Taking care of a puppy is a lot like taking care of a child. They need the right foods, love, training, and care to grow up to be happy, healthy dogs. Luckily for puppies, they start on the right foot thanks to the nursing and milk provided by their mothers when they are small.
One of the most important aspects of caring for puppies is introducing food and water to them at the right time during their development. If these things are given to a puppy at the wrong time, this could be detrimental. To keep your puppy on a healthy path it’s best to begin introducing solid foods and water at around 3 to 4 weeks of age. This will help them properly wean from their mothers and learn to be more independent.
Let’s take a deeper look into the introduction of water to puppies. You can learn the best methods to ensure your pups stay healthy throughout the process. This will help you raise happy puppies who become incredible members of the family.
The Importance of Water
Like most creatures, puppies need water to survive. A mother dog’s milk helps puppies stay hydrated and nourished while they grow. When it comes time for the mother to step away from these duties, puppies need to be accustomed to the water and ready to handle their hydration needs on their own. This helps their cell formation and aids in proper digestion. It is water that helps move the nutrients to the cells for growth while also helping to regulate body temperature.
Why Do Puppies Need Milk First?
You may want to introduce water and solid food to your pups sooner but that isn’t a good idea. A puppy’s digestive system is far too sensitive to be subjected to anything but their mother’s milk for the first few weeks. This milk is full of the antibodies and nutrients puppies need to properly develop. If this is taken away too early, your puppy’s digestive system may not be fully developed and they could struggle with digesting solid foods.
In some situations, puppies find themselves orphaned or separated from their mother. If this happens, water isn’t a proper replacement. You’ll find several types of milk replacements available to supplement mother’s milk. This will help ensure your puppy’s nutritional needs are met even without their mother.
How to Introduce Water
At around 3 weeks of age, you can begin taking your puppy away from the mother for a bit of time. While doing this you should have soft food available for your pup to try. Whether you choose to use wet dog food or kibble that has been softened using milk replacement formula is up to you. The important thing to remember is that this is a learning process for your puppy. It may start slowly and it will be messy. Be ready for that part.
When separating your puppy from its mother, make sure to use a warm area free of cool drafts. This will make the time your puppy takes exploring the world on its own more comfortable and will help them avoid unwanted illnesses. While introducing your puppy to solid foods, always have water available. If they don’t explore the water on their own, make sure to gently nudge them toward it. Eventually, they will try it. Be on the sidelines waiting with a warm cloth to clean your baby up after they’ve had their fun.
While water is important to a puppy’s development, timing is crucial. Allowing your puppy to have water before they reach 3 weeks of age can disrupt their growth and development. For owners who want healthy pups that grow into happy family pets understanding their needs as puppies is a must. By following this timeline, your new family member will surely grow up to be a happy member of the family.
Featured Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock