Beagle puppy waiting for the command to eat dinner.

When To Switch Your Puppy To Adult Dog Food?

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 14th January 2024

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.

Related: AAFCO vs PFIAA: Dog Food Standards Comparison Australia.

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.

“Growing animals are acutely susceptible to nutritional imbalance and the results of seemingly small errors in formulation can be lifelong” -  Cailin R. Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN - DVM 360 (2)

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)

  • Small breeds: 9 - 10 months of age
  • Medium breeds: 12 - 15 months of age
  • Large breeds 14 - 24 months of age 

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.

Growth Rate

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.

Related: The Difference Between Adult & Puppy Food.
Related: What To Feed Your Puppy In The First 6 Weeks?
Related: What To Feed Your Puppy at 8 Weeks Old?

Signs It's Time to Switch

Recognising the signs that your puppy is ready for adult dog food is crucial:

  • Steady Growth: If your puppy's growth rate has stabilised and they are close to their adult size, it may be time to transition.
  • Dental Development: By the age of 7-8 months, your puppy's adult teeth should be fully developed, making it easier for them to chew adult kibble.
  • Energy Levels: Puppies are known for their boundless energy. If your puppy is starting to show signs of decreased puppy-like hyperactivity and is calmer, it might be time for adult food.

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:

  • Mix the Foods: Begin by mixing a small portion of the new adult dog food with your puppy's current food. Start with a ratio of 25% adult food to 75% puppy food.
  • Gradual Increase: Over the course of a few weeks (ideally), gradually increase the proportion of adult food while decreasing the amount of puppy food.
  • Monitor Digestion: Pay close attention to your puppy's digestion during this transition. Look for any signs of upset stomach, diarrhoea, or changes in appetite.

My Conclusion

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.


  1. “Selecting the Right Pet Food”. Association of American Feed Control Officials. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  2. Heinze, C.R. August 01, 2011. “Feeding growing puppies (Proceedings)”. DVM360. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  3. Hart, H. January 23, 2023. “When Should You Switch From Puppy to Adult Dog Food?”. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  4. Mansourian, E. August 15, 2023. “Puppy Feeding Fundamentals”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved September 18, 2023.

Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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