As a new puppy owner, you’re probably wondering when is the best time to start feeding dry food to your puppy. While soaking food in water can make it more palatable and easier for your puppy to eat, doing it for too long can cause your pup to become a picky eater!
So, when can puppies eat dry food without water? Most puppies can start eating dry food without water when they are eight weeks old. At this point, most puppies have a full set of their baby teeth and can eat solid food safely. Having said that, large breeds may get their full set of baby teeth and start eating kibble sooner than small breeds.
While dry kibble is a more convenient and economical way of feeding your puppy, let’s not forget about wet food! Puppies can eat both dry kibble or canned food, but it’s up to you to decide what type of food is the best for your pooch.
In the meantime, keep on reading to find out when to stop adding water to your puppy’s kibble and how to transition your puppy to dry food.
When to Add Water to A Puppy’s Dry Food?
When puppies are born, their first instinct is to suckle their food. Since they don’t have any teeth at this point, the only way they can eat is by suckling milk from their mother’s teat.
When puppies reach four weeks of age, their mother’s milk doesn’t have the necessary nutrients for them to continue growing and developing. That’s why around the third or fourth week, the weaning process begins (source). This means that it’s time to introduce your pooch to normal dog food.
However, since their baby teeth haven’t erupted yet, puppies can’t eat dry puppy food immediately. To make the dry food more appealing and enticing to your puppy you’ll need to start adding warm water to it.
When soaked in water, kibble gets a mushy texture and can easily be eaten by young puppies. Your pup may not like the food from the get-go, but after a few tries, they will start to rely more on you to provide food and regular meals.
When to Stop Adding Water to A Puppy’s Dry Food?
Ideally, you should stop adding water to dry food when your puppy is eight weeks old. While there is no harm if you continue soaking your puppy’s kibble, you may inadvertently encourage picky eating habits.
Puppies that continue eating mushy food well after this period are more likely to become picky eaters when they grow up. They may also refuse to eat anything that doesn’t have a gooey texture.
The biggest danger of adding water to a puppy’s dry food, however, comes from the actual soaking process. Soak the dry dog food for 10 to 15 minutes or half an hour tops or you risk fermenting the food and making it inedible.
Soaked dry dog food also has a higher chance of spoilage when left in the open and it attracts flies that can contaminate it with all sorts of parasites and bacteria.
When properly prepared, soaked food is completely safe for puppies to eat. But if you don’t plan on feeding mushy kibble for the rest of your dog’s life, start transitioning them to dry puppy food when they turn eight weeks old.
Dietary Needs of Your Puppy
Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult and senior dogs. Since their bodies are still growing and developing, puppies need more calories, protein, and fat from their diet to stay healthy and thrive.
Puppy foods also contain different micro-nutrients including DHA, a type of omega 3 fatty acid that supports visual performance and brain development. Furthermore, puppy foods have a calcium to phosphorus ratio between 1.2:1 and 1.4:1 which is especially important for large breed puppies and the growth of their bones (source).
Wet VS Dry Food for Puppies
In the case of wet vs dry puppy food, there is still no clear winner. Both types of food have their advantages and downsides, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide which one is better for your puppy.
Instead of just picking one over the other, check out the pros and cons of both kibble and canned puppy foods:
Pros of Dry Puppy Food
- Economical choice (cost less than wet food)
- Easy to store (no refrigeration required)
- Supports dental health by scrubbing plaque and tartar from the teeth
- Can be left outside in a bowl all day without risking spoilage
- Many different options available for different breeds and life stages
Cons of Dry Puppy Food
- Low in moisture
- More likely to contain preservatives
- Lower palatability
- It may be hard for puppies with still emerging teeth to chew
Pros of Wet Puppy Food
- An enticing flavor that’s appealing to most dogs, including picky eaters
- It’s easier to digest
- High moisture content can keep puppies hydrated
- Contains more protein and fat
- Has a soft texture and is easier to eat
Cons of Wet Puppy Food
- Doesn’t help clean a dog’s teeth
- High risk of spoilage if left in the open in a dog’s bowl
- Costs significantly more than kibble
- Storage might be problematic as opened cans must be refrigerated
How Do I Transition My Puppy to Kibble?
The best way to transition your puppy from soaked kibble to dry kibble is to do it slowly. Start by feeding soaked kibble, and gradually reduce the amount of water mixed in it.
Ideally, you reduce the water content by 10% every two to three days to give your puppy time to adjust to the new texture. This way the switch from gooey to dry food won’t be sudden.
Over the next four weeks, slowly reduce the amount of water until your puppy is eating plain old dry kibble.
If you notice that your puppy is avoiding their food, you can mix a small amount of water or wet puppy food to make kibble more palatable.
Most puppies can safely transition to dry food when they are eight weeks old. Having said that, some puppies may start eating dry kibble sooner or later, it actually depends on when they get a full set of baby teeth.
Whatever may be the case with your puppy, it’s important to transition them to dry kibble as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up fussing over a picky eater!