How And When To Switch From Puppy To Adult Dog Food

How And When To Switch From Puppy To Adult Dog Food

Introduction to How and When to

Switch from Puppy to Adult Dog Food

When you first bring your puppy home, it’s hard to imagine that one day it will be bigger than you are.

Actually, it may seem impossible, but the truth is that day will come eventually, when it does, you’ll need to start feeding your puppy adult dog food.

This is a big decision and one that requires a lot of thought.

The puppy is growing and he needs food that’s formulated specifically to meet his nutritional needs during these important years.

You’ll also need to decide whether to switch him to adult dog food slowly or to make the switch quickly.

How do you know whether it’s time to switch your dog to adult dog food?

Many people make the switch when their puppy hits six months, but some dogs are ready sooner.

The best way to determine if your puppy is ready for adult food is to carefully monitor his weight.

We keep our puppies on puppy food until they are 12 weeks old, which is roughly around the same time we settle them in their new homes.

While we don’t usually run into any problems, some puppies have been known to develop problems digesting the ingredients in puppy food.

If you are the owner of a small puppy, one of the most important decisions you have to make is choosing what kind of puppy food to feed it.

While puppies are growing, their bodies are changing so rapidly that they need a specialized diet to meet their energy and nutritional needs.

However, as soon as your puppy reaches the age of six months, his body has stopped growing and his nutritional needs become relatively steady.

At this point, it’s time to switch him from puppy food to adult dog food.

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When To Switch A Puppy To Adult Dog Food

You should switch to adult dog food when your puppy is anywhere from 18 months to 24 months old.

Large or giant breed puppies take a little longer to reach maturity, and many of them are still growing until they turn two years old.

If your puppy is a small or medium breed

Both small and medium breed puppies are considered adults at about one year of age, so your dog’s birthday indicates when to switch from puppy food.

Toy breeds can be an exception to this.

Some are considered adults at nine months of age, dog weight varies.

Small breed puppies are those who weigh less than 20 pounds at maturity.

Medium breed puppies weigh between 21-50 pounds at maturity.

If your puppy is a large or giant breed

You should switch to adult dog food when your puppy is anywhere from 18 months to 24 months old.

Large or giant breed puppies take a little longer to reach maturity, and many of them are still growing until they turn two years old.

Large or giant breed puppies’ weight varies greatly, so it doesn’t offer as good insight on when to switch from puppy food to dog food.

Puppies become adults at 12 months of age and should transition to adult dog food to ensure they are receiving proper nutrient levels for adult dogs.

If you have a large breed dog, talk to your vet first, as they may recommend keeping them on their puppy food a few months longer to ensure they get the proper calories to grow to their full adult form.

Remember large and small breed puppies should be transitioned to the appropriate breed-size adult dog food to ensure that their special needs are met.

When mixing the old and new food together, it is important to continue to feed the proper amounts, so be sure to use measuring cups and do your best to get the instructed calorie count correct.

Since maturity and adulthood can be difficult to predict, you can talk to the shelter, breeder, or rescue groups where you adopted your dog as well as talking with a veterinarian to be certain of when to switch a puppy to dog food.

The importance of switching lies with nutrition.


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Why Transition From Puppy Food

To Adult Dog Food?

When your puppy is growing, he needs more nutrients and calories than an adult dog, which is why puppy foods have higher levels of protein and fat to support growth, as well as nutrients like DHA, an omega fatty acid found in mother’s milk.

Once your puppy reaches adulthood, he doesn’t need as many calories.

Rich puppy food can quickly lead to excessive weight gain for adult dogs, so the transition is important.

Sometimes owners note weight gain and then ask an expert when to switch a puppy to dog food but a proactive approach is better for puppy health.

Because of that faster metabolism of youth and the nutritional demands of growth puppy food is formulated with more calories, fat, protein, and certain other nutrients than adult dog food.

All of this is very important during puppyhood.

It’s the right nutrient profile to help your puppy grow up strong and healthy for most adult dogs serious athletes and pregnant or lactating dogs may be exceptions, puppy foods provide a far higher calorie density than they need.

Unless you really cut back on their quantity of food (which could leave them feeling hungry all the time), there’s a good chance your dog will gain weight if they continue to eat their puppy food as an adult.

Considering the health risks that come with obesity such as arthritis and increased risk of orthopedic injuries, diabetes, cancers, and other health problems it’s best to keep your young adult pup at a healthy weight, right from the start.

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How To Change Your Dog’s Food?

Switching your dog’s food abruptly can cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite.

Any time you decide to change your dog’s food, you should transition to the new diet gradually in order to give your dog’s system time to adjust to the change.

Ideally, these transitions should happen over 5-7 days.

During this transition, you will gradually incorporate more and more of the new food by mixing it with your dog’s current diet.

For most dogs, a good diet transition will look like this:

Day 1: 25% new diet and 75% old diet.
Day 3: 50% new diet and 50% old diet.
Day 5: 75% new diet and 25% old diet.
Day 7: 100% new diet.

Some dogs with sensitive stomachs, food allergies, or other gastrointestinal diseases may need an even longer transition period.

The key to a good diet transition is monitoring your dog’s individual response.

If, at any point during the diet transition, your dog displays concerning signs such as changes in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should proceed more slowly.

And if you have transitioned gradually and your dog is still experiencing stomach upset, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

In some cases, it may be necessary to choose a different diet.

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Adverse Food Reactions in Dogs

An adverse food reaction is a blanket term used to describe a number of different food-related illnesses in dogs such as food allergies, food intolerance, and other gastrointestinal diseases.

Many people will describe their dogs as having “food allergies” but this is not always accurate.

True allergies involve a very specific response from the dog’s immune system and this is not definitively diagnosed in many cases.

Thus, it is more accurate to refer to these events as adverse food reactions.

Adverse food reactions can present with gastrointestinal symptoms, cutaneous symptoms, or a combination of the two.

Gastrointestinal signs of an adverse food reaction include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in appetite.

Cutaneous symptoms include a wide range of signs such as itching, skin inflammation, hair loss, and many different types of rashes.

There are many other illnesses that can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to have your dog evaluated by your veterinarian if these symptoms occur.

If your veterinarian suspects your dog is having an adverse food reaction, they may recommend performing an elimination diet trial.

This means your dog will eat only a prescription hypoallergenic diet and no other food sources for at least eight weeks.

If your dog’s symptoms resolve during the diet trial, this can be a sign that food was the culprit.

At the end of the eight-week trial, your veterinarian may also perform a challenge trial by reintroducing certain foods into your dog’s diet to see if they provoke another reaction.

The challenge trial can help you and your veterinarian determine exactly which foods are problematic for your dog, so you can avoid them in the future.

Check the puppy Poop

Monitor your dog’s digestive health is to pay attention to the quality of the stool.

While minor variations in stool color and consistency are normal, any major changes can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.

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Special Considerations and Additional Tips


Pregnant or nursing dogs need energy-dense foods with increased calcium content so be sure to transition them during this special time to puppy food.

During pregnancy or nursing, large breed dogs should be switched to regular puppy food, not large breed puppy food.

Health Reasons

If your veterinarian has recommended therapeutic dog food for a specific health condition, please be sure to discuss transitioning to the new dog food in detail.

There could be some special considerations and suggestions as far as the transition schedule to ensure success.

Transitioning Between Dry and Wet

Whether your dog is getting older and needs softer food or you’re just looking to provide a different texture and taste, transitioning between dry and wet dog food should follow a similar transition schedule of mixing in the old with the new.

If you decide you just want to use canned dog food as a topper to their normal dry food, be sure to check with your vet on the proper amounts, so as to not go over his daily caloric intake requirements.

For whatever reason you need to update your dog’s food, switching food while mixing in some of the old food is the best way to ensure your switch is a successful one.

Remember that whenever you’re making a decision about your pet’s health, you should consult your veterinarian and adhere to the recommended feeding guides on your pet food’s packaging.

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