When Should a Puppy Start on Puppy Food?

Puppies don't begin eating puppy food straight out of the womb.
Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

If you're caring for a newborn puppy, don't be so eager to break out the canned food. Up until a litter of puppies is old enough to be weaned, breast milk is the only "meal" they need in order to grow and develop into lively and energetic adult doggies.


If your puppy is still in the company of her mother dog and littermates, and the weaning process hasn't yet commenced, your work simply isn't necessary yet. The ASPCA reports that the typical time frame in which mother dogs start weaning their youngsters is roughly around 3 to 4 weeks in age. The full process moves rather slowly, and usually completes itself when the litter is about 2 months old.

In the event that your cutie is an orphan younger than 3 weeks, you can replicate his mother's feeding style by bottle-feeding with the assistance of a trusty commercial milk replacer and puppy formula. You too can begin the procedure of steering him away from formula around the 3 week mark.


Until weaning, a puppy has zero need to consume anything other than milk produced by his mama. A mother dog's breast milk meets all of a puppy's dietary demands, so other types of sustenance and nourishment are completely inappropriate and futile.

Puppy Food

The ASPCA recommends starting puppies on eating puppy food right as they're ready for weaning -- think approximately 3 to 4 weeks old. It is important to feed young canines only puppy-specific meals. After all, the little guys' bodies crave energy, and lots of it -- much more so than full-grown dogs. Wet and dry foods that are marked as exclusively for puppy consumption generally contain much higher amounts of protein, a dietary must for healthy growth and development.

Start out getting your puppies accustomed to dry food by blending it in thoroughly with some warm water. This adds moisture, which makes it much easier for the little ones to chew and digest. If you choose, you can also mix in commercial puppy-specific milk replacer instead of water.

Adult Food

If you're unsure as to when your puppy may be ready to eat like a big boy, the Coastal Humane Society recommends consulting your veterinarian for advice regarding your individual pup. Different dog breeds grow at totally different rates, and some reach their full size faster than others, especially the small ones.