Feeding your little four-legged companion the right foods at the appropriate times will help her get the nutrients she needs, continue to grow and stay healthy. If done properly, the transition from milk to soft food to dry puppy food should go quite smoothly.
First Month’s Diet
For the first 3 to 4 weeks, a puppy should eat an exclusive diet of mother’s milk. If the mother isn’t producing enough milk for some reason or you’re dealing with an orphaned puppy, she should be fed a milk replacement formula up to that point.
Soft food generally is introduced into a puppy’s diet around the 3- to 4-week mark, although milk still is a main part of her diet. The soft food you offer the puppy can be canned soft food or dry puppy food that has been soaked with water or milk replacement formula to make a gruel-like texture. When the soft food is offered, she may not know what to do with it at first. The first few attempts may end up more on her coat and the ground than in her tummy, but she will learn quickly enough how to eat it. Practice makes perfect.
Between the third or fourth week to the seventh or eighth weeks, the puppy will start to eat more puppy food and less milk. The mother naturally will start to wean the puppies from her milk by standing up during a feeding and walking away from a feeding puppy or just nudging the puppy away with her nose. The puppy quickly learns that it can eat what mommy is eating or it will just be hungry. An empty tummy is a good motivator to seek other food. If you are weaning the orphaned pup or mother hasn't started it by the end of the fourth week, start to separate the puppy from her mother for a couple hours and placing her in a warm, draft-free area. Place a shallow pie pan with a bit of soft, high-quality puppy food in the area. Let her nose around and explore for a while. When you’re ready, wash the soft food from her coat with a slightly damp washcloth, if she got messy, and place her back with her mommy and litter mates, or in her regular area.
Transitioning from Soft to Dry Food
Around the seventh week, you should start transitioning from soft to dry puppy food. Over the course of that week, progressively replace some of the soft food with dry food. By the end of the eighth week, this transition should be complete and she should be fed exclusively high-quality dry puppy food. She should be fed three to four times a day up until she is 6 months old. Then reduce it to twice daily feedings.