For reasons not quite fully understood yet, some mother dogs will push their pups away. They will reject the feeding puppy and not allow that pup to drink milk. Therefore, if you are taking care of a new litter, you must carefully watch to make sure that they are receiving what they need.
If you notice that things are not flowing smoothly, you will need to step in and feed those puppies. This is done using a dropper or small bottle with a very small nipple tip. Do not use cow's milk, it does not contain the necessary vitamins and nutrients for a growing puppy. There are special formulas specifically designed to feed a very young puppy; you can obtain these through your veterinarian.
The Beginning of the Process
While puppies will drink from their mother until about 6 weeks old, the weaning process will begin at approximately 3 to 4 weeks. At this time, the puppies will begin to grow curious about the world. They will begin to stray a bit away from their mother in an attempt to explore the outside world. It is important to give the puppies an opportunity to do this. During this time, the Shih Tzu puppy is starting to learn independence and this is needed for good emotional health when it will be time to fully be on their own with their human family.
It seems that usually the dam (mother) realizes this as well, as she may push the puppies
away after a while of feeding. Beginning at 3 to 4 weeks old, you should introduce solid food.
How to Wean a Newborn
The goal will be to offer gradual steps to solid food. It should begin as a wet, mushy soup-type food and over the course of a couple of weeks, contain less and less liquid.
It is suggested to use the food that the dam has been eating as the 'base'. In this way, no new ingredients are added that could cause any stomach upset.
You'll need a blender, puppy milk replacer and hot water (bottled, spring or filtered water).
1- Place 2 cups of the dam's dog food into a blender.
2- Add 12.5 ounces of liquid puppy milk replacer.
3- Top the blender off with the hot water.
4- Blend until it has the consistency of baby food.
Offer this in small, shallow stainless steel or ceramic bowls, 3 to 4 times per day. The pups will need some time to learn to sense the food and lap at it. Pay attention to when the puppies go to the dam to nurse. You will want to politely interrupt this to offer the blended food. Once they are done, they may go back to the dam for a bit of nursing to 'top off their tummies'.
Each week, decrease the amount of liquid, continuing to use the blender so that the food is 'mushy'.
The goal is to have the pups used to eating only solid food - with no milk replacer or water - at the 7 week old mark.
While you are paying attention to feeding the puppies, this will give their mother a good opportunity to leave for a bit. She will be very exhausted and in need of some alone time; much like a human mother who just needs to get away for a few moments to regroup.
As time goes by, the weaning puppies will get used to having their mother gone for a longer and longer period of time. Simultaneously, the weaning pups will become more adjusted to your presence. This will continue on like a domino effect, until they are completely ready to move out on their own.
Look Out for Allergies
If your puppy has:
- Vomiting or
This means that he or she may be experiencing a food intolerance. It is very important to take your Shih Tzu to the vet or animal hospital immediately since dehydration can occur very quickly.