If you have never had a litter of puppies to care for, sometimes it can be difficult to determine when they are ready to try something different than mother's milk. A proper diet is extremely important for puppies, especially larger breeds. Puppies that do not receive adequate nutrition can have bone and joint problems as they get older as well as other health issues. Keep in mind several steps when introducing puppies to dry food.
When Should They Start?
Puppies should start eating puppy mash (see below) at 3 to 4 weeks of age according to Dog Breed Info website. They should be eating only dry food at the end of 8 weeks. This is so their systems will be prepared when they go to new homes.
Pet Education website suggests this recipe for creating a mash that will transition puppies to solid food. Mix 2 cups of dry puppy food that is of good quality with 12.5 oz. liquid puppy milk substitute in blender. Fill the remaining space in the blender with warm water. Blend until it looks like baby food. Each week, more dry food should be added to the mix until the puppies are eating dry food.
Choosing the Right Puppy Food
A puppy will eat almost anything, so it is up to you to choose the best formula for his development. Cheaper dog food will contain more fillers and is more likely to cause allergies, especially to puppy tummies. If you have puppies of a specific breed, some foods will work better than others, especially if the breed is known to have digestive issues. Consult a vet or member of your local dog owners club for advice on the best choice.
Ingredients Puppy Food Should Contain
According to The Puppy Dog Place website, puppy food labels should state that the formula has been approved by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control) and will provide a complete and balanced diet for puppies specifically. The food should contain protein, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals.
How Much to Feed
The proper amount of food to serve your puppies will be different depending on the type of breed you own, how old they are, and what brand of food you are feeding them. A good rule of thumb is to consult the back of the bag of food and multiply the serving size by the number of puppies you are feeding.
How Often to Feed
Most litters of puppies should be fed five times per day with the puppy mash. Gradually reduce the feeding times to three times per day as they begin to eat more solid food. After 8 weeks, the puppies should be eating twice a day. Feed your puppies at the same time every day, this will help them establish a bathroom routine.