Ask The Vet: At What Age Puppies Eat Dry Kibble
Knowing at what age puppies eat dry kibble is important for breeders, considering that, puppies can’t just go directly from milk to dry food all of a sudden. The process is rather gradual instead and requires careful monitoring to ensure puppies are eating and the weaning process is going smoothly.
If you are wondering at what age puppies eat dry kibble, most likely you have bottle-fed puppies and are wondering when they can be switched to kibble. Or perhaps, you have mother dog who is starting to resent having her pups with sharp teeth nursing and you can’t wait to get them used to relying less on her milk. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares information about when puppies can eat dry food.
How To Soak Dry Food For Puppies
As puppies from the age of 3-4 weeks will be transitioning to soaked dry puppy foods, they are still very tiny at this point so make sure the food is accessible, without them having to climb over high rimmed bowls. Many puppy owners use a flat surface or plate to place the dry food on, pour warm water over it and soak for 10-15 minutes. Give it a quick mix, check the temperature is okay then place on the floor for the puppy to access.
How To Get Your Puppy To Start Eating Soaked Dog Food
When your puppy is about four weeks old, start introducing them to kibble. Your pup is still going through the weaning process, so pay attention to the foods consistency. You want the food soft enough for a puppy to easily lap it up.
Always choose dog food designed specifically for puppies. Your pet is not ready for adult kibble, even after soaking it in water. The nutrients differ in puppy and adult dog food. Puppy food also uses smaller pieces of kibble, making it easier to soften and mash.
Not all puppy food brands contain the same ingredients, so youll want to pay attention to what is listed on the label. To avoid triggering food allergies, look for grain-free puppy food with only a few ingredients the first one should always be some type of meat.
Its also a good idea to stick with one brand, once you find one your pup seems to enjoy. Its easier on their developing digestive system to get familiar with one type, rather than switching every week.
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Dry Food Is More Energy
Dogs nutrition needs vary greatly depending on their breed, age, and activity level. Some breeds need more protein than others. Young puppies, for example, should eat a higher protein food to build muscle. Dogs with older teeth, on the other hand, should eat less protein-rich dry food. The following table compares the nutritional values of dry and wet food for puppies.
While wet food contains fewer calories per unit volume, it is better for overweight pets as it makes them feel full longer. Because it contains more water, wet food may help your pet avoid getting dehydrated. Wet food is also more difficult to store. It also promotes dental disease. This is why many breeds prefer dry food. But wet food has disadvantages, too.
The Best Diy Dog Food With Turkey And Veggies
Ever since we published our first Easy Homemade Dog Food Recipe we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have told us that they have already made the leap and are preparing fresh meals for their pups at home! Ditching processed kibble once and for all is one of the best things you can do for your dog. We learned this ourselves this last year after our 11-year old dog had an incredibly positive change to his health once we moved to a healthy dog food! Recently, I developed a new 100% human grade homemade dog food recipe that utilizes some of the best fall produce for your dog like sweet potatoes, cranberries, rosemary, and sage! Our dogs love it so much I decided to share it here too so you and your pup can celebrate the best the season has to offer.
***Please note, I am not a veterinarian, just a very passionate dog owner! The information in this blog post documents our own personal experiences, research, and the recipes that we feed our dogs under our veterinarians careful supervision. Please, consult with your vet and use your own personal judgment when considering transitioning to a 100% human grade food diet for your pup.*** Updated with video 9/4/2021
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Why Shouldnt You Keep Adding Water To Their Dry Food
While there is no initial harm if you continue to add water to your puppys food, your dog could develop picky eating habits. Some dogs may never grow out of wanting soggy dog food because of the more enticing flavor the soggy food offers. Because of this, it may be harder to feed your dog if they refuse to eat anything but the soggy food.
More so, the danger in soaking dry food comes from the actual soaking process. We recommend soaking dry food for a half hour maximum, or you risk fermenting the dog food and making it inedible. The soaked food also has a higher tendency to attract flies, especially when not checked properly. So really, the main danger in soaking wet food is if the food is not properly prepared, otherwise the food is fine for consumption.
Also, it takes time to prepare your puppys food this way, so the sooner you can get him onto dry food the better for you.
Is Wet Food Bad For Puppies
Canned food is more expensive per energy calorie than kibble due to the high water content and the packaging. Another disadvantage to canned dog food is that for some dogs, canned food may contribute to periodontal disease. One option for feeding dogs is to use a combination of dry and canned food each day.
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Is The Puppy Old Enough To Eat Dry Food
Puppies should be fully weaned at around 6 to 8 weeks of age. For the first few weeks, the puppy will not be excited about dry food, but he will start to bite solid foods with time. If the puppy is younger than that age, he is too young to eat dry food and meals. Most often, puppies are taken when they are 6 to 8 weeks of age after weaning.
Helps Overweight Dogs Lose Weight
Adding water to your dogs kibble can help your dog lose weight. Obesity can cause severe problems for a dog, so if you want your furry best friend to live their best life, you need to keep them at a healthy weight.
Adding water to a dogs dry kibble introduces more water into their diet. This, in turn, helps the dog feel fuller quicker and stop eating. When your dog eats less, your dog takes in fewer calories and should slowly start losing weight as a result.
This is a simple way to put your dog on a diet without them actually feeling like theyre on a diet.
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The Benefits Of Feeding Premium Food
Why move your grown-up pup to a premium adult dog food? Because quality counts. Itâs crucial to continue his superb puppy nutrition into adulthood. Downgrading to a lower-quality brand at this stage of his life may upset his digestive system, and wonât provide him with the same level of nutritional excellence he was raised on.
Think of a baby. When itâs time to start giving him solid food, you wouldnât dream of feeding your child anything less than the best nutrition you can buy. The same is true for your maturing puppy. He needs the best age-appropriate food there is to help maintain his overall health.
Premium foods, such as IAMS, are specifically designed to provide your dog with a food that has:
- High-quality ingredients
- Balanced, optimal levels of protein, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals
- A nutrient-dense formulation appropriate for a particular life stage
- Consistent, high-quality, natural-ingredient recipes that do not change because of manufacturing costs
- Specific fatty-acid balance to help maintain healthy skin and coat
- Great palatability and taste, based on feeding trials
- Met or exceeded the Association of American Feed Control Officials guidelines
- Product guarantees
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Small To Medium Breeds
For many small to medium-sized dogs, the rule of thumb is your dog will be cutting back on calories sometime in the 5- to 7-month range. At 12 months, you may notice your pups calorie needs have scaled back again. At that point, when theyve reached full size, that puppy is ready to make the switch from a puppy formula to an adult formula.
If youre feeding an all life stage food as opposed to an adult-specific food, you can safely switch a small to medium sized dog at any point.
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How Much Wet Food Should A Puppy Eat In A Day
The amount of food your puppy needs depend on its body weight. In general, a puppy needs to eat 3 ounces of wet food for every 3.5 lbs. of body weight each day.
This amount is on a sliding scale, depending on your dogs health and the amount of treats your pup gets in a day.
Also, the entire serving of wet food should be divided into four to five meals. Once your puppy reaches a year old, you can reduce start feeding twice a day.
Can I Feed My Puppy Just Dry Food
Dogs seem to like dry dog food, and most live happy, healthy lives on almost any brand of dry dog food. Fortunately for pet owners, dogs are just fine eating dry dog food. While many pets prefer wet dog food, because it is more palatable, that doesnt mean that dry food isnt a healthy option for dogs.
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How Much Does Kibble Expand
The degree to which kibble expands varies with the kind of kibble and the situation thats being compared. Kibble may not expand the same in a glass of water as it does in your dogs stomach.
While its true that dry dog food does not have a high moisture content, that doesnt mean its going to expand so much in your dogs stomach that it will cause problems.
Even studies that have looked at risk factors of bloat, a serious and sometimes deadly condition where the dogs stomach twists and fills with air, have found no difference in the likelihood of bloat when dogs are fed canned food VS dry food. Both types of food appear to exit the stomach in the same amount of time.
Kibble may appear to expand quite a bit when allowed to soak in water for a long time. It might seem like its going to expand so much in your dogs stomach that itll be a recipe for disaster!
However, its important to remember that the stomach is very good at regulating how much water is necessary for digestion. Your dogs stomach is not an endless source of hydration for kibble.
Stomachs are also made to stretch! The average human stomach only has a capacity for 2.5 ounces when empty, expanding to an entire quart when you eat food.
The digestive tract is also working to break down food into tiny molecules and distribute them throughout the body. Food doesnt usually remain in a dogs stomach longer than 8 hours .
Why Add Water To Kibble
Now that weve debunked a few reasons why people often add water to their puppys kibble, its time to look at a few reasons why you might want to mix their kibble with water. You do not have to add water to kibble unless told to do so by your dogs veterinarian but there are a few reasons to consider it anyways.
For some dogs, adding warm water to their kibble can help encourage them to eat. If your dog is turning their nose up at food, adding warm water can entice them to eat because it brings out the scent of the kibble.
Deborah Linder, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, notes that adding broth to your puppys food can also be a great way to help them feel more full without the addition of many calories. It also can be helpful for the rare dog that requires more moisture in their diet and doesnt naturally regulate their water intake.
It can also just be a fun way to mix up your dogs food, or a way to help them slow down as they eat.
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How Can You Help Transition Your Puppys Dietary Needs
Puppies should be introduced to soaked dry food when they are about 4 weeks of age. This gives mom a break from her pups and helps them become independent. The soaked dry food needs to resemble an oatmeal-like texture so it can be easily lapped up by the still learning puppies.
When picking the dry food, make sure you purchase food for puppy specific diets. These puppy foods are made with the nutrients and calories growing puppies need, which adult dog foods do not offer. Plus, the puppy foods often have smaller kibble sizes so it is easier for the puppies to eat.
Dog Food Brands to Consider:
These listed brands are amongst the healthiest for puppies and dogs because they are grain free and contain limited ingredients to avoid food allergens. The majority of these foods have puppy formulas, but also have formulas that work for all life stages. Transitioning to adult dog food will be easier, and less of a strain on the puppies stomachs, if the food is kept within the same brand.
We recommend that whatever brand you choose to go with, always read the ingredient lists. If the first ingredient is grain or corn, then the food has little nutrients and is more a filler type of food. If the first ingredient is a type of meat, then you know you are providing the best nutrients for your growing puppy or dog.
At What Age Should You Stop Soaking Puppy Food
To be honest, you dont have to stop soaking their food. Adding back moisture to dry kibble can be beneficial, especially for breeds prone to urinary and kidney issues, older dogs, or dogs that dont drink enough to stay hydrated naturally.
It can also be smart in hot summers when theres a greater need for hydration. Just remember to dispose of any leftovers quickly, so it doesnt attract bugs, ferment, or get bacteria like salmonella. Two hours is about the max, which can be shorter in hotter weather.
Luckily most dogs belong to the clean plate club, so this shouldnt be an issue. For this same reason, you should store your dogs food in a pet-proof and moisture-proof container rather than the original bag, to ensure it doesnt accidentally get damp and moldy.
Remember that the meat from a kill would naturally provide a dog with a lot of moisture, naturally, that they dont get from dry kibble. This is why ensuring a clean, safe water source at feeding time is important, too.
While most dogs will naturally regulate their water intake throughout the day, some dogs dont, and others may need extra hydration due to kidney issues. It depends on the individual dog, and you will learn to read your dogs personality and health with time.
Theres no digestive benefit to soaking kibble once puppies are old enough to manage solid food, as food digests in stomach acid, not water. So it wont help much with gassy dogs, unfortunately!
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When Is The Right Time To Switch To Adult Dog Food
Determining when to make the switch from puppy to adult dog food depends on your puppys size and breed, as well as his metabolism. Simply put, small and large breed puppies develop at different rates, meaning that some dogs will make the switch to adult food at different life stages. At Bil-Jac, we agree with our friends at VetInfo.com and recommend the following guidelines:
- Smaller breeds mature more quickly and can be switched at about 9 months to 1 year
- Medium breeds can be switched at around 1 year of age
- Large and giant breed dogs can transition anywhere from 1 year to 18 months
Of course, one to two years is quite a wide range of time. Every dog is different, so keep an eye on how much food your dog eats. Skipping meals or leaving some food behind is one notable sign that your furry friend is ready for a switch. If you notice that your best friend is regularly leaving some of her puppy food behind in the bowl, its probably time to make the jump to an adult formula.
Your dogs body condition can also help you figure out when its time to switch to adult food. Since puppy formulas are designed to support rapid growth, once a puppy is first weaned, splitting up meals info three feeding a day si recommended.
Good For Puppies Being Weaned
A weaning puppy is a puppy thats moving from drinking its mothers milk to eating solid food. A puppy starts weaning naturally when its about 3-4 weeks old. Soaking kibble for weaning puppies can make this transition easier for the puppy.
Trying to transition puppies directly from their mothers milk to dry kibble is a hard transition to make: Dry kibble can be hard for a puppy to eat, and its tough on their tiny tummies.
If you go straight from one to the other, youll probably be dealing with some nasty tummy issues for days.
Try soaking dry food to make the switch smoother. You can use this trick again when its time to move your puppy over to adult dog food.
Note: You may still see a few digestive issues, including diarrhea or constipation. One or two unusual bowel movements is nothing to fear when changing a dogs food. But if your puppy has more than that, starts throwing up, or becomes dehydrated, see a veterinarian immediately as these could be symptoms of a more serious problem.
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