Puppy Basics: Feeding Tips for the First 6 Months

The timeline for feeding your new puppy changes rapidly over the first six months. Learn what and how you should feed your puppy based on the key development milestones she will experience.

Close-up of dog’s tilted face

Why Is It Important to Know Milestones for Puppy Development?

Due to breed differences and animal individuality, it is impossible to predict exact dates for a puppy’s growth and development milestones. However, by using the following milestones as a guide for healthy growth, developmental problems can be spotted — and possibly prevented — early on. By knowing these milestones, you’ll also know when your puppy is ready to begin weaning.

 

Puppy Developmental Milestones


Age Milestone
7-10 days old Puppies double their birth weight.
Puppies begin to urinate and defecate on their own.
10-18 days old Puppies attempt to stand.  
Puppies’ eyes begin to open.
Puppies’ ears begin to open.
18-21 days old Puppies hear and respond to noises.
Puppies begin to walk.
3 weeks old Begin weaning process for orphaned puppies.
Puppies begin responsive vocalization.
Deciduous (baby) teeth will begin erupting.
4 weeks old Begin weaning process for mother-fed puppies.
3–6 months old Puppies’ adult teeth erupt.
Small black-and-white dog lying on a sandy beach with a ball
 

How to Wean Puppies with IAMS™

When your puppy is ready to begin weaning (at around 4 weeks for mother-fed puppies and 3 weeks for orphaned puppies), use this step-by-step process:

  1. Introduce a small amount of water in a shallow dish. Most puppies will play in the water; however, within four or five days, your puppy will begin to develop drinking skills. Some animals might require longer periods for training, so don’t be discouraged if your puppy resists bowl training.
  2. Begin mixing an IAMS ProActive Health™ Smart Puppy Original food with water. Be sure to provide a separate dish for fresh water.
  3. Gradually increase the amount of soft food while decreasing the amount of water in the mixture until your puppy is eating soft food only.
  4. Repeat the process, mixing the appropriate dry IAMS puppy food with the soft food, and then increase the solid food while decreasing the soft food until the transition is complete.

The entire process should take approximately three weeks.