Mother Dog Stopped Feeding Puppies At 3 Weeks… Should I Be Worried?

Has your mother dog stopped feeding its puppies at 3 weeks old?

It’s definitely a big concern when this happens, and there are a variety of reasons as to why this phenomenon may occur. These can include physical or neurological conditions that cause the mother to refuse their maternal duties.

Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world! There are ways that you can ensure your puppies stay healthy and grow up normally, even without the natural milk usually provided by their mother.

Read on to find out all you need to know on this troubling issue!

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Why Won’t My Dog Feed Her 3 Week Old Puppies?

Amstaff dog breast feeding puppies
Three weeks of this? Admit it, you’d want a break too!

A mother dog can refuse or neglect to feed her 3 week old puppies for a variety of different reasons.

Some mothers do so simply to encourage their puppies to start eating solid food on their own.

Other times, a mother dog may also stop feeding her puppies if she feels unwell.

This mostly happens when the mother contracts mastitis in the weeks after giving birth, resulting in inflammation, pain, and discomfort in her teats that forces her to stop nursing properly.

Experts also suggest that an individual lack of maternal instinct can make a mother dog stop feeding her puppies as early as three weeks after birth. This mostly occurs to dogs that have given birth through a Caesarian section and struggle to associate with their puppies.

Additionally, dogs that were separated early from their own mothers may lack maternal instinct and as a result reject their puppies early on.

Other factors that may cause a mother dog to stop feeding her puppies at three weeks include stress and unhealthy puppies.

If the mother suffers from extreme stress after giving birth, she can develop aggressive and dissonant behavior.

She may also stop feeding her puppies if she discovers that the puppies are unhealthy.

Although domesticated, dogs still possess the natural survival traits of their ancestors. Though unfortunate, they instinctively abandon sick or weak puppies that are unlikely to survive for long.

Some mothers may even kill weak or sick puppies, and give preferential attention to strong and healthy puppies that are more likely to survive.

Thus, it is very important to keep a close eye on your dog when it is nursing. If the mother stops feeding her puppies at three weeks, you need to step in immediately to prevent the puppies from starving.

Some of the signs that show that the mother has stopped feeding her puppies include:

  • Puppies crying continuously
  • Rapid health deterioration of the puppies
  • The mother being aggressive towards her puppies.

Contact your vet immediately if this is the case to get the best advice on how to take care of the puppies, as well as on how to make sure the mother dog herself will be OK.

How Long Can 3-Week Old Puppies Go Without Eating?

Newborn Akita Inu puppies

According to vets, three week old puppies can go without food for three days, or up to a maximum of five days if they still have access to water.

Most three weeks old puppies largely depend on their mother’s milk for survival. It is also the period of time when weaning begins.

In cases where the mother stops feeding its puppies and they have not yet been introduced to solid food, it will be difficult for them to survive for more than three days.

Therefore, it is crucial to always monitor the puppies to see if they are feeding well. If not, you should take action immediately through bottle feeding or other means in order to prevent the puppies from dying of starvation.

Can Puppies Be Weaned At 3 Weeks?

Yes, puppies can be weaned at 3 weeks.

In fact, some puppies usually start to sneakily sample their mum’s food at three weeks- a sign that they are ready to be weaned. However puppies are all different, and some take up to 5 weeks to be weaned.

It is very important to monitor your puppies to know whether they are ready to be weaned or not. At the same time, please do not force your puppy if it is not yet ready to be weaned.

Although weaning is unavoidable in the case of orphaned puppies, experts recommend that you allow the weaning process to be gradual. Puppies need time to transition from exclusively feeding on mother’s milk to eating solid food.

However, most experts advise dog owners to start the weaning process when the puppy reaches 3 weeks.

Puppies begin teething when they are around three weeks as well, and by six weeks of age all the deciduous teeth will have erupted.

This means that your puppies have teeth to chew food with at three weeks. Begin the weaning process by introducing soft foods, but still allow the puppies to feed on the mothers or formula milk at the same time.

What Can I Feed A 3-Week Old Puppy Without Mum?GNC Pets Premium Milk Replacer Formula Powder for Puppies, 28 Ounces Puppy Formula Made with Natural Milk Proteins to Strength and Growth

Weaning a 3-week old puppy without a mum is challenging but rewarding. Most puppies are ready to transition from milk to solid food when they are around three weeks old.

However, weaning an orphaned puppy should not be an overnight endeavor. It should take place gradually over the course of 2-3 weeks. The first food to offer your three weeks old puppy should be easy to chew and digestible.

First, choose the brand of puppy food that you intend to feed your puppy. Remember that a three week old puppy has high nutritional and caloric needs. Therefore, the food that you choose should be high in calories, calcium, and protein.

Introduce your puppy to puppy food by making a paste (a mixture of puppy’s food and a commercial canine milk replacer specially formulated for puppies). Please avoid using cow or goat milk as they can cause diarrhea and other stomach issues.

Feed your puppy at least four times a day. Place the food in small quantities to make it easier for the puppy to chew. During the first days, your puppy may be hesitant to chew food because it is used to feeding on milk. Be patient with the puppy and appreciate every little milestone!

Feed it with a sloppy wet mix. This will allow the puppy to get used to the new source of nourishment without causing stomach upset. Thicken the puppy’s food gradually to make the transition process smooth.

The recommended types of foods to give your puppy include a mixture of high protein cereal with puppy milk replacer or a mixture of canned puppy food with milk replacer or water. You can also let your puppy eat puppy food or kibble.

How Do I Feed 3 Week Old Puppies?

Puppy drinking milk out of bottle

As discussed above, your puppies can be weaned by the time they reach three weeks. To successfully wean your pups, start feeding them with semi-solid food that is soft and easy to digest.

Prepare their food by mixing the dry puppy food with milk replacer specially formulated for puppies. Water can also be added to make it soft and easy to chew.

Hard food is not recommended for three week old puppies because it is still too difficult to digest, and can cause diarrhea and constipation.

There are many types of foods for puppies on the market today including kibble and cereals. Be very careful when choosing food for your puppies. Only buy from reputable brands with a good track record and user reviews.

Purchase puppy food that is nutritious and high in calories. Mix the dry puppy food with a milk replacer, then place it on your puppy’s bowl. Each puppy should have its own bowl.

If you notice that the puppies are struggling to eat, it could be because the food is still too thick. In that case, add more water or milk replacer to make it softer and easy to chew.

Three week old puppies are not yet used to chewing food. You need to make it easy for them to chew and digest the food by ensuring that the mixture is soft enough.

You can also warm the food to around 20 degrees to increase its palatability and make it more appealing to your puppies. Always give your puppies fresh food. Wet puppy food usually ferments within a few hours, making it inedible. So, avoid recycling foods for your puppies.

Also, don’t forget to give your puppies water while administering food to help keep them well hydrated!

How Do I Know If Puppies Are Getting Enough Milk?

German Shorthaired Pointer puppies

Mother’s milk provides the best nutrients to puppies. It also provides antibodies that help to protect the puppies from diseases. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the puppies are getting enough milk.

But how can you know if your puppies are getting enough milk? Below are things that should be considered:

Check Your Puppies’ Weights

One of the best ways to know if your puppies are getting enough milk is by weighing it at least once a day.

A mother dog’s milk is rich in calories, protein, and beneficial nutrients that puppies need to grow and thrive. If your puppies are losing weight or maintaining a specific weight for a long time, then that could indicate that they are not getting enough milk.

On the other hand, if they are gaining weight, then that is a clear sign that they are getting enough milk and overall nutrition.

Check Your Puppy’s General Health Condition

Milk is rich in protein, beneficial nutrients, and minerals that play a crucial role in enhancing your puppy’s health. Milk also contains antibodies that help to protect the puppies from diseases.

Therefore, if your puppies get sick frequently, it could be because they are not getting enough milk. On other hand, if they are in perfect health and rarely get sick, then there probably isn’t any issues with feeding at all!

Crying And Complaints

Another way of determining whether your puppies are getting enough milk is by checking if they cry frequently, even after feeding.

If the puppies are constantly crying, that can be a sign that they are not getting enough milk and are feeling hungry. Puppies that get enough milk are generally happier, and rarely cry or demand more food.

What Should A 3-Week Old Puppy Look Like?

newborn puppy - hands holding on to three week old english bulldog puppy

Puppies grow fast if well fed. At three weeks, your puppies will have made major development milestones.

A three-week-old puppy should have increased strength and mobility. Its rear legs should have caught up with its front legs, allowing it to move about surprisingly effectively. Additionally, a three weeks old puppy should easily be able to stand and sit on its own.

The puppy will also start to develop its individuality. You should be able to distinguish one puppy from another, both in terms of looks and behavior.

The puppy should also start teething at three weeks. You should notice the emergence of its first deciduous or baby teeth. This is also the stage when most puppies are weaned, especially if the puppy is large and putting a lot of pressure on the mother’s milk.

Most puppies taste their first solid food when they are at 3 weeks old. This is also the point where puppies start to play-growl at one another.

How Do You Take Care Of A 3-Week Old Puppy Without Its Mother?

Little fluffy puppy lying next to plate of food

Taking care of an orphaned 3-week old puppy comes with both challenges and rewards. The fact that the puppy is still very young means it will require more hands-on care and attention compared to older puppies.

In this section, we will give you tips on how to take care of a 3-week old orphaned puppy:

Provide Sufficient Warmth

Keeping three week old puppies warm should be a priority- and not just with your endless love!

Puppies usually get their warmth by swaddling each other and staying close to their mother. If the puppy is alone without its mother and siblings, warmth becomes a huge challenge. This means that you need to step in to help keep your puppy stay warm.

There are many ways of keeping your three-week-old puppy warm. The most recommended warming techniques include tucking a heating pad or a warm water bottle into the puppy’s blanket or towel.

Also make sure that your home or room is generally a warm, comfortable temperature!

Ensure That The Puppy Is Well-Fed

Besides keeping your puppy warm, you also need to ensure that the puppy is well-fed.

Puppies have to be bottle fed at first without their mother, but most will be ready to be weaned at three weeks. Start by making and feeding gruel ( dry puppy food moistened with warmed puppy milk replacement formula or lukewarm water).

Ensure that the food is soft to make it easy for the puppy to chew and digest. Feed your dog at least four times a day. Don’t forget to give the puppy water to keep him well hydrated!

At around 8 weeks of age, it will be ready to transition to harder food.

Keep The Puppy Clean

Keeping the puppy clean not only helps to enhance its health but also makes it more comfortable. Although puppies learn relatively quickly how to groom themselves and may develop good hygiene habits early, they still require your help as cleaning may not be done properly.

It’s also very important to keep the puppy’s beddings clean to prevent sickness and infections.

Make sure you rub the puppy’s underbelly with a moist, soft cloth after every feeding to clean off any residual pee and poop. Lastly, clean the puppy’s dishes after every meal and provide clean fresh water every day.

Vet Visits

When taking care of an orphaned puppy, it is important to schedule a regular vet appointment for a thorough checkup!

Besides checking the puppy’s overall health, the vet will also give you tips on how to provide the best care to the puppy.

In Summary

It’s definitely a bit of a worry when your mother dog stops feeding its puppies at 3 weeks old.

However, all is not lost and your puppies can definitely still grow up healthy and strong with a bit of extra care and attention.

Mother dogs can refuse to feed their puppies at 3 weeks old for a large number of potential reasons. For example, they may be feeling a bit sore from all the constant nursing it has been doing for the past few weeks- and who can blame them!

In other scenarios, the mother dog may have weaker maternal instincts due to the method in which it gave birth, or from its own upbringing. In these cases, it will be up to you as the responsible owner to take over the rearing duties.

The most important ways to take care of 3-week old puppies include feeding semi-solid food, providing them with enough water, and keeping them as clean and warm as possible.

Monitor their daily status, and you’ll be surprised just how well and fast they grow even without sustenance from their mother!

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