The pups are growing quickly! As they develop, it's critical that they get a complete diet, full of all the nutrients they need. We are bottle-feeding the pups with Esbilac, a puppy milk replacer developed for dogs but commonly used for wolves. Even though it's been carefully developed, nothing can match mother's milk, and the pups are undoubtedly missing out on things that can never be condensed into a formula.
One of those things is regurgitated meat. Throughout the summer, wild pups stay behind while the rest of the pack hunts. Instead of bringing the pups to any kills that are made, the adults bring the meal to them by regurgitating whatever meat they're carrying in their stomachs. Think of it as wolf baby food. It's a vital part of the weaning process, and because lactation is so energetically expensive for the mother, it's wildly beneficial for pups to be weaned earlier, rather than later.
When we gathered these pups for hand-raising at 12 days old, their initial stools suggested that they may already have had their first taste of meat, suggesting that their mother had begun regurgitating for them. While it's still very early days in the hand-raising process, we want to continue that practice. Fortunately, we don't ask our puppy nannies to regurgitate for the pups! Instead, we've begun feeding them a raw diet.
We are incredibly excited to announce that Chuck and Don's is sponsoring this year's pups, and they are generously donating high quality raw dog food to help them through the weaning process! Raw dog food includes all of the nutrients found in organs and bones, just like a regurgitated wolf meal. These very important components would be missing if we only fed the pups venison meat. By feeding raw dog food, rather than just venison, we can rest easy knowing that the pups are getting all of the nutrients they need.
The little ones are loving this new addition, eagerly lapping it up and spreading it across their faces. Eating mush is messy work! We allow them to eat as much as they like before offering the bottle, "topping" them of. Naturally, some pups eat more of the raw than others, and all are still drinking various amounts of milk, but they are well on their way to adopting a carnivorous diet!