Your adorable pups need their mother's milk to provide them with antibodies as a protection against disease. Pups continue nursing up to 8 weeks of age, but can transition to solid food at 4 weeks old. The transition should be gradual to avoid gastric upset.
Introduce dry food or kibble. Choose a puppy kibble that is nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense puppy kibble is high in protein, calcium and calories. Meat should be the first ingredient. Avoid dry food that contains corn and meat by-products, which are the animal leftovers, such as the head, feet, kidneys and bones. Mix the dry kibble with warm water and milk replacer. Milk replacer is available at pet stores. Blend the mixture to the consistency of gruel.
Your puppies’ teeth are coming in at 3 to 4 weeks of age so they are ready to experience solid food. Pick up each pup and place a small amount of food in his mouth. He will start to chew as he begins to experience this new taste. It won't take long before they adapt to the taste of solid food. Once they like the taste and start to chew, place the food in a shallow bowl. Discard any uneaten food.
You also can introduce the gruel by placing it on a hard surface and let the pups walk in it. They quickly will lick the food off from their paws. This may not work for all pups, if you have one that is being pushed aside.
Feed the pups three to four times a day. Gradually start to reduce the amount of water and milk replacer to avoid or minimize any gastric upset. By the time your puppies are 8 weeks old, they are ready to eat solid kibble. The amount of kibble depends on the brand and breed of the pups. Use the table on the dog food package as a guide, but ask your veterinarian how much you should feed them.
Some pups are bullies and some pups are not. If you have a pup that the others push aside, feed him separate from the pack.
As the pups eat more solid food, they will drink less of their mother's milk. Introduce them to water. Boil the water and cool it. Take a little water in the cup of your hand and let each pup drink from your hand. You then can place the water in a shallow bowl.
- golden retriever puppy image by asiana from Fotolia.com