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Puppy Weaning: When Do Puppies Stop Drinking Milk?

By Aviram K.
Updated at April 24, 2022
3 min read
Puppy Weaning: When Do Puppies Stop Drinking Milk?
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Joyful. Bright. Precious. These are just a few of the words that describe puppies. Gazing into their wide and innocent eyes, the whole world feels like a happier place.

Sure, puppies are adorable, but how much do you really know about them? Although they are sweet and simple creatures, there’s a lot to learn to give them the best possible start in life.

One of the most important things you can do is make sure they get the proper nutrition to grow and thrive.

But when exactly do puppies stop drinking their mother’s milk and start eating solids?

Puppies stop drinking milk at around 3-4 weeks of age, regardless of whether they are drinking from their mother’s milk or are being bottle-fed. At 3-4 weeks of age, the weaning process begins in the wild since this is when a puppy’s teeth naturally start to grow.

In this article, I will explain how long puppies drink their mother’s milk in more detail.

Don’t let your pup’s endless smiles and cuteness fool you; taking care of them is serious business! Knowing when to switch them to a more solid food diet is essential.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents
01
How Long Do Puppies Drink Their Mother’s Milk?
02
What About Puppies with No Mothers?

How Long Do Puppies Drink Their Mother’s Milk?

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Puppies drink their mother’s milk till they are about 3-to-4 weeks old. This may seem like nothing compared to human babies who may consume their mother’s milk for months, sometimes years!

Puppies stop drinking their mother’s milk so quickly because 3-4 weeks is when their teeth start developing. And those budding little molars start to hurt mom when her puppy grabs on to suckle!

During this time, the mother dog will begin moving away from her puppies and begin feeding them by regurgitating her food. This may be an awkward thing to witness, but don’t worry; it’s totally natural and normal.

The weaning process normally is complete when your puppy is between 4-to-6 weeks old. You can encourage the process along by offering your puppy soft foods as soon as they are able to open their eyes. Your dog will most likely have graduated to eating solid foods by around six weeks.

But before this takes place, it’s best to allow your pup to marinate in the presence and protection of his litter. And the longer, the better.

As your pup basks in the love of his doggy family, he is actually being set up to thrive. Ideally, as an owner, you will be monitoring your pup’s mom’s health and milk output. You’ll want to make sure she’s comfortable and that her milk is flowing and free from infection.

You will also want to listen and make sure you don’t hear your pup crying out, as this can be evidence of significant problems.

If you hear your puppy crying, they may not be getting enough of their mom’s precious milk. This can actually quickly lead to even death. An entire litter is capable of perishing within just 48 hours.

Puppies who relocate to a home at 10-weeks or older are more likely to be well-adjusted adult dogs. The vitamins, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies that your puppy can consume through their mother’s milk while in her litter are essential.

Puppies are also taught bite inhibition organically with their mom and siblings. The more time spent in the litter, the more time to learn.

And allowing your pup to remain in his litter longer translates into less work for you! During the early days of life, when your puppy is soaking up all his mother’s milk and love, she is pretty much all your pup needs. Her instincts are running the show, and your puppy benefits from it all to the maximum.

Puppies who are moved from their litters prematurely can suffer greatly. Some of this psychological and physical distress may include:

  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Lowered immunity
  • Incontinence
  • Emotional problems like separation anxiety, fear, and distrust of strangers
  • Destructiveness and possessiveness

What About Puppies with No Mothers?

What if your puppy doesn’t have a mother? When do they stop needing to be bottle-fed milk?

Luckily, it’s not different from puppies weaning off of their mother’s milk. Your bottle-fed pup will likely be weaned off milk at about 3-4 weeks.


Tags
Puppy Development
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