Hungry 8 week old puppy.

What To Feed A Puppy At 8 Weeks Old: Fact Checked By Vet

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 24th January 2023

Around eight weeks is when most puppies arrive at their new homes. And given they’ve been nursing up until that point, figuring out what to feed your little pooch may seem like a tough task for new dog parents.

So, let’s make your job a bit easier and take the guess work out.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about feeding your young pup.

Let’s dive in.


What Type Of Dog Food Should A Puppy Eat?

Most puppies are nursing until around eight weeks of age, so this is when they start transitioning to solid food. Of course, the transition should be gradual, which is why it’s best to start your pooch on wet food at first.

Related: The 8 Best Dog Foods Australia.

This is not to say you can’t feed puppies kibble at this point in their life. But given that they’ve been nursing until just recently, their chewing ability is something they need to practice. That’s why, if you decide to feed your puppy dry food, it’s best to soften the kibble with warm water first.

Related: Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?

The choice between wet food and dry food is up to you, but what you should pay attention to when buying dog food for your little pup is the type of formula. In other words, the food you’re feeding your puppy should be appropriate for a dog of just eight weeks of age.

Related: How To Choose The Right Dog Food?

Different Life Stage Formulas

First, dog food can fall under one of these categories when it comes to a dog’s life stage:

  • Growth/reproduction
  • Adult
  • Senior
  • All life stages

The difference between these formulas lies in their nutritional values. While growing, puppies need a diet that supports their fast development. This is why growth formulas are rich in protein and fat, as well as a high amount of certain minerals that further help with their development, like calcium and phosphorus (1). Once they’re mature, dogs no longer need such an energy-packed formula, except in the case of athletic and working dogs. And of course, once your pooch grows old and becomes less active, a senior formula will help maintain a healthy weight and lean muscle mass. Finally, we have formulas designed to meet the nutritional requirements of all life stages.

Related: The Difference Between Puppy & Adult Dog Food.

As you can see, it is important what type of food you’re feeding your young pooch. At eight weeks of age, you have two options available: growth and all life stages.

Related: When To Switch Your Puppy To Adult Dog Food?

However, when it comes to dog food for all life stages, there’s something to keep in mind. These recipes are formulated to suit everyone, which is not an easy task to do. In order to achieve that, all-life-stages formulas usually meet the minimum standards for growth, so that they’re not too caloric for dogs in the later stages of their lives.

Now, such recipes work well for small and medium puppies (2). However, they might not contain enough nutrients to support the healthy growth of a large breed puppy. Large breeds have a higher growth rate compared to smaller breeds, so they need a diet that can support their growth and developing bones, without gaining unnecessary weight.

If you own a large breed puppy, it’s best to use puppy dog food, and specifically one that’s designed for these big babies. This type of diet is specifically designed to provide necessary nutrients during their growing life stage.


How Often Should A Puppy Eat?

Adult dogs typically eat once or twice a day, but that’s not the case with growing puppies. Just like human babies, puppies should eat three to four times a day. This makes perfect sense, as they have smaller stomachs, which get full fast but also digest food quickly. This also means puppies need to go potty several times a day, after every meal.

Related: How Many Times Per Day Should You Feed Your Dog?

Now, all those meals should be several hours apart. Ideally, your puppy feeding schedule should be:

  • Early morning
  • Noon
  • Early afternoon
  • Evening

Of course, you should modify the feeding schedule to fit your own daily schedule, as your pooch will need to go potty about 30 minutes after eating. So for instance, don’t feed your puppy right before you’re leaving for work. Instead, make sure there’s enough time for your little pooch to digest the food and do “the number two.”


How Much Food Should A 8-Week Puppy Eat?

This is a difficult question, as there’s no single answer when it comes to portion sizes. No puppy is the same, so the size of the meal depends on a lot of factors, including the breed, current weight, activity levels and the type of food you’re using.

With that being said, all dog food has some kind of guideline on the packaging indicating the amount suitable for your puppy based on weight and age. This is typically a good place to start when determining how much food to feed your little canine companion. From there, you can adjust the portions if they seem to be too big or too small for your puppy.

Related: What To Feed Puppies In Their First 6 Weeks?

In the case there’s always food left over after your pup has finished eating, then you could easily lower the quantity. On the other hand, figuring out whether the portion is too small for your puppy or not is a bit more difficult. When they’re this young, dogs are very likely to overeat, so you need to be careful to not feed them more food than they need. To do that, you need to observe your pooch and see if there’s a change in weight or energy levels.

Related: How Much Food Should You Feed Your Dog?

Finally, don’t forget about treats, as they’re an important part of early training. Given that these treats also contain nutrients, you can easily overfeed your puppy with them. However, the treats should make up no more than 10% of your little Fido’s daily food intake (3). That’s why it’s important that you keep an eye on the calories of those treats, and use them considerately.


Final Thoughts

Around eight weeks of age is when most puppies slowly transition from nursing to eating solid food. As a pet parent, you need to ensure the new food is nutritionally complete for your young pup, depending on different factors like weight, breed and activity levels. If you’re unsure whether the new diet is suitable for your puppy, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian.

References

  1. Ardente, A. January 17, 2023. “How To Choose the Right Food for Your Puppy”. PetMD. Retrieved May 31, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/best-puppy-food
  2. Lovejoy, J. January 19, 2023. “Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?”. PetMD. Retrieved May 31, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/can-puppies-eat-adult-dog-food
  3. Redfearn, S. May 26, 2014.”Healthy Treats for Your Dog”. FETCH by WebMD. Retrieved May 31, 2023. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/healthy-dog-treats

Vedrana Nikolic


Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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