Weaning a young puppy off of their mother's milk can be an arduous process. They spent the first few weeks of their life eating nothing but warm milk next to the comforts of their family.
While young pups would surely have no problem drinking Mom's milk indefinitely, she's simply not built for it.
A few weeks after birth, female adult dogs will start to thin out and lose the ability to provide milk for their pups. Not only that, but puppies begin to develop small teeth that are a bit too painful for the mother.
At this point, you should consider providing your young canines with puppy mush.
Puppy mush is a unique meal that can effectively transition your pup to solid food. It's soft enough for them to swallow safely while also giving them the opportunity to experience light chewing for the first time.
Making puppy mush is a very easy process that doesn't require expensive tools or fancy formulas. All it takes is some extra time and attention.
What Exactly is Puppy Mush?
Also referred to as puppy gruel or mash, puppy mush is essentially mashed up kibble that's softened with water and milk. The great thing about this meal is that it can be adapted to the needs of your puppy.
When you first start creating it, the soggy food will be incredibly soft. It'll actually be closer to the consistency of milk than dry food. However, as they get older, you can adjust the liquid and kibble ratio so that the final product is firmer.
The whole point of puppy mush is to get your young dogs more comfortable with the idea of chewing. While it may seem like an easy enough concept, it's an acquired skill that your pup needs to learn. Puppy mush is the thing that teaches them.
When to Start Feeding Puppy Mush
Typically, puppies should start this process should start at about three or four weeks of age. However, the exact time will depend entirely on the mother. Pay close attention to how your adult female dog acts around her puppies. In the beginning, she will make herself available to her kin around the clock.
By the three-week point, she'll get a lot thinner as her milk supply dries out. She'll also start to display some signs of being ready to move on. For example, she may not let her puppies feed off of her as often as she once did.
For the next seven or eight weeks, puppy mush should be the main entre for your young dogs. During the first couple of days, it may take some time for your puppies to get used to the mash. They'll probably only eat a little bit before going back to their mother.
This is perfectly normal. Though, you still need to coax your puppy to transition fully to the mash.
How Often Should Puppies Eat Puppy Mush?
As you probably know, puppies eat a lot of food relative to their weight. Puppies should be eating the mush three or four times a day.
If they are not eating a ton of food, you may want to consider trying to feed them multiple small meals throughout the day.
Weigh your puppies and keep an accurate log of how much they are growing. Use this information to determine whether or not your feeding schedule is beneficial to their growth cycle.
Over the course of two months, you need to gradually decrease the number of meals they eat. Ideally, they should be eating just twice a day by the time they are ready to eat solid puppy food. With that being said, the amount of food they eat should remain constant.
Puppy Mush Recipe
Creating puppy mush couldn't be easier. When you're planning your meals, use the same dry kibble that you feed to the mother. The food that she regularly consumes affects the quality and taste of her milk.
By using the same kibble, there's a greater chance the puppies will recognize the taste and smell. This could ultimately make them more inclined to start eating.
To make the mush, you'll need:
This recipe creates enough puppy mush for six to eight puppies. In addition to the ingredients, you'll need a durable blender and a shallow bowl. An aluminum pie pan is a great option for puppies. They will make a mess, so it's good to use something that you don't mind throwing away.
- First, place the dry food at the bottom of your bowl or pan. Then, add your prepared puppy milk formula and let the mixture sit for approximately 10 minutes. During this time, the kibble will soften up and get bigger.
You can then throw this into the blender and add warm water. Alternatively, you can add the warm water directly to the bowl and mash the mixture up with a fork.
The goal is to have a mush that's soft and easy to consume. One good way to check if its the right consistency is to compare it to human baby cereal. Is it safe enough for a human baby to eat without choking? If so, it's good for your puppy.
* Before you provide the meal, make sure that the entire mixture has cooled down to room temperature.
Extras That You Can Add
If you want to kick-start your dog's journey to good health, there are many things you can add to the mush recipe. One of the most popular ingredients used by breeders is meat and organs.
Simply boil the meat and allow it to cool down. Before you add it to the mush, run it through the blender so that it can be incorporated into the mush. You can add it into the puppy mush recipe before you introduce the puppy milk.
Another thing you can use is goat's milk. Goat's milk is a great alternative to standard puppy milk formula. It has a lot more nutrients and contains a bit more protein. The milk tastes great and does its job to soften the kibble.
Getting Your Puppy Comfortable With Eating
Introducing your puppy to their mush meal is going to be a messy process. It's a good idea to cover the feeding area with some paper towels or puppy pads to catch any messes that occur.
To give your puppy a taste of the meal you just created for them, scoop some up with your fingers and put it in their mouth. Chances are, they'll fight with you a bit. However, this first step is very important. They'll completely ignore the food if you don't give them a taste first.
During the first feeding session, they won't eat much. Keep repeating this process until they make their way to the dish on their own and start lapping it up.
How Long Does Puppy Mush Stay Fresh?
Young puppies are at a very vulnerable point in their lives. Their immune systems aren't developed yet. Because of this, you need to be extra careful in providing them with fresh food that's safe and free of bacteria.
You should never try to refeed puppy mush to your dog. It's a one-time meal that needs to be discarded afterward, even if they don't eat it all.
The wet and warm nature of the food makes it a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Even if you cover it and place the mixture in the refrigerator, there's still a risk of making your vulnerable puppy sick.
Adapting the Mash for Your Growing Puppy
Your puppy mush meal should be changing as your puppy gets older. The recipe is simple enough to modify without having to take accurate measurements. Keep the kibble and milk ratios the same.
When you get ready to add the warm water, pay attention to the consistency. You can add less water to create a firmer mush.
As your puppy gets closer to about two months of age, you can stop using the puppy milk formula altogether. This will give your pup's body the chance to use up the nutrients in the food for growth rather than the milk's. Just add enough water to soften the kibble.
By the end of the two months, the mush should be closer to the consistency of mashed potatoes.
All in all, puppy mush is an important part of raising a puppy. It's not just about providing them with the food they need to grow up but also teaching them the skills they need to start chewing.
Before you know it, your puppy will be chewing on everything they can get their paws on, including treats and kibble.
Also Read: Puppy Food to Gain Weight (high calorie)