What Can Puppies Eat?

Puppies look cute when they behave, but always be on alert.
Photo by Debbie, Beaumont

After weaning, puppies can eat high-quality puppy food with the nutrition their young bodies require. They need specialized food because they are growing so fast, and they eat more often than adult dogs and older dogs. Feeding requirements also vary between large breed puppies and small and medium breed puppies. Read on to learn how to feed the newest, furriest young addition to your family.

When Do Puppies Start Eating Solid Food?

Your puppy will start eating some solid food along with her mother’s milk at about four weeks old, and she’ll probably be fully weaned and eating only puppy food by seven to eight weeks of age. Unless you’ve got a litter at home, chances are this process is taking place before you bring her home.

If you are getting your puppy from a breeder or adopting from a rescue shelter, it’s smart to find out the exact food they’ve been feeding her and share this information with your veterinarian. If the vet approves the puppy food they’re using, get the same type, if possible. This way you won’t have to worry about an upset puppy tummy when you bring your new puppy home—a period that can be overwhelming for you and her.

Feeding Puppies: The Basics

Because puppies grow lightning fast, they require a high-quality puppy food with a special nutritional profile, as well as high fat, calorie, and protein content. The high percentage of protein found in quality puppy food, as compared with adult dog food, supports your pup’s rapidly growing bones, muscles, and organs.

The puppy food should also contain the unique balance of vitamins and minerals that support your puppy’s immature immune system, including omega 3 fatty acids that support brain growth, and calcium for growing bones.

Finally, quality puppy food has higher fat content than adult dog food, to ensure puppies have the energy they need to explore their world and learn early life lessons through socialization, playtime, and obedience training.

Large breed puppies require further specialization in their food because they’re at elevated risk of developmental orthopedic problems, including hip dysplasia, that can result from rapid bone growth. Large breed puppy food is lower in fat and calories than puppy food formulated for small and medium breeds.

The amount of calcium and phosphorus—along with the ratio of calcium to phosphorus—in the diets of large breed puppies is also linked to the development of orthopedic illnesses. Quality food created for large breed puppies ensures your supersized pup doesn’t get too much or too little of these important minerals.

Always get recommendations from your veterinarian for the puppy food that best matches your dog’s size, breed, and unique issues.

Should Puppies Eat Wet or Dry Dog Food?

Both wet and dry dog foods come with pros and cons for your puppy, your budget, and your household storage space, so there is no single ‘right’ choice for everyone. Ultimately, high-quality puppy food—wet or dry—will provide the nutrition your growing puppy requires. You can even mix the two varieties, or offer wet food as a treat for special occasions.

What Else Can Puppies Eat?

You probably wonder what else you can feed your puppy beyond puppy food. After all, you’re no doubt the target of puppy dog eyes whenever you grab a snack or sit down for a meal. Many human foods are dangerous for dogs and puppies alike, and it’s important to keep them out of reach of your furry best friend at all times. But some human foods are okay for adult dogs and puppies, in small quantities. These foods are often ingredients in healthful dog treats, and make extra special incentives during house training and obedience training.

Can Puppies Eat Apples?

Yes. Your puppy can enjoy a small piece of apple without worry, so long as you’re careful to remove the seeds, which contain cyanide.

Can Puppies Eat Bananas?

Yes. Puppies can eat bananas, which are good sources of fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin C. But because they are high in sugar, add them to the ‘occasional treat’ list. The peels are difficult to digest, so keep them out of reach. Feed your pup small pieces of banana by hand, in a puzzle dog toy, or mashed up in his food.

Can Puppies Drink Milk or Eat Ice Cream?

Best avoided. Puppies are, of course, designed to drink their mother’s milk. But, similar to people, many puppies are lactose intolerant when it comes to cow’s milk and may experience gastrointestinal discomfort after drinking milk or eating ice cream. Milk alone has a high sugar content, and ice cream contains added sugar. Unless your puppy is allergic or intolerant, the rare lick of your ice cream or lap of spilled milk won’t hurt, but it’s wise not to give your puppy a taste for the sweet treats—there are many more healthful options.

Can Puppies Eat Cheese?

Yes. Cheese is a popular training tool for new puppy owners because most puppies love it and cheese contains lower amounts of lactose than milk and ice cream. Use cheese for training sparingly, however, because it is high in fat and calories. Dogs with high-fat diets are at risk of obesity, weight gain, and pancreatitis, a dangerous illness. If you do give your dog cheese, opt for low-fat varieties, such a low-fat cheddar or mozzarella. Make sure the cheese is free of common flavorings, such as garlic and chives, which are toxic foods for dogs.

Can Puppies Eat Peanut Butter?

Yes, but with a warning: Some low-sugar peanut butter options contain xylitol, a natural sugar substitute used in no-sugar chocolate and confections. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. Always read your peanut butter label and make sure there is no xylitol on the ingredients list.

Regular peanut butter is a favorite food for puppies and adult dogs, and it’s a healthful treat for them. Like the goodies above, it is valuable for any form of training. You’ll have a star student for every lesson if your puppy knows licks of peanut butter are her reward. Peanut butter is a helpful hiding place for pills your dog doesn’t want to take. It’s also a great distraction for activities your dog dislikes, such as getting her nails cut, or as an incentive to overcome a fear, such as riding in the car.

Your dog should eat small amounts of peanut butter, and only on occasion, because it is a high-fat food. In addition to avoiding peanut butter that contains xylitol, look for varieties with low sugar and salt content.

Can Puppies Eat Eggs?

Yes. Puppies can eat cooked eggs—scrambled or hard-boiled and then chopped. They shouldn’t eat raw eggs, which may contain salmonella. They also shouldn’t eat eggs cooked with an abundance of butter, milk, or cheese, as these rich foods can cause stomach distress and weight gain. Avoid giving your puppy a taste of eggs cooked with garlic, onion, chives, or scallions, which are toxic for dogs. And as is true of other treats, moderation is important.

Feeding your dog properly begins in puppyhood. The ideal food for your rambunctious puppy is high-quality puppy food. Occasionally, your puppy can eat other foods and dog treats—but keep them to a minimum. This way, you can watch your puppy grow and enjoy her joyous tail wagging when you offer the rare treat.

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