How to Introduce a Puppy to His First Food

by Pauline Gill
    Puppies' teeth come in at 3 weeks of age.

    Puppies' teeth come in at 3 weeks of age.

    Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    Mother knows best when it comes to your roly-poly bundle of fur. Her milk provides complete nutrition for the first four weeks of life, but when baby teeth come in, at 3 to 4 weeks of age, give Mom a break and slowly introduce your puppies to their first food.

    Step 1

    Purchase a quality kibble formulated for puppies. It should contain 25 to 35 grams of protein per serving and be void of corn. Corn is difficult for puppies to digest. Avoid any puppy food that includes meat byproducts—these are the leftovers such as feet, beaks and even bone meal.

    Step 2

    Mix a small amount of the kibble with hot water. Let the food soak in the water until it softens.

    Step 3

    Add milk replacer to the soaked food and mash the kibble. Continue to add milk replacer until the food reaches the consistency of gruel. You can find milk replacer at your pet store.

    Step 4

    Spread the gruel on a flat surface. This gives your puppy a chance to walk in the gruel. He will instinctively lap it from his paws. You can also dip your finger in the gruel and let him lap it.

    Step 5

    Introduce the gruel slowly so there isn't any gastric upset. You can start with twice a day for the first day or two. Work up to three or four times a day, and then start to decrease the milk replacer for a thicker gruel.

    Step 6

    Feed your puppy solid kibble by the time he is 8 weeks of age. Divide the feedings into three to four feedings a day. If he is eating one cup of food each day, divide it into a quarter of a cup four times a day, or a third of a cup three times a day.

    Items You Will Need

    • Premium puppy kibble
    • Hot water
    • Milk replacer

    Tips

    • Monitor your pup's weight to make sure he is getting enough food. As you begin feeding solid food he should nurse less, but stay with his mother and nurse as much as he likes until he is 6 to 8 weeks old. During this time he should be gaining weight.
    • Watch for food aggression. If your pup growls when you take the food dish away, work with him by frequently removing the food as he eats. When he growls, hold the food back for a few minutes until he learns not to growl.

    Warning

    • Don't switch puppy foods unless necessary. If you must switch foods, do it gradually. Begin with 25 percent new food mixed with 75 percent old food. Each day or two, increase the amount of new food to old food.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.

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