When To Give Puppies Water For The First Time?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

As puppies are now being introduced to solid food at the end of week 4 they should be given water first. I say solid food but in reality the best way to introduce water to a three-week-old pup is to use it to soften the dry kibble.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “When To Give Puppies Water For The First Time?“.

Here is what this research is all about if you have just had a litter of puppies (so to speak) and you are wondering when and how to introduce them to drinking water. 

The issue of puppy water introduction is one that many people are confused about and many mistakenly believe that puppies should be introduced to water much earlier than they should.

As I will explain in the next section the puppies get everything they need from their mothers milk for the first three weeks of their lives.

Before I get into puppies and water let me briefly mention their mums liquid needs: because in the first few weeks these are far more crucial. 

Your (lactating) bitch needs you

As a general rule I recommend that you do not worry about the puppies’ access to water in these initial weeks but you should worry about their mothers access to water.

The water will need to be fresh and clean and she will need to drink huge amounts of it.

Lactating bits (or dogs feeding their puppies) should eat up to 25% more food and probably drink more than 25% more water than usual.

Be sure to think about more than just lots and lots of freshwaters. 

Think about adding some sort of enriched supplement to their water goats milk lactose-free cows milk or chicken broth

Can puppies drink water at 2 weeks old?

No. All puppies need during their first three weeks of life is their mothers milk. X babies will eat up to X times per day by sucking on the nipples of their mother. 

Week 4 is the best time to introduce puppy food and water. The process is called “weaning” because from this point on puppies will no longer be dependent on their mother for food.

At 3 weeks of age and up to 6 weeks of age puppies will have a mixture of puppy food (dry or canned) water and their mothers milk.

In an ideal world you wouldnot want them drinking milk from their mother at 6 weeks old. It is no longer necessary nutritionally and most mothers will have had enough by now. 

As their sweet little babies have nasty sharp teeth that will really hurt if they try to drink their sweet little babies will be sore and exhausted.

While some puppies will still try to feed on their mother hopefully she will be grumpy enough to say “no” in a clear and authoritative manner. 

When to give puppies water for the first time?

As puppies are now being introduced to solid food at the end of week 4 they should be given water first. I say solid food but in reality the best way to introduce water to a three-week-old pup is to use it to soften the dry kibble.

We have done it in the past by boiling some water in the kettle (which sterilizes it) and then waiting for the water to cool until it is warm before pouring it over the kibble until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. 

The importance of waiting until the water is warm and not hot cannot be overstated- it is crucial to start preparations at least 10 to 15 minutes in advance. 

When the soft kibble is ready it can be given to the puppies.

There are three advantages to warm water:

  1. The puppies are being introduced to water stealthily by you
  2. in order to make their food softer and easier to eat. 
  3. By adding warm water to kibble the smell becomes much stronger making it more appealing.

How long should you keep adding water to their food?

The warm water should be added to their kibble until they are at least 10 weeks old. They should be ready to eat dry kibble at about ten weeks of age. 

Several commentators say you can stop adding water at 8 weeks while others say wait until 12 weeks.

It is okay to keep the consistency the same for the first couple of weeks or so- slightly wetter than mashed potatoes- and then you gradually decrease the amount of water as you go from week 6 to week 10.

Be guided by your puppy or puppies. Make the soft food slightly drier if they are eating it faster than it can be put on a plate because chewing more will slow down their consumption. 

What should I do if one of the puppies doesn’t eat the puppy mash?

You might find one or two puppies from a litter who are just not interested in eating the puppy mash for the first few days after introducing it. 

You do not have to worry about this too much its fine. 

But if after three or four days the puppies are still not refusing the mash then an intervention is necessary.

I believe that stage 1 of this intervention is for the puppy to feed itself. It should be separated from the rest of the litter so it does not have to deal with all the hullabaloo and it can have some puppy mash on its own plate.

When a litter is feeding some puppies are overwhelmed by the noise and the chaos.

If this approach does not work place some of this mash on your fingertips and place it in front of the puppys nose. If that does not work you can gently smear a small amount on its nose in order to get it to lick it off. 

I have never had a puppy who has needed so much prompting. In a few feeding sessions I repeat these interventions just to make sure that the puppy is eating enough and is confident enough before they can join the eating frenzy with their littermates.

Should the puppies have a separate bowl of water?

You should provide your puppies with a few plates of water even if they are getting enough water from the mash.

Plates? Most puppies will be unable to reach the lip of a proper dog bowl because of its height.

Should I take the plates of water away?

The water plates should be discarded at the same time as the empty food plates- or at least a few minutes later. 

Can I make the puppies drink water if they just play with it instead?

Let them play with the water for the first few days. They get enough water from their food to stay hydrated so they do not need water for that purpose.

The water is currently on a plate but you are introducing it to them.

You have to play with something to get used to it so relax and enjoy the circus! Fortunately they can not make their living area any messier than it already is after a feeding session.

Why can’t I just leave the water down all the time?

The water bowls need to be emptied as soon as the food plates are cleared because if the water is left in place it will very quickly become dirty which increases the risk of infection.

It is possible for puppies to have manic fits after feeding and they may charge through a plate of water instead of going around it.

Nevertheless it is still too dangerous to leave it down if the puppies do not use it as an obstacle course since they might also pee or poop on it.  

What should I do if my puppy gags or chokes?

During week 6 to week 10 as you transition your puppies to drier food you might experience a couple of choking episodes.

The good news is they’re done and dusted within seconds and in my experience they happen for two reasons.

First of all puppies gag when their food is too dry. As a result they havenot learned how to chew it as much as they should so it is still too big to swallow. 

The puppy mash initially may have been too dry due to being dried out too soon. If this happens make it slightly wetter once again. 

A puppy that wolfs down its food can sometimes “gag” and the thing to do with these puppies is to give them their portion of food bit by bit so that they consume it gradually.

When should a puppy have access to a water bowl all of the time?

You should give your puppy constant access to water throughout the day starting around week 8.

At this moment three significant events are taking place. Around this time most kittens will have moved to their new homes and so the environment will begin to calm down.

As fewer puppies run around your house water bowls are less likely to be used as props in a crazy game. In fact they are more likely to be used for a quiet drink when one is thirsty.

To keep hydrated enough puppies will need to drink additional water as their kibble mash becomes drier. 

In addition as a puppys awareness and bladder control grow poop and pee are not strewn around the house so there is less danger of water being contaminated.

Why do puppies need access to fresh and clean water?

Up to 60% of an adult dogs body is made up of water the same as that of a human.

Therefore it only makes sense that dogs of all ages need access to water since water is life.

The reason that puppies need access to fresh and clean water is that it is much less likely to contain harmful germs which will keep them safe.

They can be funny about drinking water; for example they will not drink water that isnot their own. Dogs will drink more water if it is fresh. 

Are there germs in a dog’s water bowl?

You might say that is fine and dandy but we’re talking about a dogs water bowl here not a glass of water.

Is there any harm in my puppys water bowl occasionally having a little grubby water in it? Well it seems there is quite a lot of harm. 

Several studies have found that a dogs water bowl may contain some major germs such as bacteria salmonella and MRSA.

Thats concerning enough but did you know that these germs can also spread between dogs and their owners? This is no joke. 

What material should the water bowl be made out of?

In the same study researchers found that some materials are safer to use in dogs’ water bowls than others. 

My guess is that germs thrive more in ceramic or plastic bowls than in stainless steel bowls because ceramic or plastic bowls are easier to scratch mark and scar and it is in these places that germs hide.

This brings us to our final question which is.

How do I clean a puppy’s water bowl properly?

Your puppys bowl should not just be rinsed out with clean water or hot water.

The dish soap you should use should be antibacterial and the water should be hot.


It has been a pleasure for me to write this research about a puppys relationship with water and I hope that you enjoyed reading it as well!

Let me know if you have any questions or wonderful stories about very young puppies and water.

If you want to read more about puppies-related updates read here: Puppies.

When To Give Puppies Water For The First Time? (Watch Video)

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