Having started life on mother's milk, puppies are weaned between five and six weeks of age. The timing depends on the dam's willingness to nurse and the practices of the breeder. While the pups are still nursing, at about four weeks, the breeder will begin to feed them a fine-textured, well-moistened, nutritious gruel to begin to accustom them to solid food. At first the food is all over the place. It must be served in a low dish or pan so the pups can reach it, but then, of course, they can also walk through and play in it. This milestone in the puppies' lives marks the beginning of several weeks of more cleanup work for the breeder.
Puppies should never leave their dam and littermates before they are 8 weeks of age, and by the time you bring your puppy home she will have been fully weaned and eagerly crunching on puppy kibble. The breeder should send you home with a supply of the food the pup has been eating. You can either continue feeding that food or change to a different one. If you change, do it gradually, starting with about 25 percent of the new food and gradually increasing the proportion for about a week until only the new food is being served. (Changing food for dogs of any age should be done in this gradual manner to avoid upsetting the puppy's or dog's digestive system.)
Young puppies should be fed three times a day, at about the same times each day. Offer one-third of the daily ration at each serving. Set the food down in front of the pup and allow her to eat for ten or fifteen minutes. At the end of that time, pick up the dish and do not offer more food until the next mealtime.
You probably won't have to worry about your Jack Russell puppy eating enough—most are eager eaters. They may play around or even miss a meal or two, particularly when they are first brought to their new home, but they will soon get with the program. (A loss of appetite for longer periods may require your veterinarian's attention.) Be very sure that plenty of fresh, clean water is always available.
Puppies require more protein and calories per pound of body weight than adults, so a general rule for Jack Russells is to serve the same amount of food per day to a pup as you would expect her to eat each day as an adult. For the most part, this would be about one cup of good-quality, small kibble per day. You can check with the breeder for information on how much food he or she expects your pup will require as an adult. Feeding guidelines printed on dog food bags are only estimates and should not be relied on as the precise amounts to feed your dog or puppy.
When your puppy reaches 5 or 6 months of age, she can be fed just twice a day, morning and evening, one-half the daily ration each time. Many breeders continue to feed two meals a day throughout the life of the dog, but some choose to feed only once a day after the dog reaches adulthood.
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