Introduction of solid food for kittens and puppies

Supplemental food should be introduced at 3 to 4 weeks of age. A commercial food made specifically for weaning puppies or kittens can be used, or a thick gruel can be made by mixing a small amount of warm water with the mother’s food. Cow’s milk should not be used to make the gruel because it has a higher lactose content than bitch’s and queen’s milk and may cause diarrhea. Puppies and kittens should not be fed a homemade “weaning formula”. Although that the foods that are used to make these formulas are high in nutrient value, homemade formulas areusually not nutritionally balanced or complete. The use of this type of formulas should be avoided unless its exact nutrient composition is known.

The semisolid food should be provided in a shallow dish, and puppies and kittens should be allowed access to fresh foods several times per day. The food should be removed after 20 to 30 minutes. At first, little food will be consumed, and the litter’s major food source will continue to be the dam’s milk. However, by 5 weeks of age, the young should be readily consuming semisolid food. The deciduous teeth erupt between 21 and 35 days after birth. By 5 to 6 weeks of age, puppies and kittens are able to chew and consume dry food. Nutritional weaning is usually complete by 6 weeks of age, although some bitches and queens continue to allow their young to nurse until 7 to 8 weeks of age or longer. Recent studies of weaning in dogs in dictate that puppies will continue to suckle at 7 weeks of age even when offered free access to solid food. It is believed that the psychological and emotional benefits of suckling may be as important as the nutritional benefits in puppies that are older than 5 weeks of age. For this reason, complete weaning (behavioral weaning) should not be instituted until puppies and kittens are at least 7 to 8 weeks of age.

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