When puppies are born, the first thing on their mind is finding their mom’s warmth and seeking food. But once puppies reach a certain age, it is time to help wean them off of their mother’s milk. The easiest way to wean a puppy is to mix dry dog food with water.
The dry food, though, should not be mixed with water for all of a dog’s life because it could cause picky eaters. The trick, then, is knowing when a puppy no longer needs their dry food mixed with water. We can help you figure that out.
Why Add Water to Your Puppy’s Dry Food?
When puppies are born, their first instinct is to suckle for their food. They do not know any other way to eat, much less how to drink water. When puppies reach 4 weeks their mother’s milk does not have enough nutrients for them to grow, which means it is time for you to help transition them to normal dog food.
But puppies cannot immediately start eating food, especially since they barely have their baby teeth coming in. You need to entice the puppies to try the dry food. By soaking the food in water it can be squished into an easy to eat mash and it produces a natural, smelly gravy that catches the puppies’ attention.
It might take the puppies a few tries at the food before they can eat properly, but once they do, they will rely less on mom for food and more on the humans who take care of them. It is important not to soak the dry food for too long or you risk it becoming inedible for the dog. And make sure you always mix the dry food with warm water, nobody likes eating cold porridge, even puppies.
Why Shouldn’t You Keep Adding Water to Their Dry Food?
While there is no initial harm if you continue to add water to your puppy’s food, your dog could develop picky eating habits. Some dogs may never grow out of wanting soggy dog food because of the more enticing flavor the soggy food offers. Because of this, it may be harder to feed your dog if they refuse to eat anything but the soggy food.
More so, the danger in soaking dry food comes from the actual soaking process. We recommend soaking dry food for a half hour maximum, or you risk fermenting the dog food and making it inedible. The soaked food also has a higher tendency to attract flies, especially when not checked properly. So really, the main danger in soaking wet food is if the food is not properly prepared, otherwise the food is fine for consumption.
Also, it takes time to prepare your puppy’s food this way, so the sooner you can get him onto dry food the better for you.
How Can You Help Transition Your Puppy’s Dietary Needs?
Puppies should be introduced to soaked dry food when they are about 4 weeks of age. This gives mom a break from her pups and helps them become independent. The soaked dry food needs to resemble an oatmeal-like texture so it can be easily lapped up by the still learning puppies.
When picking the dry food, make sure you purchase food for puppy specific diets. These puppy foods are made with the nutrients and calories growing puppies need, which adult dog foods do not offer. Plus, the puppy foods often have smaller kibble sizes so it is easier for the puppies to eat.
Dog Food Brands to Consider:
These listed brands are amongst the healthiest for puppies and dogs because they are grain free and contain limited ingredients to avoid food allergens. The majority of these foods have puppy formulas, but also have formulas that work for all life stages. Transitioning to adult dog food will be easier, and less of a strain on the puppies’ stomachs, if the food is kept within the same brand.
We recommend that whatever brand you choose to go with, always read the ingredient lists. If the first ingredient is grain or corn, then the food has little nutrients and is more a filler type of food. If the first ingredient is a type of meat, then you know you are providing the best nutrients for your growing puppy or dog.
When Can Puppies Eat Dry Food Without Water?
So now that you have the desired food for your puppies and have figured out the proper water to dry food ratio, next comes figuring out how long to keep up the watered dry kibble diet. Ideally, a puppy should be fully weaned from the mother dog at 8 weeks. At that age, they can be separated from the mom without worries of them still needing her for food or care.
That means that within a month the puppies should rely more and more on the dry food diet. To do this, you will have to slowly reduce the amount of water added to the dry food over the month period. You do not want to reduce the water content too much too quick or the puppies will not have interest in eating the food or will have difficulty eating the harder food.
Consider reducing the water content by ten percent every 2-3 days. This gives the puppies a chance to adjust to the new food texture more easily. If the puppies are having a hard time adjusting, give them an extra day between the changes.
By 8 weeks, the puppies should have their full set of baby teeth and should be able to eat the non-soggy dry food. But not all puppies eat the same, so if one still needs help with the transition give them a little extra care. Do not get discouraged with your puppies, they will be eating dry food in no time.
Follow This Feeding Fundamental!
Transitioning a puppy from their mother’s formula to a dry food diet is easy, but it requires daily monitoring and help from the owners. Without this help, puppies will either not gain the nutrients they need or will not want to eat the dry food later on in life.
Only let your puppy be fully weaned from the mother dog at 8 weeks. This is the ideal age when they can be separated from the mom without worries of them still needing her for food or care.