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Your Guide To The Puppy Diet

Written by FOTP Team

Last updated

puppy chewing on rope

Puppy Diet: When Can Dogs Start Eating Air-Dried Food?

Understanding the ingredients for the best puppy diet will help your new pet grow into a healthy, energetic adult dog. Here are important points to know when you embark on your puppy's food journey for the first year. 

What Is a Proper Puppy Diet?

In the first month after birth, puppies only need their mother's milk or puppy milk replacer to meet their nutritional needs. At this point, they would not be able to eat solid foods since their teeth have not erupted. You can begin to introduce solids around three to four weeks when your puppy's teeth begin to grow. At this stage, their mother's milk starts to become less adequate for their nutritional needs. 

The proper puppy diet quickly changes during the first six months because of their rapid growth and developmental changes. It’s important to feed young dogs with food formulated specifically for puppies. Puppy food should contain the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid. DHA is essential for the growth of the brain and eyes. 

How Can You Transition Your Puppy's Diet to Solid Food?

At four weeks, start to separate your puppy from its mother two to three times daily to introduce solid foods. Each mealtime can proceed as follows: 

  1. Make a soft solid food blend: Mix about two cups of puppy food with one cup of mother's milk or puppy milk replacement and two cups of water. Place in a shallow dish. 
  2. Gently serve the food blend to your puppy. Place your pup in front of the shallow dish. If they show no enthusiasm for the soft solids, dip your finger in the liquid and swipe some on their mouth. 
  3. Bring your puppy back to its mother and allow her to lick her baby clean. 

At the beginning of solid food introduction, start small. Only about 10% of your puppy's meals should consist of solid foods. Each week, gradually increase the amount of solid food and decrease the amount of liquid inside your food blend. Your goal is for your pet to be eating 100% solids by week eight. 

How Do You Optimize a Puppy Diet?

When your puppy becomes comfortable with eating solid foods for each meal, they’ll become more excited to try new foods. With so many dog food brands available, choosing the best one can be challenging. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Select foods approved by the American Association of Feed Control Officials. The AAFCO specifies which dog foods meet minimum nutrition requirements. 
  • Choose organic foods approved by the National Organic Program. NOP-certified puppy chow is not exposed to synthetic fertilizers, sewage, or genetic engineering. 
  • Always read the nutrition label. Meat should be the first ingredient listed, rather than grains. 
  • Schedule a consultation with your veterinarian. They can make recommendations specific to your animal's needs.
  • Choose air-dried dog food. Most kibble is subject to harsh heat and high pressure that can degrade the essential nutrients. Air-dried food retains the most nutrients, ensuring your puppy eats a fulfilling diet.