When To Switch Your Puppy To Adult Dog Food?
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting and heartwarming experience. From those playful antics to the adorable puppy eyes, it's easy to fall in love with your furry friend. As a responsible pet owner, you want to ensure your puppy grows up healthy and strong. One crucial aspect of their wellbeing is nutrition, and the question of switching to adult dog food is one of many that will pop up during the course of your puppy’s life.
So when is it the right time to switch a puppy to dog food? Let’s discuss.
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Understanding Puppy Nutrition
Puppies, much like human infants, have specific nutritional requirements that differ from those of adult dogs. These unique needs are vital for their growth and development.
According to the AAFCO, food suitable for puppies need to have higher levels of protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus to support their rapid growth and energy requirements (1). Puppy food is specially formulated to meet these demands, and offers nutritional boosters like DHA for brain development and calcium for strong bones.
Now, there is such a thing as dog food suitable for all life stages. These are typically higher quality foods that meet the nutritional requirements for puppies as well as for adult dogs.
Where special care needs to be taken, though, are large breed puppies. If you are a proud parent of a large puppy, your best bet is to stick to puppy food that’s designed specifically for large breeds. These formulas typically have fewer calories and less calcium in order to ensure balanced growth.
In short, puppies are a bit more demanding when it comes to diet. But getting it right during the developmental phase is very important, which is why puppy formulas are more carefully formulated to ensure that.
Once your puppy’s growth phase is almost done, you can safely switch to adult food. But, the timeline for this is not the same for every dog and it depends on a few factors. Below, we discuss how to determine the right time for switching your puppy to adult dog food.
What To Consider Before Making The Switch
“Puppies will be ready for adult food when they reach about 80% of their adult size. But aside from breed size, you also need to consider whether they are spayed or neutered or if they are a highly active dog that needs more calories.” - Hannah Hart, DVM for PetMD (3)
So how will you know, exactly? Here is what to consider:
Age and Breed Size
The timing of the transition largely depends on your puppy's age and breed size. Smaller breeds tend to mature faster than larger ones. Here is a rough timeline for when your dog might be ready to switch to adult food. (3)
However, as you can see, there is still a lot of variation within those categories. It’s also not enough to blindly follow the guidelines for your dog’s breed.
Pay attention to the rest of the factors below and you’ll be able to tell when your puppy is ready with more precision.
Pay attention to your puppy's growth rate. If they are consistently gaining weight and seem to be coming close to adult size, it's a sign they might be ready for adult dog food.
Weight and Body Condition
Monitor your puppy's weight and body condition (4). Ideally, your puppy should maintain a healthy weight with a visible waistline. If they start looking overweight, it might be time to switch to adult food, since puppy food is usually much more calorie-dense.
Your Vet’s Advice
Always consult your veterinarian for personalised advice. They can assess your puppy's unique needs and provide guidance on the best time to make the switch.
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Signs It's Time to Switch
Recognising the signs that your puppy is ready for adult dog food is crucial:
It's important to note that these signs are general guidelines, and each puppy is unique. Consulting your veterinarian is the best way to ensure the switch is made at the right time for your furry friend.
Transitioning to Adult Dog Food
Once you and your vet decide it's time to switch, it's essential to do so gradually. Abrupt changes in diet can lead to digestive upset. Here's a recommended transition plan:
Related: Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?
In the journey of raising a healthy and happy puppy, knowing when to transition from puppy to adult dog food is a crucial step. Understanding your puppy's unique needs and monitoring their growth are essential elements in making this decision.
Remember, every puppy is different, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer. By paying close attention to your puppy's development and seeking professional guidance, you'll ensure that your furry companion gets the nutrition they need to thrive as they grow into a wonderful adult dog.
- “Selecting the Right Pet Food”. Association of American Feed Control Officials. Retrieved September 18, 2023. https://www.aafco.org/consumers/understanding-pet-food/selecting-the-right-pet-food/
- Heinze, C.R. August 01, 2011. “Feeding growing puppies (Proceedings)”. DVM360. Retrieved September 18, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/feeding-growing-puppies-proceedings
- Hart, H. January 23, 2023. “When Should You Switch From Puppy to Adult Dog Food?”. Retrieved September 18, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/when-should-you-switch-puppy-adult-dog-food
- Mansourian, E. August 15, 2023. “Puppy Feeding Fundamentals”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved September 18, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/puppy-feeding-fundamentals/