ½ teaspoon of wheat bran;
  • ⅛ teaspoon of cod-liver oil.

How to prepare: mix the ingredients and divide them into individual portions. When the puppies finish the food, allow the mother to nurse the puppies.

8 p.m. Same as 4 p.m., but add ⅓ capsule of garlic.

43-49 Days

Your puppies are now ready to transition into a complete Natural Diet. If you have a litter of puppies, take the weight of the entire litter and double it, then go to the appropriate adult dog diet chart. Divide the amount into individual bowls. Feed the puppies four times a day while allowing the mother to nurse her puppies after they have eaten. Maintain this feeding schedule until the puppies are seven months old.

Natural Diet for a 10-Pound Dog

Days 1-6

Breakfast

  • 1 ounce of dry grain mix;
  • ½ teaspoon of safflower oil;
  • 40 milligrams of vitamin C;
  • ½ of a small egg, four times a week;
  • ½ teaspoon of blackstrap molasses;
  • 40 IU of vitamin E
  • 12.5 milligrams of vitamin B complex;
  • ⅛ cup of yogurt or kefir.

Dinner

  • 3.7 ounces of meat (days 1-5);
  • 3.10 ounces of cottage cheese (day 6);
  • ¼ teaspoons of cod-liver oil;
  • ⅛ teaspoon of kelp;
  • ½ of garlic capsule (325 milligrams);
  • ½ teaspoon of wheat germ;
  • ½ teaspoon of dry herbs;
  • .8 ounces of liver (days 1-5);
  • 40 milligrams of vitamin C;
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar;
  • ¼ teaspoon of brewer’s yeast;
  • 1.33 teaspoons of bone meal;
  • 2 teaspoons of wheat bran;
  • 1.25 teaspoons of fruit on alternate days.

Day 7

Half-day fast at p.m.

Breakfast

  • .7 ounces of dry grain mix;
  • 12.5 milligrams of vitamin B complex;
  • 1 teaspoon of honey;
  • 40 milligrams of vitamin C;
  • ¼ cup of yogurt or kefir.

The Benefits of Weaning Your Puppy onto a Natural Diet

The weaning process is not only about introducing new food to your puppy; it's also about setting the proper foundation for your puppy's future growth. Healthy growth must happen gradually and harmoniously, something that not all canine diets can achieve. Of course, a healthy diet does not consist only of ingredients; it also requires the dog parent's patience and consistency. If the dog parent is willing to invest in their puppy's future health, then a natural diet is the way to go! You can wean the puppies right onto NDF2 and send them home with a 5 lb bag to get the new owners started.

Here are the four main benefits of weaning your puppy onto a natural diet:

#1: A Natural Diet Ensures Consistent Growth

Some dog parents and breeders might be led to believe that puppies need all the calories they can get to grow big and strong. But that's a false premise. Puppies require a strong bone and muscle structure to support healthy growth, especially with large breed dogs. A natural diet considers your puppy's growth stages by supplying the right calories to ensure his steady but persistent growth.

#2: A Natural Diet Makes Healthier Puppies

Natural foods are rich in highly digestible proteins and essential oils that puppies need to create body mass and proper brain development. In addition, puppies born from a natural diet set of parents have stronger immune systems, which allow them to fight disease and infections better, leading to a lower mortality rate in puppies at this stage of life.

#3: A Natural Diet Provides a Stronger Gut Microbiome

Puppies weaned on a natural diet will have a healthier microbial base in their intestinal tract. With a stronger and, consequently, healthier gut, your puppy's digestive system will produce less waste and less odorous stools, and your puppy will experience fewer digestive upsets.

#4: A Natural Diet Equals Easier-to-Train Dogs

A natural diet provides enough energy and moderates the puppy's temperament enough to ease the training process and improve obedience. A puppy that feels good will be much nicer to live with.

According to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, a raw diet from the late stages of suckling to roughly two months of age may reduce the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs later in life.

In addition, a raw diet administered subsequently for up to six months was found to have a positive effect. At the same time, the study indicates that feeding dry food to puppies early on in their lives can increase IBD incidence later in life.

A Parting Reminder

The timing and food used during the weaning process will determine your puppy's health and future growth. By settling on a natural diet, you're getting your puppy on the right track for steady, consistent growth and a long, healthy life by your side! For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!


To help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods, Volhard Dog Nutrition and its nutritionists are now offering online consultations! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to check out our consultation page!

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