Transitioning from mother’s milk to solid dog food is a major step in a puppy’s life. Keep these tips in mind when determining if your puppy is prepared for dry dog food. Weaning at the appropriate time is essential in the physical and emotional development of your dog.
Puppies are generally ready to eat solid food between the ages of 6 to 8 weeks old. However, according to Purina, it’s not uncommon for puppies to start eating from their mother’s dish at 4 or 5 weeks old. A puppy attempting to eat adult food does not necessarily mean it’s ready to be weaned. "The Complete Book of Dog Breeding" warns owners that an aggressive appetite is only one sign of maturity. Evaluate the physical and mental maturity of each puppy to determine if it's ready to eat solid food.
If the puppy has not already started to eat from its mother's dish, introduce it to solid food by 6 weeks of age. Add warm water or milk to dry food in order to make digestion easier. Be watchful not to moisten dry dog food too much, as too much milk can act as a laxative and cause digestive issues for your dog. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the amount of milk softener can be slowly decreased until only dry kibble remains. Puppies should be eating solid food without moistener by 7 to 8 weeks of age.
Feeding Time Tips
Feed your puppy an appropriate early-stage food at least three times a day and keep fresh water available at all times. Creating a daily feeding routine for your new dog can also aid in housebreaking and prevent a finicky eater. Consult your veterinarian about the exact amount and for help creating a long-term feeding schedule suited to the puppy's development needs.
Puppies from large litters can usually start eating solid food earlier than those from smaller litters. Watch for young dogs that might be ready to wean earlier than siblings. Maturing puppies demonstrate signs of independence such as playing apart from litter mates, competing for food, and approaching humans on their own.