Did you know young puppies don’t need to drink any water at all?
WHAT!!? That sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Every animal on earth needs to drink water in order to survive. Still, young puppies don’t need water. Read more, and find out exactly how this is possible below!
Believe it or not, a puppy won’t need anything besides the milk from its momma prior to weaning age, about 3-4 weeks. The mother’s milk will give the pup not only all of the nutrition he needs to thrive, but all of the hydration as well! The mother dog will begin to wean her little ones off of her milk between 3-4 weeks. Prior to that, the puppies shouldn’t be separated from their mothers.
- The best time to begin to introduce puppies to water and wet puppy food is around 3-4 weeks of age.
Updated on 7/15/2019 by William Hill: Updated tips, links, and formatting.
In a natural setting, the mother dog will begin to gradually wean her puppies off of her milk at around 3-4 weeks, lasting all the way out until about 8 weeks. During this time, the puppies will eat a mixture of her milk, solid food and water.
Many dog owners will adopt their pets at 4-6 weeks, which is fine. Remember to provide wet food at first, slowly and gradually moving to dry dog food between 8-10 weeks!
Although it isn’t necessary to provide young babies/puppies with water or outside nutrition, it’s extremely important to make sure the mother receives plenty of it! After all, the puppies receive nutrition through their mother’s milk. If the mother is malnourished, the puppies are likely going to be also.
Though no puppy should be separated from the mother this young, it happens all of the time. Whether it be an accidental death, inexperienced breeder, or early separation, you can still nourish those little ones just fine! Commercial, canine specific milk replacers and formulas designed to mimic the mother’s milk are available on the market and pretty easy to find.
A mother dog, just like a human mother, will pass all kinds of high quality nutrients to her babies via her milk; many that can’t exactly be synthesized by humans. Commercial milk is not as good as a mother’s milk, but will give your puppy a second chance if absolutely necessary!
Believe it or not, puppies can sometimes drink too much water! Called ‘water intoxication’, this is less common but serious. It can either happen when the puppy drinks too much water, or accidentally takes in too much while playing/swimming. You should contact your veterinarian if this is suspected!
Symptoms of Water Intoxication
Loss of coordination
Light gum color
Dehydration is more common than overhydration, but can easily become deadly. All mammals rely on water to keep their bodies functioning, to maintain circulatory volume, even to help transport oxygen throughout the body! Water is perhaps the single most vital nutrient for our survival. For these reasons, dehydration is a very serious condition in puppys and should be avoided at all costs!
- Severe dehydration can lead to liver & kidney failure, then death.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Loss of appetite
Reduced energy levels and/or lethargy
Sunken, dry-looking eyes
Dry nose and gums
Loss of skin elasticity
If you suspect your dog is dehydrated, take him in to a veterinarian (emergency veterinarian if outside normal business hours). They will initiate IV fluids if necessary, using a saline solution containing the vital electrolytes your dog has lost.
1. Why shouldn’t I seperate my puppy before 4 weeks?
Now you know about a mother’s milk, but there is another reason you shouldn’t separate puppies too early. Young puppies develop vital social skills from their litter-mates during this crucial period! A puppy who was separated too early, say- at 2 weeks or immediately after birth, can easily grow to become a timid, easily frightened or aggressive, antisocial adult.
2. How much water should a puppy drink daily?
You don’t need to provide water to a puppy still nursing prior to 3-4 weeks; they will get everything they need from the mother.
The average dog will drink about ½ to one ounce of water per pound of body weight during the day. Of course, this is never exact and will vary depending on circulatory volume, weather conditions, exercise, and many other things. Always providing open sources of water is a good idea!
- Make sure to monitor your puppy, ensuring he is drinking enough, or not too much!
3. How often should puppies drink water?
According to the American Kennel Club, young puppies no longer relying on their mother’s milk should be given ½ cup of water every two hours. Older puppies need between ½ to one ounce of water per pound of body weight daily.
Though they perspire through their paw pads, dogs don’t really sweat like humans do. Instead, they regulate their temperature through panting. Water is still released through respiration, so it’s even more important to make sure your pup is getting enough water!
4. When can puppies eat dry food without water?
Many sources will disagree on to the exact timeframe, but puppies should begin to wean from wet food to solid, dry food at about 7 weeks of age. In order to prevent digestive problems, don’t immediately make the switch between wet and dry food, but use a gradual transition.
Video: Teach Your Dog to Drink Water on Cue!
Click here to see video.
Though puppies can survive off their mother’s milk for a time, their mother can’t survive without water. After 3-4 weeks, the puppy will also need to start drinking water. Keep your pup happy and healthy by providing a continuous source of cool, clean water!
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