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Dr L Simmon
Dr L Simmon, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1534
Experience:  Veterinarian MVB MRCVS
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I am just starting to wean 5 week old cocker spaniel puppies

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I am just starting to wean 5 week old cocker spaniel puppies off their Mum, but find them very difficult to feed. I have had three litters previously and never had this problem before. I started with milk and baby rice, they don’t like that. They don’t like milk with tinned rice pudding, or weetabix. They like milk on it’s own. They have eaten some poached chicken torn into tiny pieces. They don’t like the puppy biscuit I bought, Skinners Field & Trial Puppy, even though it is well soaked. Any ideas!
JA: I'll do all I can to help. The Expert will know if the puppy will be able to digest that. What is the dog's name?
Customer: They are 5 week old puppies they don’t have names yet. Mum is called Tinker and is very fussy and has been and still is very difficult to feed.
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Tinker?
Customer: No.
Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. Just a few minutes as I type my repsonse
As it is not a single pup but is rather the whole litter that are displaying this behaviour, it is less likely to be a health issue and should be something that is easily addressed.
If mum has a plentiful milk supply and is still content for them to feed on demand, they are probably quite happy to continue breast feeding and are less motivated to seek nutriton elsewhere. At 4 or 5 weeks many mums will be less tolerant of pups feeding or their supply may dry up slightly, hence these pups are more keen to be weaned at this early age. This is especially true if the pups are large or if the litter is big.
Hence, it is normal for litters to show variation and pups can wean any time between about 4 and 7 weeks.
For most, taking a laidback approach will eventually achieve desired reuslts (though it can take several weeks). This usually means leaving out some wet puppy food at certain times of the day. Warming this up slightly to release taste and aroma and hand feeding encourages more eating. Aim to supply it before a feed from mum rather than after.
I wouldn't advise baby rice or cows milk. Baby rice does not provide the nutrients growing pups need (namely lots of protein and calcium) while milk other than dog milk can cause upset tummies. Similarly, weetabix (while some may like the taste!) is not ideal.
Meats such as chicken, turkey as well as white fish can be given in small amounts. Better than this would be a balanced puppy diet such as the Skinners. However, dry food tends to be less palatable than wet food so if they are fussy you will see more success with wet food. Royal Canin wet puppy food is a favourite in my experience.
In summary, offering the tastiest wet puppy food at the right times will eventually lead to pups weaning themselves. Do not be too cocnerned about pup age as every litter is different. I have never met a pup that wasnt able to be weaned!
Do ensure all pups are gaining weight and growing as they should, give them the opportunity to eat puppy food and try to relax.
If appropriate, consider separating pups from mum (if it stresses neither too much) for a period and then offering the food when they are a little hungry.
I do hope that this answer has been helpful and please do not forget to rate the service by selecting the stars at the top of the screen so I may be compensated for my time. Even after rating we can continue the conversation. Alm the best, ***** *****
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Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you I have just ordered some wet puppy food.
No worries and good luck, this can be a tricky stage and no doubt your hands are full with the little scamps!