How to Get a Five Week Old Puppy to Eat

Wow, puppy breath is better than human breath.
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When you bring a new puppy home at the tender age of 5 weeks, he may not be eating on his own very well. Puppies receive all the nutrients they need in their mother’s milk at a young age, but need weaning in order to learn to eat puppy food. Be prepared for a puppy who gets food stuck in his fur, climbs in the bowl and makes some messes as you transition him from gruel to eating dry food. You will enjoy the sweet smell of puppy breath in short time.

Step 1

Determine the amount of dry puppy food your pup needs by his weight on the package directions. Divide the daily amount by six to get the amount to feed him six times a day. Puppies eat very small amounts often to keep their energy levels up for proper growth and health.

Step 2

Pour the dry puppy food into a shallow dish. Add canine milk replacer and let it soak into the dry food for about 10 minutes. Mash the dry food with a fork into the milk replacer to make gruel out of the food.

Step 3

Place several layers of newspaper on the floor in about a 3-foot square area where your puppy will eat. Place the gruel bowl on the newspaper. Stand your puppy next to the bowl on the newspaper. Newspaper protects the floor from food spills, eliminates mopping and saves time in clean up of his dinner table.

Step 4

Dip a fingertip into the gruel and touch it to your puppy’s nose. He will most likely smell the food and then lick his nose to clean it off himself. Repeat touching the food to him, but this time on his lips. Do this several times to start him eating the food and getting used to the taste.

Step 5

Dip a finger into the food and place it just in front of your puppy’s mouth, but do not touch his lips with it. Allow him to move forward and lick the food off your finger. Repeat this action, holding your finger slightly farther away from his mouth each time.

Step 6

Place a finger slowly into the food dish, hold it barely out of the dish and let your puppy follow the scent to the bowl. He will more than likely make a mess when he inserts his nose into the gruel, but will lick his lips and start eating from the bowl.

Step 7

Remove the bowl and any leftover contents when your puppy walks away and loses interest in eating. Pour fresh water into an additional shallow bowl and place it on fresh newspaper in the eating area.


  • After washing a food-laden puppy, place him in a warm area so he doesn’t get cold. You can wrap him in a towel and hold him on your lap for comfort.

  • Do not leave a small puppy alone at feeding time. You need to see how much food is actually ingested and how much he wears or plays in. Monitor his eating habits and increase his food amounts as he grows, while reducing the amount of meals per day. Puppies who eat the entire bowl of food at each meal may need a larger quantity if they are active and not overweight.


  • Clean your puppy thoroughly after meals to remove any leftover food that is in his fur. Puppies’ faces and paws are often decorated with food as they learn to eat. Wash him with a warm, damp washcloth and dry him thoroughly with a towel to prevent skin problems and possible infections.

  • It may take a puppy a day or so to get the idea of eating from a bowl on his own.

  • Reduce the amount of canine milk replacer slowly after a few days to make the gruel thicker. Eventually phase out the milk and offer your puppy dry dog food at about 6 to 8 weeks old, when he has small teeth to chew it.

Items You Will Need

  • Dry puppy food
  • Canine milk replacer
  • Fork
  • 2 shallow dishes
  • Newspaper