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When Can Puppies Eat Hard Food? Guide to Wet and Dry Food

Puppies can eat hard food combined with water or milk replacer at three to four weeks old. Puppies should eat softened solid food three times a day during weaning and four to six months after weaning.

Weaning puppies (the transition from milk to solid food) should take place between after three to five weeks and is complete at approximately six weeks. 

When puppies are getting weaned, they are no longer getting all the nutrients they need from milk. 

They need a mushy texture of dry food combined with water to be added to their diet to give them more nutrients.

When Can Puppies Eat Dog Food?

Puppies can eat dog food for puppies when they are eight weeks old. They should not eat food for adult dogs until they are at least one year old. 

Puppies should not eat food for adult dogs because it robs them of the nutrients they need to grow. Growing dogs need to be on a puppy diet until they are at least one year old.[1]

Puppy food is high in proteins to support their growing bodies. It also has fats and carbohydrates to give puppies energy, calcium for strong teeth and bones, and ADH for brain and eyesight development.

Your puppy should eat puppy food for as long as they are developing.[2]

6 to 12 Weeks

Your puppy should only be eating puppy food. They should be fed a minimum of four times a day. Larger breeds may need nine feedings with more parts of dry food to give them those extra nutrients they need.

3 to 6 Months

During this period, you can decrease the feeding frequency from four to three. It is healthy for a pup to lose weight and shed its potbelly. It is important to feed the puppy-right proportions so that they can settle into a healthy weight.

6 to12 Months

You can decrease the feedings to twice daily. You can then switch from puppy food to adult food. A smaller dog may make the switch at seven to nine months while a bigger dog may only switch at 12 to 14 months. 

It is better for your dog to stay longer on puppy food than necessary than for them to switch to adult food prematurely.

When Can Puppies Eat Dog Food

At What Age Can Puppies Eat Dry Food Without Water?

Puppies should be able to eat dry food without water from eight to ten weeks old when they are fully weaned. The puppy should no longer be nursing but only be eating puppy food.

At this point, the puppy has developed a full set of teeth and can chew food without liquid. The time can differ from dog to dog. Some puppies can only switch to hard food at nine weeks.

The benefits of dry food for puppies include

  • Higher nutritional content in a smaller serving.
  • Glucosamine supports the development of teeth and bones.
  • Puppies have healthy gums and less plaque.
  • Digestible ingredients that are easily absorbed in a puppy’s body.
  • Less risk of bacteria.
  • Easy storage and less risk of spoiling.

When Can Puppies Eat Wet Food?

Puppies can eat wet dog food at eight weeks. Their teeth are still soft so wet food is easier to chew. Wet food can be the perfect food for them during the transition from milk to dry food

Wet food is just as good as dry food. The only difference is their water content. Wet food contains 60 to 84% water and is usually canned while dry food contains 3 to 12% and comes in cardboard boxes or paper bags.

Wet food has the following benefits:

  • Puppies stay hydrated because of its high moisture content.
  • It has fewer calories and puppies can eat multiple servings with no risk of obesity.
  • The meaty flavors and the smell can appeal to a puppy that is a picky eater.
  • It is soft and easy to chew for puppies with developing teeth.
When Can Puppies Eat Wet Food

How To Get Your Puppy To Eat Dry Food?

To get your puppy to eat dry food you can start when they are four weeks old. Make your puppy’s food mushy by mixing a small amount of kibble or wet dog food with water and milk replacement.

From four to six weeks, reduce the water or milk replacer gradually till they are eating dry solids at eight to ten weeks.

How Much Dry Food Should You Feed Your Puppy?

Puppy Weight (kg) 1 – 2 Months 2 – 4 Months 4 – 6 Months 6 – 8 months
0.5 25g 50g 55g 50g
1 35g 70g 65g 60g
2 55g 90g 80g 80g
3 75g 100g 100g 100g
4 85g 110g 110g 110g
5 95g 120g 135g 135g
6 105g 140g 145g 145g
7 125g 150g 165g 150g
8 135g 160g 175g 160g

When Can Puppies Eat Kibble?

Puppies who are still weaning can eat kibble but it must be softened with water or broth to make it a soup-like texture. Once they are past the eight-week mark they can start eating kibble without any moisture added to it.

Make sure that you are feeding your puppy a type of Kibble that has a source of protein, such as chicken or lamb.

When Can Puppies Eat Kibble

Moving Your Puppy From Eating Wet Food Only To Dry Food

To transition your puppy gently from wet to dry food, you can change the ratio of water to dry ingredients gradually each week for the first four weeks.

  • Week 1: Mix three parts liquid with one part dry food.
  • Week 2: Mix two parts liquid with two parts dry food.
  • Week 3: Mix one part of liquid with three parts of dry food,
  • Week 4: The puppy should be able to eat completely dry food.

How To Feed Your Puppy Wet And Dry Food As They Grow

Age Times Per Day Dry Food (cups) Canned Wet Food (ounces)
2 – 3 months 4 1/4 85
3 – 6 months  3 1/3 4
6 – 12 months 2 3/4 9

What To Do When Your Puppy Won’t Eat Dry Food?

If your puppy won’t eat dry food you should get them the best quality of dry food with mixed ingredients. You can mix meat from canned wet food and mince it into the dry food. 

You can reduce the amount of meat and feed them more dry food each week. Your puppy will get used to the taste of dry food. 

They rely on you to feed them nutritional food just as they depend on you to know when to stop eating.

What To Do When Your Puppy Won’t Eat Dry Food

Reasons Why Puppies Won’t Eat Dry Food

1. Underdeveloped teeth

Dry food can be hard on the developing mouth of a puppy because it takes more effort to chew and swallow. If the food is too difficult to chew because of being low in moisture, your puppy won’t eat it.

2. Nausea

Your puppy may have an upset stomach, causing them to resist dry food. You can treat this with safe home remedies[3]  and put water into your puppy’s dry food.

3. Dehydration

This is common in puppies. Your puppy may be losing more water than they are taking in and are operating at a lower capacity. You can mix in more water into your puppy’s food or revert to feeding them wet food until they are properly hydrated.

When Can Puppies Eat Raw Food?

Puppies can have commercial raw food when they are eight weeks old. Natural foods can be a good choice for puppies as they have more digestible protein and essential oils. 

Raw food is packed with healthy bacteria that support a puppy’s digestive system and help them produce low odor stools. 

If your puppy has been eating processed dry food, you should introduce raw food gradually over 1-6 weeks.

You can start with ¼ of raw food to ¾ of dry food. Monitor their stools. If they have no diarrhea, carry on decreasing the amount of processed dry food. If your puppy has diarrhea it is a sign that your puppy’s stomach is not strong enough yet to digest raw food.

Conclusion

It is important to keep puppies on diets that meet their growth requirements to prevent nutritional deficiencies and diseases. Protein is important to support the growth of strong bones and joints. This also reduces the risk of hip dysplasia and other orthopedic problems.

While a diet of dry food and water is good for your puppy because it is meat-based, it can also benefit your puppy to add some fruit and vegetables to their dry food.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.