As a puppy owner, they’ll come a time when you may want to think about transitioning them over to dry food. But when should this be? How long should they be on wet food before it is safe or even preferable to switch? I spent some time researching the options; I’ll be sharing what I found here for you today.
So, when can puppies eat dry food without water? Puppies can generally move onto dry food at around the age of eight weeks. At this stage, puppies are weaned from their mothers and should have their full set of baby teeth. They should be able to consume dry food by this age. It should then take a month for puppies to fully transition onto a complete dry food diet. Reduce the water content by 10% every two to three days to allow your puppy to adjust to the new texture more readily.
Wet food certainly has its place in the diet of a dog, and there are certainly advantages to this kind of feed for them. But equally, there are advantages of dry food too.
We will be looking at these side by side a little later.
Either way, it is a daunting task trying to find what foods are acceptable for your puppy and what feeds to offer and to avoid.
Besides, no one single food is optimal for every dog. There are variances between dogs, even of the same breed.
Those factors which should influence a dogs diet include: the breed, age, size, weight, and of course – your dog’s personal preference.
If they do not eat what you put out regardless of how ‘healthy it is for them’ then you’ve got a problem!
Nevertheless; your puppy requires high-quality dog food to ensure that they grow and develop – reaching their full adult size potential.
Let us now take a closer look at wet and dry food in further detail. We’ll also cover those questions you may be having about both options and the transition you may need to make.
So, be sure to keep reading if you have recently taking in a young puppy and want to ensure you get their diet right, from the outset.
When Can Puppies Eat Dry Food?
Puppies can eat dry food when their full teeth come in. This is typically be the age of eight weeks, on average.
Although this will depend somewhat on the dog’s breed. Many large breeds are able to eat dry food a little earlier than eight weeks, whereas smaller breeds might need more time to adjust to the hard texture.
This is why you some special dry foods are designed with small breeds in mind.
Nonetheless and irregardless of breed, puppies should be introduced to dry food by four weeks of age; this allows the mother to have a break from her pups, and it encourages independence.
Soaked dry food should resemble an oatmeal texture to be easily consumed by puppies in training.
You should also consider that 8 weeks is around the age you will likely get your puppy as this is when breeders commonly make them available.
Its therefore important that you discuss the previous diet with your breeder, asking what your puppy was raised on and what they recommend that you feed.]
They may have already started the process of transition, or this may be something you need to take on yourself altogether.
Beyond this, you will need to ensure you get a high quality feed designed for puppies. These foods are developed with the calories and nutrients required for growth. They are also somewhat smaller in piece size, making it easier for your puppy to eat.
You should also look for a brand that contains limited additives, preservatives and any other ingredient that could cause potential problems and allergens.
For this reason, it is best to look for a grain-free option and be high in a good quality protein.
Any foods that list corn or grain as the first ingredient should generally be avoided; if at all possible. Meat and protein is preferable, and this will ensure your puppy obtains the building blocks they need for growth.
One of the best advantages of dry food is it keeps a dog’s teeth cleaner, and tartar doesn’t buildup.
Do You Need To Add Water To Dry Puppy Food?
You do not need to add water to dry dog food, although there are some reasons why you may want to do so.
Firstly, it can help your puppy to eat as it tastes better to them, secondly it smells more appealing to them as adding water releases the aromas in the food. Finally, it can increase your dogs hydration levels.
So if your puppy is not drinking enough water or they will simply not eat their dry food – this is an option to consider.
But, it is not always, nor is necessarily required. It depends on your puppy really. It will also change with time.
In the beginning, and when a puppy is new to dry food, it is generally a good idea to add a little water.
A newborn puppy’s first instinct is to suckle for food. They are actually raised on their mother’s milk (and entirely liquids) for the first month of life.
When puppies are four weeks old, their mother’s milk doesn’t contain enough nutrients for them to grow, and this is when they should begin transitioning to solid food.
This is when wet food is commonly introduced.
But, you should also encourage your puppy to try dry food too; they will not be as enthusiastic at first but adding some water can help.
You can soak some dry food in water; allowing it to be mashed into an easy to eat paste. This produces a natural, delicious smelling gravy that will certainly catch your puppy’s attention.
It will take time and practice before your puppy is ready to eat dry food without any water added. This is especially true if you rely too heavily on wet food early in life.
If you do need to add a little water here and then, then this can be beneficial. Just be sure to add less as time goes on.
Equally, you mustn’t soak the food for too long, or it risks being unappealing to your dog and can even become dangerous.
Anything beyond 30 minutes can cause the food to ferment, which can make your puppy sick.
Be sure always to add warm water to dry dog food, as cold food is not appetizing and your puppy will more likely leave it.
There isn’t any immediate harm if you continue adding water to your puppy’s food, although your dog may become a picky eater.
Also consider that soaking food for your puppy is time-consuming; it’s more convenient to transition your puppy to dry food as early as possible.
Is Wet Or Dry Food Better For Puppies?
Whether wet or dry dog food is better for puppies is a subject open to much debate. Many dog owners sit on either side of the fence here. So, what you decide to do can be a challenging decision to make.
Generally speaking, most owners will prefer to feed their puppy dry food, but it may not suit yours.
Instead of just making a random decision, it is advised to weigh up the pros and cons of both.
Let us now take a closer look below:
Wet Food Pros and Cons
|Pros For Wet Food||Cons For Wet Food|
|Puppies instantly take to wet food as it is easier to eat, it smells delicious, and it has a natural gravy, which is very appealing. Even the most easily distracted puppy usually cannot resist wet food.||Wet food will stick to your puppies teeth. This can cause dental issues and plaque buildup unless they are routinely cleaned.|
|Wet dog food has more water, thus offers more hydration – this is helpful if you have a very active dog that doesn’t drink much water.||Storage can be problematic as tins often hold more than one serving. |
You must consider covering and refrigerating to avoid spoiling.
There is also a bit of cleaning up as tins must be washed out before recycling.
|Dogs naturally feel fuller after having wet food, so it can help your dog maintain a healthy weight.||Puppies are often messy eaters, so it is easier to sweep up dry food than wet food.|
Dry Food Pros and Cons
|Pros For Dry Food||Cons For Dry Food|
|Dry food will not stick to your puppies teeth and it can help naturally scrape off tartar and plaque.||Highly active and puppies with a lot of growing to do need lots of protein. |
Wet food may be a better option for them than dry food, as wet foods tend to be higher in protein.
|Since dry food is a more popular option with owners; there’s a lot more choice available on the market.|
There are many options for different breeds, size, age and activity level and even palates!
|Puppies with new emerging teeth can struggle with dry dog food and it can be painful to consume.|
|Some puppies are grazers and prefer to free feed. |
Dry food can be left out in their dog bowl, and it will not spoil quickly.
|Dry food is easier to store, and room temperature isn’t an issue, as long as it’s dry.|
As you can see there is a lot to consider.
Bear in mind that the longer and more often you feed wet food, the harder it will be to switch your puppy over to dry food.
But thankfully, it does not have to be one or the other.
Many owners decide to give their puppies both wet and dry dog food; and this combination is probably best.
But if you do so, try to make dry food the bulk of the diet and offer wet food every now and again.
You can even consider mixing the two together to increase the palatability of the food and ensure your dog gets used to dry food.
Or, wet food could be used as a treat.
How Do I Transition My Puppy To Kibble?
The best way to transition your puppy to kibble is to do it gradually.
Starting with predominantly wet food, and slowly taking it away whilst adding dry food in its place.
It is advised to reduce the water content by 10% every 2-3 days to allow your puppy to adjust to the new texture – it will make the process much more effective.
By the end of around 4 weeks (a month), your puppy should have been able to have successfully transitioned to kibble.
Although, you may want to consider adding a little water if you do notice your dog avoiding their food.
You can repeat the process as many times as you and your puppy needs.
It’s not actually too challenging to transition your puppy to dry food, but it does require a little effort, monitoring and a desire to make it work.
How Long Should it Take To Transition To Dry Dog Food?
It should only take between 2-4 weeks for a puppy to transition over to dry dog food, so long as you are consistently reducing the water content day by day.
But it may take a little long; especially if it takes you some time to find the right brand of dry dog food that your puppy enjoys without any added water.
Puppies are usually willing and able to transition over to dog food at around the age of 8 weeks. This is when their full set of teeth have come in.
That being said, it does vary by puppy. The transition may be easier for you than for others or vice versa.
Either way, you should ensure that your puppy is introduced to dry foods as early on as possible; this will prevent any fussy eating and preferences that will be later hard to overcome.
Making the transition over to dry food ultimately takes patience and attention to detail, as you’ll need to the water to kibble ratio to be just right.
Whatever you do, try not to get discouraged with your puppy, they will eventually get there even if it takes time.
Either way, the most important thing is that your puppy is being raised on the highest quality of food, and they are eating a sufficient amount of it.
Finding a food that is right for them; in terms of taste and texture, and for us, availability, price, and to support our puppies development, is what it is all about.
If you have any questions, then it is best to seek out the advice of a vet. They’ll be able to help you both before and during the process and will even be able to advise specific foods for your specific breed.
And lastly; do not forget to ask questions of your breeder. Finding out what they have already done and raised your puppy on will be a lot more helpful than you think!
Sometimes, they may even be able to map it all out for you.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.