How to Introduce a Puppy to Its First Food

Introduce puppies gradually to solid food.

Introduce puppies gradually to solid food.

Weaning from mother’s milk to solid food is an essential step in the development of every puppy. Eating solid food indicates that the puppy is developing normally and will soon be ready to move onto his new home. Introduce new food slowly to avoid digestive upset.

Introduce your puppy to solid food when he is 3 to 4 weeks old. Puppies become mobile at this age and will begin to explore their environment. Puppies will often sample from their mother’s bowl, a sign that they are ready to try solid food.

Pour two cups of high-quality puppy food in a shallow feeding dish. Add one cup of hot water to the kibble, and let the mixture soak for 15 minutes. This will soften the food enough that it will not hurt the puppies’ tender mouths.

Line the feeding area with disposable housebreaking pads, and place the dish of softened food on the pads. Call the puppies to the dish, and allow them to sniff and explore the food. Some puppies will slowly sample the food, while others will dive straight into the dish.

Let the puppies eat their fill, and pick the dish up when they are finished. Wipe each puppy clean with a wet rag, and pick up the soiled housebreaking pads.

Feed this mixture to the litter three times a day for the first week. Reduce the amount of water by 1/4-cup a week until the puppies are eagerly eating dry kibble. Adjust the amount of kibble fed according to the size of the litter.

Items you will need

  • High-quality puppy food
  • Shallow feeding dishes
  • Puppy housebreaking pads
  • Washcloths


  • Leave a bowl of fresh water out at all times to prevent dehydration.
  • Puppies are extremely messy eaters, and housebreaking pads prevent the litter from tracking food all over your floors. Purchase housebreaking pads at your local pet store.

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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

Photo Credits

  • cat's food image by Ekaterina Shvaygert from