When to Start Feeding Puppies Wet Food
There are so many joys in being a new puppy parent. Whether you have a brand-new puppy who is making a transition to solid food or want to bring some variety to your older puppy’s diet, you might be wondering at what age can puppies eat wet food. Here’s what you need to know.
Is Wet Food Good for Puppies?
The short answer is yes, wet food is a good choice when you’re considering what to feed your puppy. In fact, if you’re in the process of weaning your puppy away from mother’s milk, you know that their first introduction to solid food is a soft, moist food mixture made using either wet food, or softened dry kibble.
If your puppy has joined your family at a slightly older age and is currently eating dry food, the same holds true for them. Their first introduction to food eaten from a bowl was a form of wet food. So all puppies have experienced wet food earlier in their young lives.
In addition to smelling and tasting quite yummy to puppies, wet puppy food is an attractive choice for their owners. Its soft texture makes it easy on tender new teeth and small mouths. Since it contains liquid that nutritionally dense dry foods lack, it also provides extra hydration.
At What Age Can Puppies Eat Wet Food?
As part of the weaning process, a puppy’s introduction to solid food, in the form of a wet food mixture, begins at about four weeks of age. Puppies are usually fully weaned, and transitioned to solid food, by eight weeks of age.
If your puppy is past the weaning stage and eating dry food, you can choose to add wet food to their diet, or transition to wet food, at any time. As with any change in diet, be sure to add or transition in gradual steps, to allow your puppy’s digestive system time to adjust. For additional guidance on transitioning your puppy to a different type of diet, consult your veterinarian.
What is the Best Wet Food for Puppies?
The best wet puppy food is one that is complete and balanced for puppies, with the specific nutritional support your puppy needs to get off to a healthy start. According to Dr. Lisa Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist and professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, a puppy food that is complete and balanced will meet the minimum nutrient levels recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for growing puppies and avoid exceeding AAFCO maximums. She recommends that pet owners check the nutritional adequacy statements on pet food labels.
Another way to be sure you’re feeding a complete and nutritious wet puppy food is to make sure it’s made by a company you know and trust. For example, Purina has a long history of creating quality pet foods, and offers a wide range of wet and dry puppy foods, each formulated to provide puppies with the nutrition they need to support development during their critical first year (or longer for large breed puppies).
How to Introduce Wet Food to Your Puppy
If you’re in the process of weaning your puppy, you can start introducing small meals made from a quality puppy food, either in wet form with a small amount of added water for extra hydration, or a moistened version of dry puppy food. According to the Dog Owner’s Veterinary Handbook, the “recipe” for each is generally:
For wet food, mix two parts food to one part water.
For dry food, mix one part food to three parts water.
If your puppy is new to solid food, you’ll want to serve their small portions in a bowl with low sides for easy access, and a stable bottom to make it hard to tip over—in case your puppy decides to put more than their head into the food. Stand by with some soft, damp cloths for cleanup in case they wind up wearing some of their food as well as eating it. This is all new for them, so rest assured that they will develop better bowl behavior in time.
If you’re switching to wet puppy food, or adding it to your puppy’s dry food diet, be sure to make these changes gradually. Your veterinarian can provide helpful tips to make this process a smooth one.
How Much Wet Food to Feed Your Puppy
Most puppies really like the smell and taste of wet puppy food. A lot. And while puppies may need their daily nutrition divided into multiple daily meals, depending on their size, to keep up with their energetic activities, your puppy might still love to have more meals, please.
So free feeding wet food, or feeding until your puppy stops eating, is not a good idea.
Instead, to determine how much to feed your puppy, follow the feeding instructions on the label of the food you’ve carefully chosen and speak to your veterinarian. If you have questions, your veterinarian is a good source for answers.
You Can Make Wet Food a Beneficial Part of Your Puppy’s Diet
By choosing a quality wet food formulated with your puppy’s nutrition and development in mind, and taking care to introduce and feed it properly, you can successfully make wet puppy food a nutritious (and delicious) part of your puppy’s diet.
For more expert tips on feeding your puppy, explore our other puppy feeding articles.