When you bring an 8-week old puppy home for the first time, you have so many questions.
Everything seems like a challenge, even something as natural and straightforward as feeding. But it is good to question because your puppy needs a certain amount of food to grow into a healthy adult dog.
In this article, we will answer your question – how often should puppies eat at 8-weeks-old? We will also look at what they need to eat, how much, and what to avoid feeding a puppy.
Keep reading until the end of the article for a guide on how to design your puppy feeding schedule based on your individual puppy’s needs.
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In this article, we will discuss:
- Understanding your puppy’s weaning journey
- What does an 8-week-old puppy eat?
- Can a puppy eat human food?
- What human food should you avoid giving to a puppy?
- How often should you feed an 8-week-old puppy?
- How to feed an 8-week-old-puppy
- How to create a puppy feeding schedule
Understanding Your Puppy’s Weaning Journey
When puppies are first born, their diet consists entirely of the mother’s milk. Mother’s milk is nutrient-dense and contains all of the antibodies a puppy needs for the healthy development of their immune system and the growth and development of their joints and bones. During this period, puppies spend all of their time eating and sleeping.
From 4-8 weeks is the weaning period. Puppies begin to open their eyes and ears, and they start exploring the world around them. During this time, they will be able to go to the toilet without the assistance of the mother. The puppies naturally wean off their mother’s milk onto solids, but the process can be speeded up with the help of the breeder to ensure that the puppies transition onto solids by the time they leave to go to their new home at 8 weeks.
8 Weeks onwards
Your puppy will already have been on solids for a little while after you bring them home with you, so you will continue to feed them the food they are used to until it runs out, which is usually provided by the breeder. Then you can choose to transition your puppy onto a brand of high-quality puppy food of your choosing.
What Does An 8-Week-Old Puppy Eat?
At 8 weeks, puppies will have been fully weaned off their mother’s milk and are used to eating solid food.
Sometimes puppies may need hard kibble softened up in a bit with lukewarm water until their teeth and chewing ability match their hunger.
You should choose a high-quality puppy food brand to feed your puppy. Whichever brand you go for, it is essential that you buy the puppy variety and not the adult variety, as the puppy food contains all the extra calories and nutrients your puppy needs for healthy development.
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A trip to your local pet store or your veterinarian clinic will present you with a wide range of choices, with something to suit every budget. You can choose from kibble, soft canned food, or a combination of kibble and soft food.
Some dog owners opt for a raw food diet to mimic what an animal would naturally eat in the wild.
If you want to go down this route but you have not experienced in feeding dogs a healthy and balanced raw food diet, it is better to opt for a ready-prepared raw diet brand such as Nature’s Menu or Raw Instinct.
The puppy options will be based on a simple meat choice that your puppy’s’ stomach can handle, like chicken, and contain the correct ratios of meat, bone, and offal.
Because puppies are still physically developing, they need more food than an adult dog, so don’t be surprised when looking at the feeding guidelines on packets of puppy food in comparison to the adult variety.
As long as you stick to recommended amounts, give your puppy the exercise it needs, and keep an eye on his weight, you should not have to worry about your puppy becoming obese.
Can A Puppy Eat Human Food?
It is possible to prepare a home-cooked diet for your puppy; however, this is not advised, as it is unlikely that you will be able to provide your puppy with everything they need in their meals.
This can lead to deficiencies that may affect your puppy’s health and development, causing stunted growth or health problems further on down the line.
Unless you have the advice of an animal nutritionist when coming up with your recipes, it is best to stick to specially formulated puppy meals by a reputable dog food brand.
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If you are set on feeding your puppy human foods, many independent dog food companies are popping up now that formulate their meals using human-grade ingredients.
The meals are delivered already cooked and adequately portioned, only needing to be defrosted. Again it is critical to go for their puppy options to make sure your pup gets the amount of food it needs.
Another option is to feed your puppy healthy scraps of human food as training treats and rewards as well as providing high-quality puppy food.
It is essential to factor in how much you give them in scraps so that you can subtract a suitable amount from their main meals and ensure that they are not overfed.
Healthy and safe human foods to offer your pup include a variety of cooked and raw vegetables.
It is a good idea to blanch raw veggies so that your pup can more easily digest them, but feel free to offer a raw carrot as they make great puppy chews and are good teeth cleaners.
You can also offer different fruits like apple and bits of cooked meat like a chicken.
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There are human foods that you should avoid offering your puppy at all costs, though, as these are toxic and will make your dog very ill. Keep reading to find out more.
What Human Foods Should You Avoid Giving To A Puppy?
It can be tempting to offer an adorable puppy table scraps, but make sure that the whole family is aware of the following foods, which are an absolute no-no for dogs of any age.
Some people may agree or disagree with certain foods on this list. You may want to err on the safe side. It is best just to avoid them if you want to avoid a hefty vet bill or worse.
The following human foods and drinks are either TOXIC or very unhealthy for dogs and puppies. Please note that this list is not exhaustive:
- High-caffeine drinks
- High-sugar drinks
- Chocolate (especially dark chocolate!)
- Grapes & Raisins
- Milk & Dairy
- Onion, Garlic & Chives
- Salt/Salty Foods
- Xylitol (found in candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods)
- Whole fruits that contain pips (the pips are dangerous)
- Yeast Dough
- Human medicine
How Often Should You Feed An 8-Week-Old Puppy?
As mentioned above, puppies need to eat a larger quantity of food than adult dogs of the same breed or size.
Of course, a puppy’s stomach is much smaller, which means that this more significant quantity of food must be broken down into bite-sized portions.
Some people like to leave a large bowl of kibble out for a puppy to graze on when they feel hungry. In this fashion, the puppy can self-manage its meals. However, this isn’t necessarily recommended.
It can also be more challenging to monitor how much your puppy is eating if you free-feed, merely topping up the bowl when it needs it.
This is especially true if you happen to have a second dog in the household or a cat that is feasting on your puppy’s bowl as well as your puppy.
Feeding your puppy in a more controlled and structured way to allows you to see how much food your puppy is eating per meal. Adjusting your feeding schedule accordingly as your puppy grows.
It is also a great help when it comes to potty training your puppy, as it will become more predictable when your puppy needs to go to the toilet. You can keep an eye on them directly after meals or take them into the garden and avoid accidents in the home.
To begin with, you can feed your 8-week-old puppy 4 or 5 small meals a day. As your puppy grows, they will be able to eat more food in one sitting.
This will be the perfect opportunity to increase the portion size but reduce the number of meals per day until your adult dog is happily eating just 1 or 2 meals a day.
This process usually spans over the first 6-12 months of your pup’s life.
How To Feed An 8-Week-Old Puppy
At 8 weeks, the only assistance your pup will need at feeding time is to moisten any hard kibble with warm water until they get used to crunching and chewing it with ease.
Not all puppies will need this assistance, but if you have a small breed with an unusually tiny jaw, then they may not initially have the strength to bite into some brands of dog food.
Although generally speaking, puppy kibble is smaller in size than adult kibble. This might be something to consider when choosing a brand of puppy food.
Mealtimes offer an excellent opportunity to incorporate some puppy training. You can reinforce calm behavior in your puppy by making them wait patiently in a designated spot for their meals to be prepared.
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You can also teach your puppy to sit as you place the food bowl down and only to eat when you give them a specific release command.
Some people like to use a puppy’s meal to provide rewards for training sessions. Your puppy’s kibble is perfect, as you can offer individual pieces of kibble as rewards during your training session.
Another way to feed your 8-week-old puppy and provide some great mental stimulation is to use slow feeders. These can come in the form of a food-dispensing ball.
The ball is filled with the kibble, and your puppy then has to manipulate the ball by rolling it around the floor for the kibble to fall out of the opening.
Many feeding balls have adjustable openings so that you can make it super easy to get them interested at first, and then increase the challenge.
Slow feeders also come in the form of puzzle toys, maze bowls, and Kongs. Kong toys are a particular favorite as they are made from highly durable rubber, making them great chew toys for teething puppies.
You can fill them with kibble, soft food, or other treats. You can even fill them up and put them in the freezer for more of a challenge when your puppy gets used to them.
Your pup will appreciate this in the hot summer months. These will keep your puppy entertained for a long time, so they are perfect for the times when you have to leave your puppy alone, as it will keep them occupied.
How To Create a Puppy Feeding Schedule
Creating a Puppy Feeding schedule is very straightforward. Simply divide up the quantity of food your puppy is supposed to eat in a day; the instructions on the back of the food packaging should help you to calculate this.
Then divide that up into 4 to 6 small portions depending on the size of your dog. A larger puppy will be able to handle more food in one sitting and will, therefore, need fewer meals per day.
Now decide what times are most convenient to you for feeding. This will, of course, depend on when people are around to feed the dog, when you wake up in the morning, and when you want to go to bed at night.
Here is an excellent example of a puppy-feeding schedule that you can adapt for your own needs:
- Meal #1 – Breakfast time, morning
- Meal #2 – Mid-morning snack
- Meal #3 – Lunchtime, around noon
- Meal #4 – Late-afternoon snack
- Meal #5 – Dinner time, evening
- Meal #6 – Bedtime snack
As soon as the puppy starts to grow, the snacks would be reduced and eliminated so that the puppy is only having three main meals per day, which is the average amount for a puppy.
When puppies are so young, it can feel like such a massive responsibility, and the pressure to get everything right can feel overwhelming. But the truth is that armed with the basic facts you have found in this article, the rest of your journey with your new puppy can be tailored to meet the individual needs of you and your puppy. So go with your instincts, observe your dog, and learn intuitively from them what they need.