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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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My four week old puppies - half of them seem to not be eating

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My four week old puppies - half of them seem to not be eating so much and might be stagnating in weight two days in a row although I have had to change weight so cannot be ly. All seem very content and happy - one is MAYBE slightly coughing like huhuhu X four times a day. Should I feed with extra milk tonight? Rather want them to get mummys milk going. Mummy is six and had breast infection last week with lots of pills and antiobotics and got over it without helpfeed.
Hi Sir or Madam,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
I want to clarify their age. They are over 4 weeks of age, correct?
You are feeding the puppies raw food?
The barf diet is bones and raw food, so did they also get bones?
They failed to gain weight in 2 days so you are concerned?
Or are you concerned because they do not want to eat?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jane,


Four weeks exactly today yes. Have put on weight fantastically except past two days where some of them have dropped a bit off and not put on weight - however cannot be completely sure since I had to change weight since the other one was unreliable.


I feed them raw puppy food which is a mix of raw food prepared especially for pups, where the bones are blended in - i also blend extra to make sure they can eat it. I also put in 50% of puppu nutrition mix my vet wanted me to use - although i would prefer raw completely but like to keep my vet happy. In the raw food I add a vitamin herb mix with minerals and vitamins.

They failed to gain weight - here enclosed is their weight scale.

Several of them today have not seemed to be interested so much in the food or milk and Mille has offered more than usual. Her breasts do not seem as full as usual. Twice one pup chose not to eat when mom offered. Third time she went in there full on.

All puppies are sleeping and very happy. But it struck me they might be getting weak and therefore were sleepy because they were not gaining weight. On the other hand when I look at them they seem really fine and healthy. I am with them all day - they all go out and poop outside - they are fun, playful, cuddly attentive and confident and there has been no changes in this great releaxed behaviour.

I guess I am concerned about whether I should be concerned that they do not always eat or gain weight - despite them not complaining - making e think are they perhaps ill? Apart from this one pup coughing very slightly (four times in a day and it might not even be a real cough) i see nothing wrong with them. They sleep A lot, but are also awake to my knowledge normal.

Hope this answers your question. thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Just hand fed them another 500 grams which they alost ate everything of, so maybe they are getting the hang of things. Should I perhaps feed four times a day instead of 2-3....

Ida,.At three weeks of age, pups should start to be weaned from their mother. They should be fed a mixture of puppy replacement formula mixed with the food you plan on using when they are weaned. You start with it very liquidly and gradually reduce the formula portion over a couple of weeks until it is all the puppy food. So at 4 weeks of age, if mom has had mastitis, I would not let them nurse from her anymore. If she is recovered and you want to allow them some milk, then you will want to always offer them the puppy food several times a day Only allow them to go to mom after they have had a chance to eat the puppy food mixture. This allows a mom's milk to reduce itself naturally and thus reduce the chance of her breasts becoming engorged and causing her discomfort..While I am a fan of the barf diet, puppies have strict nutritional requirements and their immune system is not matured so a barf diet may not be the best choice. Raw diets are prone to contamination and while an adult dog's digestive system and immune system might be able to offset any issues, a pup's might not. The nutritional requirements might also not be correct even if it is made just for pups. Here is a site that goes over feeding raw food.


I'm a breeder and my adult dogs are currently fed a partial Barf diet supplemented by dry kibble. My pups however are raised on a high quality puppy food until they are at least 9 months old before I introduce the Barf diet to them. I also prepare my own diet for the dogs and do not buy a commercially prepared Barf diet so I have more control over the quality of the raw foods going into my dogs system and can at least partially be assured the meats are not spoiled or contaminated and are human grade meats.


Now on to your question. At 4 weeks of age, they should be eating 4-6 times a day tapering to 4 times a day by 8 weeks of age. So find the amount of food they should be eating of the food per day based on their weight. It should be on the dog food packaging. Since you are feeding half and half, do it for each and take the amount of each and feed half the amount of each one per day. Take the total amount for the day and split that into the number of meals for the day. I tend to feed my pups together, but if possible, feed each from their own bowl so you can see how much they are eating and that each of them is indeed eating. This also helps stop them from gorging one meal and not being hungry the next meal. Pups can have a hard time maintaining their blood sugar levels so eating regularly during the day is important for them.


This will allow you to tell if they stop eating due to illness since they should be hungry for each meal. When pups are very young, they gain weight every day, but as they mature, they gain weight at a slower rate. Additionally, when you first switch to a different food, they are liable to have digestive issues such as diarrhea that may affect weight gain. If they have parasites such as worms, this will also affect weight gain, so if they have not been dewormed yet, you will want to do that as soon as possible.


If a pup does stop eating, you want to get that pup checked out as soon as possible to ensure that the pup has not contracted parvo. Parvo though does have an effective treatment now but it has to be administered within 48 hours of the first symptom which is typically a loss of appetite. So you see why it is important to get them checked as soon as you notice a loss of appetite. Being fed a raw diet, they also have a chance of contracting salmonella or food poisoning as well. Let me give you some information on the new treatment for parvovirus which is called Tamiflu.


So if a pup skips more than one meal and hasn't been nursing off mom, I would have the pup seen by your vet but I wouldn't worry too much about the weight gain at this point. Now I would switch to weighing them each week to ensure they are gaining weight properly but daily weight checks are no longer necessary as long as you are monitoring their feedings to ensure that each one is eating.


I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Time difference meant that I went to bed just one inute before you answered.

So now you are problem in bed over there (Scandinavia here)

This is very helpful - altough I have one more question.


Yesterday night and this morning all pups have eaten a lot and mom has fed them all night. All seem to be toiletting normal - perhaps one with a slight diarrea. Should I then worry about Parvo and getting my pups to the vet when they are all back to eating? and none of them seem upset in any way - they have been running into the garden, playing etc? I mean they sleep a lot and some of them are more calm than others but I dont think they are sickly, however the quitness could ofcourse be parvo - although could it when they are all eating again?


They have never skipped a meal copletely - only one pup skipped two milk servings ysterday from mom but then everything started going and she ate like mad and this morning they have been eating and getting milk from mon.


I will pay attention to hygiene and your advice on nutrition and barf. It's a jungle out there where I feel no more comfortable with the kibble that they don't like and which is manufactured only the last 100 years for us to buy something more expensive.

But paying attention to hygiene and the foods ability to go bad earlier etc. makes a lot of sense. Also feeding a lot more per day and weighing once a week sounds sensible - as does the relief of not having to worry about them eating and gaining weight differently over some days.


If you have time to answer that one question about vet and parvo I appreciate it. thanks a lot. Shall follow your advice closely.

best ida

You only need to worry about them not eating if they skip more than one meal. One might be that they gorged or have a little upset stomach, but if a pup should continue to not want to eat for more than one meal then it would be time to have them checked over. With parvo, they stop eating and quickly look like they have lost weight by the second day. So just be aware of it. Your pups are pretty young for parvo since it usually strikes a little later since it usually takes a little longer for their immunity passed from mom fades away.

I would just be sure each pup eats every day even it if is only one meal. Most of the time, they should be eating each time, but depending on what else they ate, bugs, grass, etc, they might skip one.
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