Dog Articles: Wellness

How and When to Switch from Puppy to Adult Dog Food

Puppy, adult and senior: all three stages are important times in your furry pal’s life when it’s appropriate to ask your veterinarian about your dog’s diet.

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Growth” foods necessary at the puppy stage have higher protein levels and calorie counts to meet your pup’s developmental needs. But once your pup is six to 12 months old those needs change.

That’s usually when your puppy is nearing his adult height and can transition to adult food. Spaying or neutering usually occurs at this age as well, lowering your dog’s need for increased energy; hence a reason to switch from puppy to adult dog food.

Breed size matters

Switching to adult food coincides with maturity, but due to the large variety of breeds, different dogs mature at different rates. Smaller breeds tend to mature faster than larger breeds:

• Dogs up to 30 pounds mature around 10 to 12 months of age.

• Some toy breeds can mature as early as seven to nine months old.

• Medium breeds, up to 80 pounds, mature between 12 to 16 months.

Large breeds can mature at 12, 13, or even 14 months old.

Giant breed dogs (over 80 pounds) can take up to two years to reach full maturity.

Your veterinarian can recommend the best time to start feeding adult food based on your dog’s specific needs. Since obesity is the most common nutrition-based issue for canines, it’s crucial adult dogs no longer eat puppy food, which can also cause orthopedic problems in older dogs. Instead, serve your best pal high-quality food formulated for adult maintenance.

No more three squares a day

Growing pups who have higher metabolism and energy needs usually eat three times a day. When you switch your dog to adult food, you’re not only cutting back on protein-dense, calorie-rich food, you’re cutting down on the amount of meals.

Most pet parents feed two half-portions of adult food when their dogs are over a year old.

Eyes on your furry friend. Not his food.

When gauging portions, watch your dog’s body not his bowl. Food that’s vanished without a trace or left behind isn’t the issue. Your dog’s nutritional needs are determined by his individual metabolism and body type, not a pre-designated amount of adult food.

If your dog starts skipping meals or picking at food he would otherwise devour, it might mean he’s ready to switch from a puppy to an adult diet. The higher calories in puppy food may make him feel full with less of a need to eat. 

If you’ve already switched to an adult formula, it could mean your dog just needs fewer servings per day or less food at each meal.

Switch slowly

The recipe for successful food transitioning is to do it gradually. Mix a small amount of the adult food with your dog’s favorite puppy formula and slowly increase the amount over a week, while decreasing the puppy food.

By the end of that week you should only be feeding your dog adult food. Changing his food gradually makes it less likely he’ll experience any gastrointestinal issues.