Puppies grow up so fast. When they are born all, they want is to crawl up and enjoy the warmth from their mother if present. They will also breastfeed or be it on a formula to reap the benefits needed for speedy growth. Once the puppy reaches a certain age, they need to be put on dry foods. So, when is this right time?
In this article, we have taken a look at everything you need to know about feeding your adorable and delicate puppy on dry food.
When Can A Puppy Eat Dry Food?
A puppy is ready to start having dry foods when he is between 4-5 weeks old. However, the food needs to be mixed with liquids until the puppy’s digestive system can handle dry kibble when they reach the age of 9-10 weeks.
A puppy is ready to be weaned once they are 4-5 weeks old. The mother’s milk or replacement formula is nutritious, but when a puppy is a month old, their body needs more nutrients than milk can provide.
Once you start weaning your puppy with dry or wet food, you will need to slowly transition to give their tummy tie to adjust to the new normal without causing problems.
You will need to mix the dry food with some milk formula until the puppy becomes accustomed to it. However, you need to identify when the puppy stops needing their dry food mixed with water or milk formula. Doing so for too long can lead to pickiness.
A puppy can be fed dry food with some water or milk formula added to it when he is 4-5 weeks old. Ensure you keep adding more dry food and less water or milk until you finally eliminate the liquids.
They may take time to adjust to the dry food, chew more actively, and eat slower. After that, the pup will be used to eating dry food, and they can start eating the dry food on their own by the time they are 9-10 weeks old.
Why Is It Essential To Add Liquid To Dry Food?
When puppies are all they know is suckle milk from their mother or drink formula. They are not accustomed to the dry foods and munching their food away.
By the fourth week, however, their mother runs out of adequate nutrients, which necessitates weaning with dry foods. The system of the puppy is, however, not ready for a sudden haul.
Therefore, you need to wean with dry foods by adding some water or formulae replacement milk to keep stomach upsets to a minimum. The system of the puppy needs a slow transition from breast milk or formula to dry food.
It’s also crucial to create a mash using dry food and some water or milk to facilitate chewing and digestion.
A puppy’s small teeth start developing at two weeks old, but it’s only until at least ten weeks that the teeth fully develop. The tiny teeth at 4-5 weeks may not be able to chew dry food effectively. Therefore, it’s essential to make a mash of your puppy’s food to help in chewing and digestion.
When the dry food soaks in the milk or water, it creates a nice gravy that produces a natural scent that makes the food more appealing tenth pup. The smelly gravy makes it easier to wean the puppy on dry food.
Ensure the liquid you are using is at the right temperature, preferably warm or at room temperature, because not even your puppy wants to eat cold porridge.
How Should You Start Feeding Dry Food?
Weaning your puppy will not be an easy task because they are used to milk. However, once you get the hang of how to wean, you will have an easy 4-5 weeks of weaning.
The process is straightforward. Always combine the dry food with warm water or milk.
Again, nobody wants to be fed cold porridge. If the food you are weaning the puppy onto was in the freezer or fridge, take it out on time and let it thaw before adding the liquid to it.
Weaning takes 4-5 weeks, as we mentioned. Every week has its guidelines for successful weaning. In the first week, combine one part of dry food with three portions of liquid. Let the dry food soak for a while, then mash the mixture using a spoon until you achieve a mushy consistency.
The first week’s mash needs to be extra liquid because the puppy is just being introduced to a new meal. Doing this ensures that there are little resistance and stomach upsets.
In the second week, increase the amount of dry food by a portion and decrease the liquid by a part such that they are equal. The mush will be less consistent, but the puppy will get used to it.
You don’t have to increase the whole portion in one day. You can do it gradually until you get to an entire part by the end of the week.
In the following weeks, you will increase the amount of dry food as you reduce the liquid until the puppy adjusts to dry food.
You can move slow with the proportions if you realize that your puppy is having digestion problems and diarrhea or vomiting.
It takes different puppies different times to adjust to a new diet. Ensure you are observant to note when it’s time to change the proportions. Nothing is written on stone!
Soaking the food should be a temporary thing, however. There is no effect in adding more liquid instead of decreasing it, but it could get your puppy “hooked” so that they will never be open to dry food. A puppy must grow out of eating soggy food as they develop into an adult.
The sooner your puppy starts eating dry food independently, the better you will be since you will cut the preparation time.
Also, ensure you only soak the dry food for an hour top. Excessive soaking could lead to fermentation, which makes the food inedible. Also, mushy food can attract flies, insects, and bugs, leading to contamination and spoilage.
So how do you serve the food?
The puppy will have problems eating their food since you are introducing them to anything other than suckling. Use a shallow bowl that will allow the dog to lap the mash.
Expect the procedure to be very messy. Your puppy may dip their legs into the bowl, topple the bowl and spill the food and even play with the food while eating.
Ensure you have a damp towel close by to clean them up after the meal. Avoid shouting at them when they create a mess because it will discourage the learning process.
How Much Should You Feed Your Puppy?
If you have been a dog parent to a puppy before, you know that a puppy’s eyes are always bigger than the tummy! How do you even say no to those cute puppy dog eyes?
Puppy’s stomach is tiny, and any form of overeating may cause digestion problems, diarrhea, and vomiting. So, how much food is enough for your puppy?
A puppy should ideally be fed four times a day.
Instead of giving one large portion once or twice a day, give small parts spread throughout the day. The amount to be fed will depend on the size of your puppy.
The puppy food container usually indicates the amount that will be fed in a day, depending on the puppy’s weight. Divide the amount stated by four to determine the portion sizes that should be fed through the day. Stick to small portions to avoid overfeeding at any one time.
As the puppy grows, they will need more food and calories, so you will need to increase the parts.
After the first ten months, the puppy will be comfortable with dry foods and can then be free-fed. Free feeding refers to serving food and leaving it out so the puppy can eat it anytime.
The good thing about dry foods is that they do not spoil quickly, like wet foods. They also don’t attract insects and bugs that can contaminate the food. They can be left out for long hours without a worry.
What Should You Feed Your Puppy?
It can be challenging to determine the right food for a puppy once they are weaned off breastmilk or formula. There are so many puppy foods in the markets, making it even more daunting to pick one that actually packs benefits for your puppy.
Here are some guidelines on what to look for in a puppy’s food.
i. High calories
Puppies develop at lightning speed. In 1-2 years, your small puppy will be a fully fletched adult before you even know what is happening. Their bodies, therefore, need more calories than adult dogs since puppies require more energy to develop.
ii. A high amount of proteins
Proteins are bodybuilding foods, which are what your puppy needs for a healthy body. As a puppy is growing, all the body organs will be developing fast, meaning they need extra protein for healthy development.
iii. Small kibble
A puppy’s jaws are still small, which means they cannot be fed on the same kibble size as adult dogs. Dry food meant for puppies should come with smaller kibble to make it easier for puppies to chew and swallow without a hassle.
iv. Other essential nutrients
The best food for a puppy should be well balanced with enough calories, a high amount of protein, and other critical nutrients such as calcium for the healthy development of bones, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Puppy food should also include vitamin d, which is essential for the formation of healthy teeth.
What Not To Feed Your Puppy
Again, don’t let these puppy dog eyes get to you. The puppy knows what they are doing and what they want to get out of it. Refusing to give them what they want will not make them hate you.
The puppy will get disappointed that the trick did not work out, but they will get over it in no time.
As a puppy is developing, the goal is to feed them with the most nutritious foods to ensure they grow well. The first 12 months of your puppy’s life are critical because that’s when all the organs are developing, so the puppy needs the right foods to help in the development. Avoid feeding them;
- Table scraps and titbits- table scraps are not in the least healthy or beneficial to your pup. Say no to those puppy dog eyes and instead treat them to a walk, game, or favorite toy.
- Raw meat- raw meats can have bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, causing your puppy’s illness. Ensure that all meats are well cooked and free of any bones. A puppy’s jaws are not strong enough to chew bones.
- Avocados- granted, we all love avos but don’t share them with your dog. Avocados contain persin that can lead to severe stomach upset and heart congestion. The
- Chocolates- chocolates should not be fed to a puppy even as a treat. They contain components that increase the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system.
- Macadamia nuts- These nuts are lethal to your puppy and even adult dog even in the smallest amounts. The
- Garlic and onions- these two foods are very toxic to your puppy. They contain components such as sulfoxides and disulfides that kill gathered blood cells leading to anemia.
- Cat food- don’t even think of feeding your young canine with a feline’s food. These foods contain nutrients that are designed for a cat’s system, not a puppy.
There are many foods that are for humans but not for your puppy. Ensure you have done enough research on the food before sharing it with your puppy.
Also, treats are okay for your puppy, especially during training. However, ensure treats don’t make up more than 10% of your puppy’s dry food or diet.
Exercise is also important, especially as the puppy begins to develop into a full-grown pup. Ensure you exercise them after feeding to avoid overweight and obesity.
A puppy is ready to start having dry foods between 4-5 weeks. However, the food needs to be mixed with liquids gradually until the puppy’s digestive system can handle dry kibble.
Ensure you choose food meant for a puppy and not an adult to ensure you are providing the right proportions of ingredients. We have also outlined the foods to feed and not to feed your puppy.