What Do You Start Feeding to Puppies & When?

Updated March 23, 2017

Newborn puppies should be allowed to nurse on their mother as much as possible, especially during the first 24 hours of life. Mother's milk has everything a puppy needs for growth, and in the wild puppies often nurse for several months. Domestic dogs usually go to their new homes at eight weeks of age, however, so weaning occurs earlier for those puppies.

Bottle or Tube Feeding

Occasionally you will need to feed your puppies with a bottle or feeding tube. Use a quality puppy milk replacer, and feed every two hours for the first three days of life. Decrease to every three hours for the first week, and every four hours the second week.

Introducing Solid Food

You can start introducing your puppies to solid food at three to four weeks of age. They will still be nursing at this point. Feed four times per day, gradually increasing the amount of food while the puppies decrease the time they spend nursing. Puppies should be fully weaned by about seven weeks old.

Three to Four Weeks Old

Start with a thin gruel made of puppy formula and baby rice cereal. You can use puppy kibble, ground to a powder, in place of the cereal. Gradually increase the thickness of the gruel as the pups adjust to the new food.

Four to Six Weeks Old

If you started with rice cereal, slowly transition to puppy kibble during this period. Add a few thoroughly-soaked kibbles to the food each day; they should be just barely holding their shape. By the end of these two weeks the puppies will be eating soaked whole kibbles only.

Six to Eight Weeks Old

Decrease the soaking time of the kibbles, so that by eight weeks of age when they go to their new homes, the puppies are accustomed to eating dry kibble. You can also decrease the number of meals they get to three per day.

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