Frequently, when a bitch has a small bait from one or two puppies her milk will begin to disappear much sooner than if she had a large bait to feed. Also if the mother has been covered too often without a break, her milk may be missing sooner than it should. However, even if the mother has enough milk to continue feeding the puppies to an appreciable degree, she will often develop, when the bait is 2 1/2 to 3 weeks old, an instinctive and natural attitude of returning the contents of her stomach, composed of half-digested foods, for her puppies to eat, suggesting in her own way that the time for weaning has come. If we have started a supplemental feeding regime at the right time, this attitude on the part of the bitch will rarely occur.
To begin the weaning process we should use any of the preparations suggested in the previous chapter for orphaned puppies. Pour some of this liquid mixture into a shallow saucepan after heating it to body temperature and use only enough of the milk mixture to cover the bottom of the saucepan. We must then keep this, with one hand, just below the chin of the puppy and, with the other hand, take it gently by the head exactly behind the ears and, without exerting force, submerge his snout and lips in the pan. Let go of her head immediately, she will lick her lips and like the taste of the liquid she finds in them.
Let's talk to him gently and in a stimulating tone each time we repeat the process. Sometimes, there will be a puppy that will begin to lick the milk from the pan after the first contact, other times it will be necessary to repeat the operation until the desired result is achieved. In some cases, it may be necessary to keep the puppy's chin in the pan until he begins to lick.
Be careful not to pour too much of the milk mixture into the pan or not to push the puppy's head into the liquid, as it is imperative that his nose be kept free of the new food so that he does not breathe the liquid or block his nostrils with the milk. If this happens the puppy gets scared, looks at the pan with distrust and the weaning process is slower and more exasperating.
Repeat the process with each puppy until everyone has started licking on their own initiative, stressing that while it will be necessary to keep the casserole at chin level for the first few times they are given food in this way, the casserole can be deposited on the floor as soon as they practice eating, or licking, within it.
Of course they will pile up and get into the pan, staining themselves and their littermates with their contents, but they will also become more adept at the process of eating in a container, which, after all, is the ultimate goal pursued. Let us administer the mixture twice a day for the first two and, by the end of this period, we will have made the act of eating in a saucepan a conditioned routine. It is then time to add some fat and solid matter to your diet but, considering that you cannot yet chew, any such matter that is added will have to be shredded into very small pieces to constitute a creamy consistency mixture when administered with food.
Puppies grow best when they follow diets made up of milk, meat, fat and cereals. Growth is mainly achieved through protein, but protein differs, which is why puppies fed vegetable protein diets do not grow or develop as well as those fed animal protein.
Vitamins E and K (found in alfalfa) are essential to the puppy's well-being and should be present in adequate amounts in the diet. Remember, too, that 70 percent of a puppy's energy comes from fat intake, so this food element should be generously added to the ration. In experiments conducted, puppies fed fat-free diets have developed deficiency symptoms characterized by anemia, weight loss, dull hair, reduced vitality and, ultimately, death. Fat, however, cannot by itself cure the advanced manifestation of this condition, in which there are signs of alteration of some metabolic process by completely suppressing this element in the diet but when butter has been administered along with folacin, this has resulted in spectacular cures.
Fat also acts as a carrier for vitamins A, D, K and E and, in addition, not only slows the rate of digestion and makes the animal get as much nutrition from its food as possible but helps in many other ways to keep the puppy, or the dog fully developed, healthy and vigorous. In order for our puppy to enjoy all the virtues present in fat, it is necessary to incorporate it in 20 or 30 percent of his diet.
Practically every breeder we stumble upon has his own diet for weaning and the subsequent phase, but the basic element necessary in any of them is balance, and a properly balanced food must be one that translates into growth, health and vitality. There are excellent commercial foods on the market for puppies in the form of grain, to which only milk and fat need to be added. Or, for this purpose, it is also possible to buy baby foods in grain form, such as Pablum, Ceravin or those advertised with the words "high level of protein" and "reinforced". These, however, must also be modified to meet the dietary needs of the puppies.
The author uses a mixture of ground oats and wheat as the basic cereal. To this, while cooking, a cup of vitamin-enforced corn flour, dried and powdered eggs, melted fat (ox, pork, butter, chicken, Crisco, etc.), chopped beef, a little salt and powdered milk are added. After this mixture has been cooked and cooled, a small amount of flour with vitamins and minerals is added to it, thoroughly stirred and the resulting dough is divided into appropriately sized jars and stored in the refrigerator.
To get it ready for immediate use, place the necessary amount in the saucepan of the food, add raw meat and properly chopped fat (heart, tongue, intestine and a small amount of ox liver) to increase the volume administered by about 25 percent, finally adding evaporated milk dissolved in water.
This mixture of milk and water is preheated and, when added to the solids, it all reaches the right temperature. After mixing, the food has the consistency of a very thick cream, which must be gradually converted into something denser and more viscous, similar to a stew, until the puppies reach 4 weeks.
When the bait is 5 weeks old, a finely ground grain puppy meal is progressively introduced into the basic diet. And when the puppies reach 6 1/2 to 8 weeks, the original formula has been eliminated and they are fed grain with fat and raw meat, milk and animal broth to lend it the right consistency. A good edible oil (such as Dietol) or fish liver concentrate is a valuable supplement to a puppy's diet. This is done by placing a drop on the corner of the puppy's lips one day after birth and every day thereafter for one week, then 2 drops, then 4 drops until weaning, when the oil can already be added to food. We must be very careful, however, not to exaggerate the administration of any additional dietary oil because we can cause exactly the kind (in appearance) of bone problem (rickets) that we try to avoid with its use.
Two portions of the basic diet and two portions of warm milk reinforced with a little fat should be administered every day. When the puppy is completely weaned, three servings of the basic diet and two servings of milk should be administered. It should be noted that it is only necessary to administer three meals a day during the period between 3 and 6 months.
Writing here about feeding reminds the author of a litter of puppies he raised in Spain, on the Andalusian coast, near Malaga. No dog food was available and all the ingredients had to be purchased raw and prepared from the beginning. Wheat and lentils had to be soaked overnight to soften them enough for use. The meat had a high price and was scarce, so it acquired spleens, lungs, guts and curdled blood (the latter cooked and cut into blocks), which was excellent for puppies. For both the mother and the puppies it was necessary for me to cook large quantities of the ingredients mentioned, to which I added legumes, rice, olive oil and fat. And to all this our maid, secretly added a clove of garlic. Cod liver oil and powdered calcium phosphates were available in a pharmacy.
Incidentally, veterinarians in this part of the world know little about dogs and have no serum to combat the feared viral or bacteriological diseases. It was necessary for me to send a hasty call for help to my son Allan, a veterinarian, who immediately sent me a package of medicines with everything I needed to keep the puppies in good health and free of diseases and worms.
The dog that the bait brought into the world was an excellent specimen from Volker v. ZollgrenzschutzHaus that my wife and I had seen and admired at the Sieger exhibition in Germany, where we had stopped during our trip to Spain. We negotiated and bought the dog and had it sent to us in Spain after it had been covered by a good dog, Bob v. Reidkanal. The puppies she gave birth were sold in Spain. They were big, healthy, with strong bones and understood the orders in English, German and Spanish.
During all the time we are busy with weaning and feeding the puppies we must not forget that there are other tasks that also need to be carried out. Their nails must be kept short, using manicure scissors, so that they don't scratch the eyes of their littermates during their games. Their eyes will open when they have a week to 12 days (according to the ovulation period of the bitch) and they will be blue until later they change to their true brown color.
When puppies are about 3 1/2 weeks old, a faecal analysis should be performed by our veterinarian to determine if they have worms (and, to be honest, most have them) and what kind of worms they are. If they are infested with worms we must fight them immediately, and if as a consequence of them they have become sickly we should not try to make them grow without first freeing them from parasites. After the worms have been eliminated, the puppies will quickly return to a normal level of health and growth.
Also, before the puppies are completely weaned, and preferably while still feeding on the mother's udders, it is advisable to consult our veterinarian about a scheduled series of inoculations and preventive vaccinations. A new distemper serum (human smallpox serum) is now available that can be administered to puppies at a very early age, even when they are still being breastfed. This serum, administered by intramuscular inoculation, is not affected by the natural immunity that puppies enjoy when they drink their mother's milk, an immunity that on multiple occasions makes normal immunization vaccines negative.
SEE ALSO: How do You Feed a German Shepherd
This new vaccine is effective until the puppy has overcome all the important phases of its early growth and, when it is approximately six months old, it can be administered the normal immunization vaccine against distemper. Incidentally, the worms that most puppies suffer from are round currents. To combat them we have Piperazine, which is less toxic than most worm medicines and offers the advantage that the pup can be fed normally, so we recommend it for round worms, whose larvae in the mother's circulatory torrent often cross the placenta to infect the pup before birth.
In later chapters we'll find more information about our puppy's health and how to feed him. Most people worry about if their puppy gains enough weight. One way to determine this is to look at your puppy's general condition, complexion and vitality. Another way is to weigh them and keep notes of the various gains. From six months of age to full development, an average, satisfactory weight gain per week for a healthy, fast-growing German shepherd puppy is about 2.9 to 3.9 pounds.
Let us also remember to make our puppy aware, at an early age, of water as a drink. At first it does not seem that they see it or that they know what it is, but soon they learn to lick it, just as they do with milk and other foods mixed with it, and in this regard it should be borne in mind that it is a valuable complement and rich in minerals for their diet.