There are as many brands of dog food as there are types of dogs. It is important to decide on the right brand and type of food for your pet in every stage of his or her life. Puppyhood is one of the most important stages, and your dog’s food needs special attention.
You should soak kibble for young dogs in water for fifteen to twenty minutes before each meal. This allows the kibble to soften so it won’t hurt your puppy’s teething gums. It also makes it easier for him to chew and digest the food, especially when he is still becoming accustomed to solid meals.
To raise your puppy to become a happy and healthy adult dog, you must provide her with the proper nutrients and food. In this article, we will discuss soaking kibble for our four-legged friends and why it is so important. Read on to find out more about the stages of canine growth and diet.
A Brief Run-Through of Puppy Growth Stages
If you are getting a young dog, you have likely done plenty of research about the different stages that canines go through as they grow. Here we will briefly review these stages and how they pertain to feeding your new pet.
- 1 to 2 weeks – In the first two weeks of a puppy’s life, not too much is going on. These tiny animals are blind and deaf for these initial 14 days. Instead, they concentrate on drinking their mother’s milk and growing stronger.
- 3 weeks – The third week is a big one for the babies. Their eyes and ears open, and their deciduous (baby) teeth start to come in. Over the next five weeks, these sharp little teeth will get longer, and the mother will slowly stop producing milk.
- 4 to 8 weeks – During this time, the baby teeth are coming in. The young dogs may start to eat some solid food as soon as four weeks old, depending on their tooth size. The mother will slowly stop producing milk over these four weeks and start weaning her pups.
- 8 to 12 weeks – This is the most common time for dogs to be taken to their new home. Once there, they will have no access to their mother’s milk. Once these canines are living in their new house, they will have to be fully adjusted to eating solid food.
- 3 to 6 months – When your pet is three months old, his adult teeth may start to come in, and he will lose his baby teeth. This is commonly known as the chewing phase, as young dogs will chew almost anything they can get their paws on to try and relieve their itchy gums. By six months old, most pups will have lost all of their baby teeth.
Why You Should Soak Your Puppy’s Kibble
For the first three weeks of their life, dogs will live off of their mother’s milk. As soon as their first set of teeth start coming in, their mother will start weaning them and introducing them to solid food.
The breeder who is raising the animals will soften some kibble in warm water. This kibble is likely the first solid food that they will eat. It is extremely important to soak their kibble to soften it, for various reasons.
Puppies Do Not Have All Their Baby Teeth Yet
When a dog is four weeks old, it is only starting to get its baby teeth. However, she still needs to learn to eat solid food. Puppy teeth are not very good at chewing tough things, and even less so when they are not fully grown in.
By soaking a dog’s food in warm water, you soften the food and make it mushy. Just like human babies, soft, mushy food is much easier for a young animal to eat.
A Puppy’s Baby Teeth Are Fragile
The baby teeth of a dog, also called the deciduous or milk teeth, are very small and extremely fragile.
According to Mt. Shasta Animal Hospital, “Deciduous teeth are fragile and easily broken. Broken deciduous teeth are painful and become infected quickly. Infection can travel up the broken tooth and damage the developing adult tooth still under the bone.”
Feeding your young canine dry kibble can lead to broken or damaged deciduous teeth, leading to very complicated and expensive dental issues.
- Puppies are still learning how to chew. When dogs begin to eat solid food, they are completely new to the act of chewing. Small pups trying to eat dry and hard dog food will have a much more difficult time than a dog who has a soft bowl of soaked kibble.
- Hard food can hurt puppies. Not only can hard, dry kibble break a young dog’s baby teeth, but it can also hurt their gums and stomach. His body is still learning to digest solid food, and dry kibble is an extreme example of that. Adding water to your dog’s food makes it easier to chew and digest.
- Adding water increases hydration. You can lead a dog to water, but you cannot force him to drink. Our four-legged friends are particularly at risk for dehydration. If you soak his food in water, he will absorb more H2O through his food, and you will decrease the likelihood of him becoming dehydrated.
- Warm water releases yummy aromas. Pouring warm water on your dog’s kibble will release the smells in the dog food. Since dog food is dried, the warm water heats the ingredients and releases the smells that are not normally very strong with dry food. This smell can make the kibble much more attractive to your dog. Puppies especially will be excited about the delicious smelling food.
Soft Food Is Less of a Choking Hazard
While soft food isn’t impossible to choke on, it is much easier to cough up. By soaking your dog’s food in kibble, you increase the likelihood of him surviving a choking spell.
Tips for Soaking Kibble
Even though soaking kibble for your puppies is good, there are certain things you should take note of.
- Do not add too much water. It is important not to add more water than the kibble can soak up. If you do, the kibble will expand, but it will still be sitting in water. Your little one could choke on the excess liquid while trying to eat the food.
- Let the kibble sit. If you are soaking kibble for your pet, it needs to sit long enough to get soft. Simply adding water to your dog’s food and putting it down is not effective. As with adding too much water, your dog could choke on the liquid while eating the solids. Let the kibble sit long enough to soak up the water, and soften.
- Do not let the kibble sit too long. Never let the food sit for more than 30 minutes. The addition of warm water to dry food promotes the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria. Fifteen to twenty minutes should be plenty of time for the kibble to soften.
Soaking your pet’s kibble is one of the best things you can do for her. This is especially true when your dog first comes home, as she will likely just have finished weaning off of her mom’s milk and is still getting used to eating solid food.
Even though soaking your dog’s food is great when she is a puppy, you do not want to keep it up forever. Hard kibble is beneficial to clean your dog’s teeth, so be sure to ask your vet or breeder at what age you should switch your dog to dry food.
- Embryology: Dog Development
- SFGate: Soft Food For Infants
- Mt Shasta Animal Hospital: Puppy Dental Problems
- AKC: Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs
If you would like to book an appointment with an online dog trainer, or for more information please visit the How I can Help page.