I have been getting a few requests for information on what we are feeding the pups. While I have posted some of this information under Puppies: Feeding Puppy http://www.chocolateclanlabradors.com/feedingpuppy.htm, some of this information is rather general in nature. So the following is an update as best as I can do:
Milk and kibble (birth to 4 weeks): At birth, the pups drank mother's milk. The initial colostrum is important for protecting the pups for those first few weeks of life as they have no natural immunity of their own. However, the demands on Maggie as the pups grow was astronomical. She was eating 12 to 16 cups of puppy food herself during that period. As such we had to ensure that the food had enough fat to ensure she had the calorie supply she needed. So we were feeding ProPlan Focus Puppy Chicken and Rice. In the beginning, when we introduced food to the pups when they were at 2 weeks, Maggie ate most of it. We soaked the kibble and mashed it so pups did not need to chew and mostly lapped it up. As they grew and got teeth, we reduced moisture. So in the beginning, it was important to meet calorie demands of mother and pups.
Weaning and growing from 4-8 weeks: At four weeks, Maggie started to wean the pups. For those of you who visited during that period, you will quickly understand that with those sharp teeth and nails it was actually hurting her to feed the pups. It was only the great need to feed the pups and drain her teats that was keeping her going into the nursery. By this time the pups were starting to eat all the food we put out, so it was no longer necessary for it to meet Maggie's calorie demands. We changed the pups over to ProPlan Focus Large Breed Puppy. From 4 to 6 weeks, we decreased the amount of soaking and changed it to completely dry by seven weeks. We also increased the amount we were serving each time from 1/4 cup per pup to 1/2 cup per pup. Right now we are feeding them four times a day. For most families, it will be tough to feed four times a day, and these guys are growing so fast, and eating so fast, that reducing the number of times you feed to 2 or 3 should not be an issue.
REMEMBER CLEAN WATER is essential as the pups are on dry food.
POST NURSERY (after 8 weeks): Your pups will be growing fast and playing hard so they will need food for growth and maintenance. It is important to keep them on puppy food for at least the first 12 months of their lives. Puppy food has the right balance of fat and nutrients, so the pups have energy to grow and play. But it is at a rate that allows their bones to form in a balanced manner. We want them to have healthy bones and the right conformation to prevent early injuries, especially to those back knees. Torn ACL's is one of the most common injuries to large breed dogs. You can help to prevent it using three strategies: don't spay or neuter your animal too early (12 to 18 months at the earliest); do feed a good or high quality dog food with the right balance of protein and fat; don't do high impact training or playing until your pup is 12 to 18 months old. The later does not mean you cannot play with, or train, your pup. Just do it all in moderation.