Tuesday, July 16, 2024

When Should Dogs Start Eating Adult Food

Why Puppy Food Is Vital For Young Dogs

When Should I Start Feeding My Puppy Like An Adult

Puppy food plays a vital role in a dogs proper development. Your puppy needs food that contains a high number of calories and is dense in nutrients during their growing years. This is what helps them become big and strong dogs.

If they dont get the right kind of food, they could develop health issues down the line. Fortunately, your vet will most likely recommend a specific brand of puppy food that suits their specific breed.

But if not, the general rule is to opt for the highest-quality brand you can reasonably afford. Do your best to stay away from the discounted dog food commonly found at big-box grocery stores.

The number one rule when shopping for puppy food is to read the ingredients label. You should find that real meat products and healthy veggies are listed as the top ingredients. Less desirable brands typically have corn or other fillers as primary ingredients. The protein content is also normally much lower and of poorer quality than that of premium dog food.

And thats not good at all.

Your puppy needs food that is high in protein and calcium to support optimum growth. So, be sure to keep this in mind when hunting for the best puppy food.

What About Organic Puppy Food

There is no official definition for organic pet food yet, although you may see some pet foods labeled this way. The U.S. Department of Agricultures National Organic Program, which regulates the use of an organic label, is weighing a November 2008 recommendation from its standards board and is expected to issue rules soon.

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Puppyhood is so much fun! But eventually, pups grow up.

The fun doesnt end with puppyhood, though. If anything, your friendship will grow even deeper with each year of having your dog by your side.

During this transition into adulthood, you may be wondering when does my puppy need to eat adult dog food?

Read on for more information on making this important change

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Chart Your Puppys Weight And Growth

  • There are growth-and-weight charts available in print and online. Weigh the puppy weekly and record his progress, comparing him to breed-appropriate weight charts. Adjust his food intake to achieve an average rate of growth.
  • Weighing a dog, even a squirming puppy, is easy. Just weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding the puppy. Subtract the differencethats the puppys weight. Voila!
  • Dont worry about an ounce or two either way no two dogs, even within breeds, are built exactly alike.
  • A young dog carrying too much weight has an increased risk of orthopedic problems, due to stress on immature joints. Obesity can also lead to diabetes, diseases of the heart and other organs, and general lethargy.

Making The Switch To An Adult Dog Diet

When Should I Start feeding a Puppy Adult Dog Food?

If you feel that its time to transition your puppy to an adult diet, you should first consult your vet. Theyll be able to best tell you when your particular pup is ready to go. But once they give the green light, its important to make a gradual transition.

You can do this by mixing a small amount of adult food into the puppy food increasing day by day until no puppy food is left. At this point, your dog will have stopped eating puppy food entirely.

This transition will help your dogs metabolism slowly adjust to the nutrients and calorie amount that is present in the new formula. It also helps to prevent any gastrointestinal issues that may arise.

Featured Image: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock


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Why Transition From Puppy To Adult Food

Puppies require different nutrients and calories than adult dogs. Puppy-formulated foods typically have higher protein and fat to help them grow. They also often include DHA, which is also in mothers milk.

Once your puppy is fully grown, they dont need as many calories. If you continue to feed puppy food to an adult dog, it could result in the dog gaining excess weight.

When To Switch To Adult Dog Food

Dogs under 12 months of age are typically referred to as puppies while dogs over 12 months are considered adults. As a general rule, puppies can be safely switched to adult dog food when they reach 80% of their expected adult size.

However, just because your puppy is technically of adult age, doesnt necessarily mean hes ready for adult dog food. There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to determining when to switch to adult dog food, primarily your puppys breed size. For small breed dogs thats typically somewhere between 9-10 months, while for medium breeds and larger dogs, it might be closer to 12-18 months.

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At What Age Is A Dog Considered An Adult

A dog is considered to have reached adulthood once musculoskeletal growth is complete and the skeletal growth plates have closed. This can occur anywhere from 8 months of age to 18 months of age, depending on your dogs breed and size. Small breed dogs tend to reach maturity sooner, usually around 8 months of age.

On the other hand, large and giant breed dogs take much longer to finish growing and may not reach adulthood until well over a year of age. If youre unsure of your dogs breed, a good rough estimate is to transition to an adult diet around 1 year of age unless your dog is particularly large. If youre still not sure, your veterinarian can help you determine the best time to make the switch, and he or she can even take x-rays to determine whether your dogs growth plates have fully closed, indicating musculoskeletal maturity.

When To Only Feed Puppy Food

When Should Puppies Start Eating Food?

During the first 12 months of life, a puppy should be fed strictly puppy food. This refers to a diet that is specially formulated to meet his nutritional needs. Puppy food usually comes in the form of dry kibble but is soaked or mushed until gradually the dog is given plain dry puppy food.

Smaller breeds begin this transition at about 7 to 9 months. Larger breeds of dogs can do it at 12, 13, or even 14 months. After a dog has reached the age of one year old, most dog owners are already feeding their puppys adult food in adult portions. Just keep in mind, do not rush this procedure. It is always best that puppies stay on puppy food a bit longer than not long enough.

When Do Dogs Stop Feeding Their Puppies?

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Whats Wrong With Adult Dog Food And Why Cant I Give It To A Growing Puppy

Technically speaking, your pup wont seriously suffer if fed adult dog food. That said, there are important differences in the ingredients and nutritious value between adult dog food and specialized puppy formulas which well discuss below. Furthermore,puppies often have more sensitive stomachs than adult dogs because their digestive system is still developing. Thats why its so important to provide high-quality, easily digestible foods to help your pup grow big and strong.

What Kind Of Puppy Treats Should I Give

Many pet owners like to reward their dogs with treats, but its best to limit them. Because puppies need so many nutrients to grow, its important to give them food that provides complete and balanced nutrition. A puppy should get most of their calories from puppy food rather than from treats, which typically dont provide complete nutrition.

Aim for no more than 5% of calories from treats, say nutrition experts at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Choose treats that are the right size for your puppy. A Yorkshire terrier, for instance, doesnt need an extra-large dog biscuit. And avoid table scraps, which teach your puppy at a young age to beg for treats at the table and can cause digestive upset and pancreatitis, a serious illness.


Consider giving other types of treats to deepen the bond with your puppy. Healthy snacks like bits of carrot, green beans, or bell peppers give your puppy something to crunch without many calories. And remember, in your puppys mind, spending time with you is the best treat of all.

Play is a treat, training is a treat, learning tricks is a treat, Buffington says. Dogs are a pack species, and they want to be a member of the pack. Anything a member of the pack does with them is positive reinforcement.

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How Much Puppy Food Does Your Dog Need

Determining how much puppy chow your dog needs can be a bit tricky. Puppies dont just slowly become big dogs. They experience massive growth spurts on a week-by-week basis.

So, a puppy eating only half a cup of food one week may graduate to a full cup the next!

This is dependent upon several factors including your puppys size and breed. Typically, this process of feeding your pup more and more continues until their fifth month. After which, their appetites tend to stabilize. However, this is still breed-dependent.

For example, Labrador Retrievers never outgrow their propensity to eat everything in sight. However, its an endearing trait most owners come to love.

Smaller breeds are often much more reliable when it comes to developing self-control when eating. Often, they will stop eating when they are full and satisfied.

However, large dog breeds tend to be overeaters, which is why they need to be kept on a consistent feeding schedule with portion control in mind.

One way to check if your pup has had enough food is by examining its ribs. If you can feel the rib cage but not see it, it means theyve had enough.

Dont keep feeding them until they start looking like a furry slug.

But if you do accidentally overfeed your dog a time or two, dont worry. Just take them for a long walk to burn all those calories after theyve awoken from their food coma.

When & How To Switch From Kitten Food To Adult Cat Food

Loss of Appetite in Dogs

Around your kittens first birthday , its time to switch to an adult cat food.

We recommend transitioning to adult food over a 7- to 10-day period to help avoid any digestive upset. Heres how:

  • Days 1-2: Serve 3/4 of the normal amount of kitten food and add 1/4 of the new adult cat food.
  • Days 3-4: Serve half kitten food and half adult cat food.
  • Days 5-7: Serve 1/4 kitten food and 3/4 adult cat food.
  • Days 8-10: Serve only the new adult cat food.

If your cat resists eating the new food, slow the transition and give her more time before you increase the amount of adult food. Consult with your veterinarian for additional tips on making the switch from kitten food to adult cat food.

For more tips and information on kitten nutrition from our experts, see our Pet Expertise page.

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How To Choose The Best Adult Dog Food

You should choose an adult dog food formula from a dog food company that has undergone AAFCO feeding trials. This means that the specific formulation of the diet has been fed to dogs to make sure there are no deficiencies. As surprising as it may seem, many dog food companies make their food based on a recipe and never feed it to actual dogs before sending it into the stores. You want to choose a pet food company that invests in scientific research and consults with veterinary nutritionists to provide a dog food that is specially balanced for the pets lifestage.

You will also want to pay close attention to the AAFCO statement on the adult dog food formula. If the food is labeled as an All Life Stage food, the formula may have more fat and phosphorus than your adult dog needs. Discuss with your veterinarian what is best for your dogs specific needs.

I’ve Heard Conflicting Advice About Feeding My Dog

Feeding your dog does not have to be mysterious. By recognizing a few key concepts and attributes of dogs we can create a very reasonable feeding plan for them.

Dogs are creatures of habit. We can use this fact to our advantage by creating a regular feeding schedule and sticking to it.

A regular feeding schedule helps with house training puppies, as well as adult rescue dogs who have not been taught household manners. Puppies generally need to relieve themselves within 10 to 15 minutes of eating a meal. By linking a ‘potty stop’ with a meal we not only allow ourselves to predict when the pup needs a trip outside, we allow the puppy to learn to associate the urges to urinate and defecate with being in the appropriate location. This is a very important step in the house-training process.

Feeding an adult dog at regular times provides the security and predictability of a routine. Meals become a cornerstone event of the day around which other activities are added. A feeding routine helps your dog cope when there are changes in the household .

“A feeding routine helps your dog cope when there are changes in the household.”

A feeding routine makes a necessary food change easier. When your dog is used to eating at the same times each day, his body becomes conditioned to expect food at those times. Hunger can be a great motivator! If the stage is set for increased hunger followed by meals at regular times, then transitioning to a new food will often be seamless and straightforward.

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How To Transition From Puppy Formula To Adult Formula Or All

When that one-time ball of fluff is done growing, its time to transition to an adult formula. Sudden changes in food can be upsetting to a dogs gastrointestinal system. For that reason, many brands recommend a phased approach, starting with a small ratio of adult food to puppy food, and gradually increasing that adult ratio.

However, if youre feeding your puppy NutriSource brands from the start, the phased approach isnt necessary. in particular NutriSource chicken and rice recipes transition exceptionally well from puppy to adult formulations.

If youre feeding your dog a brand that does require a phased approach, heres a basic formula to follow:

  • Day 1: 80% puppy formula to 20% adult formula
  • Day 3: 50-50 mix of puppy and adult formula
  • Day 5: 20% puppy formula to 80% adult formula
  • Day 7: 100% adult formula

Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food

How Long Should Dogs Eat Puppy Food

Kibble, wet food, home-made or ready-bought treats, fresh or processed meat, and all of those supplements…it can be confusing sometimes to know what to feed your dog to ensure they thrive. Cant we just give the same food to all of our pooches?

Although this sounds tempting, there is a reason why food is labelled for adults or puppies only. In fact, since they grow up during such a short period of time , a puppys nutritious needs change quickly during the important life stages, thus in order to thrive and grow strong, they require a specific balanced and high-quality diet – any maybe this new puppy starter kit!

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What About Foods For All Life Stages Are They Safe For Puppies

In addition to foods that are labelled as being appropriate for growth and reproduction or adult maintenance,you may also see foods bearing a label that indicates they are appropriate for all life stages.

These foods are appropriate for most healthy dogs , so you can go ahead and feed them to your puppy.

These foods are designed to meet the requirements for growth and reproduction and adult maintenance. But because the nutritional requirements for puppy foods exceed those of typical adult foods, it means these are essentially puppy food.

Because they have higher protein and fat content than many adult foods, you will want to keep an eye on the body weight of adult dogs fed such recipes. But as long as your pooch stays nice and svelte, theyre fine for adults too.

What A Puppy Needs From Its Diet

A puppys body is going through significant changes as it grows rapidly, whatever size or breed it is. Puppies require greater calcium in their diet than adult dogs to support the proper development of their skeleton.

They also need more protein, as they are rapidly building muscle and other body tissues. Their food should be more energy-dense than a fully grown dogs, as they are unable to eat as much but need plenty of energy to support their developing physiology.

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Timeline For Small Breeds

Most small breed dogs are fully grown by the time they reach a year of age. At that point, you will definitely be feeding your own dog more sophisticated meals. But how do you work up to that point? Take a look at this guide for more information:

  • 6-12 weeks old: You should, at this point, be feeding your little fuzzy friend puppy food. You will likely be starting out on wet food or dry food mixed with warm water about 3-4 times a day until your pup is 12-13 weeks old. At this point they are able to be fed dry puppy food on its own.
  • 3-6 months: You will still feed your pup puppy food, but you will be able to lessen the frequency of feeding times or lower the portion sizes.
  • 7+ months: Now is the time to begin feeding small dogs adult food if they seem ready to take that leap. Always ask a vet first because each case can be different, but you should be good to go!

Signs Its Time To Switch From Puppy To Adult Food

When Should I Start Feeding an Adult Dog Senior Dog Food

Once your dog reaches a certain weight or age, youll need to transition to adult dog food. Please note that these are rough estimates for weight and ages, and you should consult your vet to determine whats best for your dog.

  • Toy breeds : around 9 months old
  • Small breeds : around 12 months old
  • Medium breeds : around 12 months old
  • Large breeds : 18 to 24 months old
  • Giant breeds : 18 to 24 months old

Its best to ask your vet about your dogs diet. And if youre unsure about your dogs breed, consider doing a canine DNA test.

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