When Do Puppies Start Eating Food & Drinking Water

When you are raising puppies, you know that one day each little pup is going to change someone’s entire world and make their life whole.

It is important to make sure your puppies get everything they need so they can grow big and strong and be the best dogs they can be!

In this guide we will see when Exactly Should Puppies start eating Solid Food.

When do puppies Start eating Food and Drinking water?

Puppies should start eating food when their teeth start growing in. This usually happens when the puppies are around 3 to 4 weeks old. You should introduce water to your pups around the same time they start eating food.

Switching your pups from drinking milk or formula to eating solid food is not as stressful and difficult as it may seem. It might take time and patience to get your pups ready for dog-food, but there is no need to worry!

This guide will provide you with expert advice on when and how to start giving your puppies food and water, as well as information on the best kinds of food and safe milk-replacement options!

At What Age Can Puppies Start Eating Food?

Like I said, puppies should start eating softened food when their teeth start growing in, which usually happens when the pups are around 3 to 4 weeks old.

This is extremely important when you have puppies that are nursing from their mother. Nursing becomes awfully painful for Mom when her pups start getting their teeth! Whether you decide to feed soft or dry food, you should mix your pups food with warm water or puppy formula until they have their full set of teeth.

Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Puppies?

Wet and dry food are both fine for your puppy. The only type of food experts claim is bad for puppies is raw dog food or raw meat. When selecting food for your puppy, make sure the food is labeled for puppies and the first ingredient is meat.

Puppy food has a lot more calories and protein than adult dog food, which the puppies need for their growing bodies, so it is extremely important that they have puppy food and not adult dog food.

Puppy food comes in both dry and wet form, so it is really up to you which kind you want to feed them. There are pros and cons for each.

  Wet Food Dry Food
Pros ·         Most dogs enjoy it better than dry food

·         Typically do not contain artificial colors or preservatives

·         Contains more water (helps with hydration)

·         Feels more natural to eat for dogs than dry food

·         Higher amounts of protein and fat

·         Much more affordable

·         Cleans your pup’s teeth

·         Does not need to be prepared

·         Some contain probiotics

·         Pretty long shelf life

·         Easy cleanup

Cons ·         More expensive

·         More of a hassle to prepare and feed

·         Cannot be left out for more than an hour

·         Once opened, needs to be refrigerated

·         A lot messier

·         Dogs don’t seem to enjoy it as much

·         Can be harder for puppies and old dogs to chew

·         Many foods contain artificial colors and preservatives


Of course there are exceptations to the pros and cons. The dry food I feed my dogs is a little more on the expensive side, but it has no artificial colors or preservatives and my dogs love it! You should just see what options are out there and decide which type and brand of food works best for you and your puppy.


Let's see How You can Introduce Food to Puppies
Let’s see How You can Introduce Food to Puppies

How do You Introduce Food to Puppies?

To introduce food to puppies you will want to soften the food with warm water or puppy formula. With dry food you will want to mash or blend the food to create a mush that looks like oatmeal.

With wet food you should still soften with water or formula, but you will not have to use as much. You should continue to soften your puppies food until they have their full set of teeth, which should happen by the time they are 8 weeks old.

I do not recommend using puppy formula if your pups have been nursing from their mom; by the time a puppies teeth are growing in they should have all the nutrients they need from their mothers milk.

Puppies who have their mother also will not need to smell something familiar on the food to know they should eat it because they will be able to learn to eat by watching Mom!

What is the Best Food to Start Feeding Your Puppy

The best food to feed your puppy depends on your pups breed and size. As long as the first ingredient in the food is meat (not meat by-products, REAL meat), and the food is made for puppies specifically, then the food should be good. My dogs eat Taste of the Wild and I always recommend it to other dog owners.

Taste of the Wild is a little more on the expensive side, but it’s grain-free and it’s the only food I can give my dog with skin allergies. Obviously, you will not know what your puppies will weigh when they become adults, but you should be able to get a rough estimate.

You need to determine if your pup is going to be a small or large breed to know the best food for them.

What Time of Day Should Puppies Eat Their Food

The time of day your puppies eat depends on you and your schedule. The pups should get their meals at the same time every day, so you will need to determine what times work best for you to feed your puppies consistently.

How Much Food Should a Puppy Eat Per Day

Puppy’s Age Number of Meals a Day
 4 – 8 weeks old 4 meals a day
 2 – 3 months old 4 meals a day
4 – 6 months old 3 meals a day
6 months old and older 2 meals a day

When you purchase puppy food (or dog food when they get older), the label should have instructions on how much to feed your puppy each day. You will need to divide the recommended daily amount of food into a certain amount of meals depending on the age of your puppy.

I am going to use Taste of the Wild’s High Prairie Puppy Formula as an example (this is a dry food).

How much/ How often to feed your Puppy
How much/ How often to feed your Puppy

Let’s say that I have a 6-week-old puppy that weighs 3 lbs. At 6 weeks my puppy would need to eat 4 meals a day, and at 3 lbs. my puppy would need 1 cup of food every day. So I divide the recommended daily amount of food (1) by the number of meals my puppy needs per day (4). 1 divided by 4 is ¼ so I need to feed my 6-week-old, 3 pound puppy ¼ cup of food four times a day.

How Long Should a Puppy Eat Puppy Food?

A puppy should eat puppy food until they are fully grown. Smaller dog breeds reach their adult size much sooner than larger breeds, so the type of puppy you have will determine how long you pup needs to eat puppy food. It is not possible to know what your pup will weigh when it is full grown, but you should be able to get a rough estimate based on your pups breed. This chart will help you estimate what time your puppy should switch from puppy food to adult dog food.

Breed Size Estimated Adult Weight When to Switch to Adult Food
Small Breed Under 20 lbs. 9 – 12 months old
Medium Breed 20 – 50 lbs. 12 – 14 months old
Large Breed 50 – 100 lbs. 12 – 18 months old
Giant Breed Over 100 lbs. 18 – 24 months old


Can Older Dogs Eat Puppy Food

Older dogs really should not eat puppy food, especially large breeds. Puppy food has A LOT more calories and protein than adult dog food to help the pup’s growing body. Once your dog is fully grown, they do not need the extra calories and protein from puppy food and too much can hurt them. Especially in larger breeds, excess calories and protein can cause a lot of internal issues for your dog.

Introducing your Puppy to Water, Puppies Can drink water when they are around 3-4weeks old
Introducing your Puppy to Water, Puppies Can drink water when they are around 3-4weeks old

Can Puppies Drink Water? How do You Introduce A Puppy to Water?

Puppies can start drinking water when their teeth start to grow in around 3 to 4 weeks after they are born. Once their teeth start growing in, puppies need to be introduced to both food and water. There are a few ways to introduce water to your puppy. First, if Mom is there, let the puppies watch her drink and drink with her. Puppies have a natural instinct to copy their mom so they can learn the skills they will need as adults.

If Mom isn’t around or that method is not working, there is another method you can try. First place the bowl of water in front of the puppy. Then, dip your fingers into the bowl of water and wet the pup’s nose. They should lick the water off their nose and realize they are supposed to drink it.

When do Puppies Start Drinking Water & Can Puppies Drink Water?

Puppies can start drinking water when their teeth start growing in (around 3 to 4 weeks old). Once a pup’s teeth start growing in they have already got all of the nutrients they needed from their mother’s milk, and they are ready to start eating food and drinking water!

Can 2-Week-Old Puppies Drink Water?

No. 2-week-old puppies should still be drinking their mother’s milk and they aren’t ready to start drinking water. Puppies grow pretty fast, so in about another week (3-weeks-old) the pup’s teeth should be starting to grow in and they will be ready for both food and water!

Can 4-Week-Old Puppies Drink Water?

Yes. Your puppies should start eating food AND drinking water by the time their teeth are growing in (when they are around 3 to 4 weeks old). By the time a puppies teeth are growing in they have already got all the nutrients they needed from their Mom’s milk, which means they need water to stay hydrated now.

How Much Water Should a Puppy Drink?

Puppies should drinks much water as they want (or will). As long as your pup is not gulping large amounts of water until they throw up you should not restrict the amount of water your puppies drink. You should just leave a bowl of water out all day for the pups, but make sure your refresh the water when it gets gross and dirty. Making sure your dogs water is clean and cool encourages them to drink.

Puppy Won’t Drink Water – How to Get a Puppy to Drink Water

There are a few things you can try if your pup won’t drink. If Mom has been nursing the pups, let them watch her drink. They will most likely copy what she does because they have a natural instinct to learn from Mom! If that doesn’t work, or if your pups have been bottle fed, there are other things you can try.

First you can try placing a shallow bowl of water in front of the puppy.

Then use your fingers to put a few small drops of water on the pup’s nose. They should lick the water and realize they are supposed to drink from the bowl. You could also just put the pup’s head in the bowl, but I do not recommend this.

If your puppy gets scared or thinks she/he is in trouble they could form a negative association with the bowl of water and become even less willing to drink. If placing the bowl in front of them and wetting their nose does not work you should exercise your puppy.

Take them for a walk or play with a toy until your pup starts getting tired, then when you get back, place the bowl in front of them and wet their nose again. This should encourage them to drink.

If that does not work, you can try lightly splashing your pup with the water and try to make it into a game. If the pup learns to associate the water with fun, they will be more confident with investigating it, and like all babies, they’ll put it in their mouth.

Puppy Drinking water
Puppy Drinking water

How Much Water Should a Puppy Drink During Potty Training?

Unfortunately, even while they are potty training puppies should drink as much water as they want. Your puppy most likely knows when it is thirsty better than you do; how are we supposed to know what they are thinking and feeling?

You don’t want to keep your puppy from drinking water if they need it, so you should still provide a bowl of fresh, cool water for your pup 24/7.

Remember, potty training is about teaching the puppies where to go to the bathroom, not preventing them from going to the bathroom. Sometimes that means you have to buy some extra puppy pads and clean up accidents, but hey, nobody said that being a dog parent was easy.

Should I Leave Water Out for My Puppy All Day?

Yes you should absolutely leave water out for your puppy all day. The only reason you should ever not leave out water for your pup 24/7 would be if they constantly drink large amounts of water and then throw it all up.

You do need to check the water every now and then to make sure it is still fresh and clean. Cool, fresh water encourages pups to drink; I wouldn’t want to drink slobber water that’s been sitting on the floor for 5 hours, the pups don’t either.

What to do if Puppy is Drinking Lots of Water and Urinating

If your puppy is drinking lots of water and urinating a lot, there is no need to panic. You need to figure out why your pup is drinking and urinating more than usual. There are several completely harmless reasons your pup might be drinking more.

If the temperature has been warmer than usual, then your pup is probably just getting dehydrated faster. If your pup has recently become more active and is moving around a lot this will also cause them to drink more water than usual. They could also have eaten more salt than usual which would make them need more water.

However, if nothing in the pup’s environment has changed, excessive drinking and urinating could be a sign that the puppy is sick. You should call or visit your vet to find out what is wrong. Again, there is no need to panic. The issue could be as simple as a case of polydipsia, which is just “excessive thirst.”


a Great Guide on how to Bottle Feed Milk to very young Puppies

Puppies & Milk 

When do Puppies Stop Drinking Milk?

Puppies stop drinking milk when their teeth start growing in about 3 to 4 weeks of age. When a pups teeth start growing in, it’s natures way of saying that the pup is ready to start eating! Anyone who was rough-housed with a puppy knows how sharp those little teeth can be. Once Mom feels those baby teeth grow in she weans her pups off milk and shows them how to eat food and drink water.

Can Puppies Drink Baby Formula Milk Replacer?

No, puppies cannot have human baby formula milk replacer. Puppies and human babies need different nutrients to grow up big and strong. But don’t worry! they have formula milk replacer for puppies!

Most people with experience recommend the puppy formula Esbilac by PetAg. I have never used it, but when I worked in a feed store Esbilac was the number one formula choice for dog breeders, vets, and animal rescues.

What Kind of Milk Can Puppies Drink?

Puppies can drink their mothers milk and formula milk replacer made for puppies. During my research a little over half of the sources said puppies should not have cow’s or goat’s milk, but a little less than half said both are safe to give them. Because of that I would not recommend giving a pup cow’s or goat’s milk.

It is very common for dogs to be lactose intolerant, so the milk would make their tummy upset and possibly give them diarrhea and make them throw up.

I mentioned that a lot of experienced puppy breeders, vets, and animal rescues recommend Esbilac by PetAg. They have several different puppy formula options, and one of them is a powdered goat’s milk puppy formula.

I would say this is safe, and I would say that if you really want to give the puppy milk then goat’s milk is the safer option.

The other great thing about Esbilac is that they have powdered and liquid formulas. So if you really don’t want to mix formula for the puppies then Esbalic has cans of puppy milk replacer that are already in liquid form! Just warm it up, put it in the bottle, and you’re ready to go!

Can Puppies Drink Cow Milk?

As I said, a little more than half the experts say not to give pups cow milk while a little less than half said it is safe to give them. I personally would not recommend it. A lot of dogs and puppies are lactose intolerant, so giving them cow’s milk could result in tummy aches, weakness, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Can Puppies Drink Goat Milk?

Again I do not recommend giving your puppies goat milk. Between cow milk and goat milk, goat milk is the safer option but your puppy could still be lactose intolerant and get sick from the milk. Esbalic makes a goat’s milk puppy formula milk replacer as well as several non-goat’s milk puppy milk replacers. They also have cans of puppy milk replacer that are already in liquid form and much safer for your pup than goat milk.

Related Questions

What to do if my puppy is not eating or drinking? First of all, don’t panic. Dogs are pack animals so they are especially good at sensing emotions. If you panic your puppy will feed off your emotions and it might make the situation worse.

There are a few things you can try to get your pup to eat and drink. First, if Mom or another dog with a good relationship with the puppy is there, you can let the puppy watch them eat and drink. Puppies have a natural instinct to copy adult dogs to learn the skills they will need when they are grown.

If that does not work or if the pups do not have a role model, there are some other things you can try. First try placing the bowl of food or water under the pup’s face. Use your fingers to put food or water from the bowl on the pup’s nose.

The puppy should lick the food and water and realize they are supposed to eat/drink it. If the puppy was bottle fed, you can use the puppy formula to soften the food. The familiar smell of milk will tell your puppy that food is meant to be eaten.

If none of those things work you can try making food and water a game. Gently splash your pup with water, shake the bowl of food like you would a toy, use your excited play-time voice, or whatever it takes to get your puppy excited.

If they learn to associate the food and water bowls with fun, they will be more willing to investigate them and interact with them. And like all babies who find something they like, they’ll eventually put it in their mouth and learn to eat food. If that does not work you might need to call or visit your vet and find out if something is wrong.

What to do if puppy drinks water too fast and throws up? If this only happened once or twice then you should not worry about it. Remember puppies are still learning and testing their limits, so sometimes they drink or eat more than they need.

If a dog drinks too much water they will throw it up. However, if this is happening frequently and on a regular basis you need to take your pup to the vet. This could be a sign of kidney problems or other illness.

Can puppies drink orange juice? I do not recommend giving your puppy orange juice. Experts do say that dogs can have a very small amount of orange juice, but the key word there is “dogs.”

Too much orange juice can hurt a grown dog, so I think it would be safer not to give it to a puppy who’s body is not fully developed or very strong.

Categories Dogs