When do puppies start eating food and drinking water? Or simply, when is the best time to start weaning a puppy? In this article, I will try and explain when is the right time to start weaning your newborn puppy.
Maybe your dog has recently had a litter of puppies and you are anxious about raising the newborn puppies, or you are raising an orphaned puppy and wondering when do puppies start eating food and drinking water? Or you just want to know how to wean your puppy.
Well, you are in the right place to learn when do puppies start eating food and drinking water and how to introduce food and water to a newborn puppy.
When Do Puppies Start Eating Food And Drinking Water?
Caring for a newborn puppy can be difficult and overwhelming, nevertheless, it’s fulfilling to see a once fragile newborn puppy grow into a healthy independent dog.
Just like newborn children, newborn puppies depend exclusively on their mother’s milk to provide them with all their nutritional needs.
Mother’s first milk has colostrum which contains all the necessary nutrients required by a puppy. It also contains important antibodies that protect newborn puppies from diseases as their body’s immune systems continue to develop.
In cases where a puppy is orphaned, a special puppy milk formula is provided to substitute their mother’s natural milk. This formula has been prepared to simulate most of the nutrients that are found in a mother’s milk.
It is obvious that as time progresses, mother’s milk will no longer be enough to support the growth of your puppy and it reaches a time you will need to introduce food and water. By now you must be questioning when do puppies start eating food and drinking water?
When Is The Right Time For Puppies To Start Eating Food And Drinking Water?
When to introduce your puppies to water or food is 3 to 4 weeks after birth. At least by this time, your puppy’s digestive system is fully developed and his body has acquired some immune system.
Even though food is necessary for the growth of your puppy, you should know when do puppies start eating food and drinking water, so that you may not make your puppy sick.
Introducing water and food earlier can be harmful to your puppy because his/her digestive system is not fully matured. Besides, if you delay introducing your puppy to food and water at the right time, then you risk having an undernourished puppy.
So it is important to recognize, when do puppies start eating food and drinking water? And whether a newborn puppy can drink water? And whether puppies should drink milk or water?
As mentioned earlier, puppies rely exclusively on their mother’s milk or puppy milk formula during the first 3 to 4 weeks of their lives. During this time, nothing else should be given to the puppy that is not their mother’s milk or strictly puppy milk formula.
Do not use baby milk formula or cow’s milk to feed an orphaned newborn puppy because it lacks important nutrients for your puppy and may also cause a stomach upset for your little one.
Afterward, when their digestive system is ready, you can start introducing water and progressively adding puppy food to their diet.
So, now you know that at 3 to 4 weeks is when puppies start eating food and drinking water.
How To Wean Your Puppy?
You should not struggle much on how to introduce your puppies to drinking water and eating food because a mother dog has an instinct of when to wean her puppies. Your responsibility as a dog owner is to know when to start giving water and food to your puppies.
While nature will take its course in terms of a mother dog weaning his puppies, you can help in the process to ensure that your puppies get the required nutrients and grow to be independent puppies.
For orphaned puppies, once the deciduous teeth begin to erupt at around 3 to 4 weeks you may start weaning them.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, weaning of puppies can start when they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
Remember when puppies start eating food and drinking water, you don’t start introducing any puppy food at once, however you start with water, then liquid food supplements, and gradually to soft food and later dry food. This is because your puppy is starting to learn how to eat and digest food, and therefore, dry puppy food may choke your puppy or cause a stomach upset.
Additionally, your puppy digestive system is still trying to get used to moving and digesting food, and therefore it may be easily blocked by large food particles or may be unable to digest solid food.
So, it’s essential to start weaning your puppy by giving water only, then progressively introduce lighter/softer food until he can take solid foods.
When Do Puppies Start Drinking Water?
Your problem now maybe, can newborn puppies drink water? Can a 2 weeks old puppy drink water? Can a 3 weeks old puppy drink water? Can a 4 weeks old puppy drink water? Can a one-month-old puppy drink water? And when it is time to introduce water to puppies, how will I get my puppies to drink water?
At 2 to 3 weeks, puppies do not need water because they still get enough water from their mother’s milk or the milk formula. As long as puppies remain exclusively breastfed, they are adequately hydrated.
From the 4th week, you can start giving your puppies water. Water keeps your puppy hydrated and is important in facilitating all metabolic processes, such as digestion, blood flow, and brain activities in a puppy’s body.
Once other food supplements are introduced to their diet, they will need supplementary water to facilitate digestion.
How To Introduce Puppies To Drinking Water?
This is how to introduce your puppies to drinking water
- First separate the puppies from their mother. This will help in training the little ones to be independent and learn to fend for themselves.
- Then have your clean water ready in a clean, shallow bowl. It’s important to ensure that the water is clean to prevent your puppies from getting digestive tract infections.
- Dip your puppy’s mouth into the water. This will encourage your puppy to lick the water on his mouth and hence continue licking water in the bowl.
- Once they are satisfied with water, reunite them with their mother and offer the remaining water to their mother. When they see their mother gulping water they will be encouraged to also continue drinking water hence learn how to drink water in a bowl.
Remember patience is key when puppies start eating food and drinking water. Since they are used to sucking milk only, they will need time to learn how to take water and food from the bowl. Furthermore, they may need more time to get used to the strange taste of water and food.
When Do Puppies Start Eating Puppy Food?
Once your puppies have known how to lick water in the bowl, they are now ready to have some molten food.
At around 5 weeks, your puppy is ready to start eating food. More water will be required to aid the digestion process and prevent your puppy from constipation.
Therefore you will need to have a puppy water schedule to ensure that your puppy is properly hydrated.
According to American Kennel Club, young puppies require a one-half cup of water every two hours. Older puppies require about one cup of water per pound of their body mass per day. However, other puppies may take more or less water depending on how active they are during the day.
Water helps food move easily in the digestive tract and also aids the absorption of nutrients in the stomach.
As time progresses you will need to have a puppy eating schedule, in order to ensure that your puppies are well fed. This is because puppies will require more food to meet their nutritional needs as they grow.
How To Introduce Puppies To Eating Puppy Food?
Now that your puppy is used to drinking water in a bowl, you will have to soak puppy food with puppy milk or water to make it soft for your puppy to lick as he learns to eat molten food.
Remember at 5 weeks your puppies may not have grown all their teeth, therefore they may not be able to chew large junks of food.
Have your soaked or mashed puppy food in a clean, shallow bowl. Offer the food to your puppies in absence of their mother.
By now your puppies should have known how to lick the food from the bowl and therefore, once they see a bowl they will start licking whatever is in.
If they are not immediately attracted by the food in the bowl, dip their mouths into the bowl. This should encourage them to indulge in the food. Let them lick the food to their satisfaction and offer them water afterward.
When puppies start eating food and drinking water, it’s important to always separate them from their mother before the feeding time so that by the time they are given their food they will be hungry.
After 8 to 10 weeks a puppy is fully weaned and no longer depends on its mother. You will also realize that the mother’s milk supply has reduced or dried up. This is the natural way of knowing that the puppy is fully independent.
I hope by now you understand when do puppies start eating food and drinking water and you can wean your puppy easily.
Final Verdict – When Do Puppies Start Eating Food And Drinking Water
Raising a newborn puppy can be interesting but at the same time overwhelming. It takes some time and responsibility to raise a healthy, and happy puppy even if your puppy has a mother. Most newborn puppy owners wonder when is the best time for puppies to start eating food and drinking water.
It is evident that as puppies mature, they will need food to support their growth, so, it is important to know whether newborn puppies can drink water, when do puppies start eating food and drinking water, and how to introduce puppies to drinking water and eating food.
For puppies with their mothers weaning process comes naturally, however you should be able to provide additional food because your puppies require more food to satisfy their nutritional needs.
The weaning process can take up to one month. After the weaning period, that is when your puppy is 8 to 10 weeks, your puppy is fully weaned off his mother’s milk therefore he is ready to eat dry puppy food on his own.
Be careful to monitor your puppies’ health progress by taking records of their weight regularly.
If you notice any loss of weight or stagnation in gaining weight, then make an appointment with your vet immediately.
Loss of weight or stagnation in gaining weight can be a sign of an inadequate supply of nutrients from your puppy’s diet and therefore you need to change his/her diet. Sometimes loss of weight may be a symptom of a serious underlying health condition.
I hope this article has answered your questions on when do puppies start eating food and drinking water, how to introduce puppies to drinking water, and can a newborn puppy drink water?
Good luck raising your puppy to be an independent dog. Leave your thoughts below if you’re excited about a newborn puppy and thrilled about caring them the right way and if you have any questions.
Other Feeding and Growth Chart that could be helpful