Getting a new puppy is exciting, and as much as you want it to stay the size of your palm, puppies grow up faster than you think. The growing months are the hardest and require the most attention. If you want your puppy to grow into a healthy adult dog, you have to be mindful of their nutrition which includes serving the right size and food type.
That’s why today we will share when to switch puppy to adult food. Every puppy is different and matures at a different age, so make sure you read till the end to find out when is the right time to switch for your puppy.
When to Switch Puppy to Adult Food?
When your puppy reaches the ideal body weight of an adult dog, it’s time to switch to adult food. The duration will obviously depend on the breed and your feeding style.
For instance, smaller breeds reach their ideal adult weight sooner than large breeds.
Here is a quick chart on how long it takes for each breed to reach the ideal adult body weight:
|Small Breed (adult weight <10kg)
|9-12 months of age
|Medium Breeds (adult weight 10-25kg)
|12-15 months of age
|Large Breeds (adult weight 25-40kg)
|15-18 months of age
|Giant Breeds (adult weight over 40kg)
|21-24 months of age
If you feel like your puppy isn’t growing as fast as it should, don’t hesitate to consult a check-up with your veterinarian. You can also monitor their growth every two months to ensure that their development isn’t stunted.
Just as undereating isn’t good for your puppy, especially during the months of rapid growth, excess feeding too can lead to many health issues later.
How to Switch Your Puppy to Adult Food
Just because your puppy has reached the age to eat adult food doesn’t mean you can change their diet overnight. A sudden change in diet, whether it’s the type of food or serving size, can cause an upset stomach, especially the ones with gastrointestinal issues. So make sure the change is very gradual.
Take at least a week to get them accustomed. Here’s how you can approach it:
- Add 25% of the new to the diet while keeping the result of it the same. Wait for 2 days and see how your puppy adjusts to it.
- Next, introduce a 50-50 portion of the new diet and the old diet. Give your puppy another two days to adjust to it.
- Once you see your puppy is adjusting well to the new food, let it eat the new diet. You can still keep about 25% of the old diet for the next two days.
- Finally, on day 7, you can introduce the new diet completely. There are almost negligible chances that your dog will be struggling with stomach issues after 7 days.
The reason why you should make the diet change very gradual is that dogs often have sensitive digestive systems, so if you abruptly change the food, they might get diarrhea, which is fairly common in dogs.
Although this diet-induced diarrhea is fairly common among dogs and settles within a few days, why would you put your furry friends through the trouble?
Why Do Puppies Need Special Food?
You might wonder why puppies need special food. Instead of going through the trouble of getting them used to adult food later, you can simply start with adult food in smaller portions.
However, puppies grow much faster in the first year of their life. Instant growth requires extra nutrition that only puppy food can offer.
See for yourself — it takes 18 years for us humans to reach adulthood. On the other hand, puppies get to adulthood in 1-2 years. Within these two years, their weight increases by 40 to 50 times. Without proper nutrition, the growth might not happen gradually or evenly, leading to physiological issues in the later years, such as incorrect bone growth or joint problems.
Puppy food is designed to deliver the right amount of nutrition to your little furry buddies so that they neither grow too fast nor too slow — just at the right pace.
What Does Puppy Food Have That Adult Food Doesn’t?
Adult dog food just doesn’t contain all of the proper nutrients needed for a growing puppy. Although it may seem like an inconvenience, it is very important that your little pup receives the proper nutrition early in life.
The three most important things that a growing puppy needs in its diet are protein, calcium-phosphorus ratio, and adequate energy levels.
The energy content looks after overall growth and well-being, protein helps muscle development, and the calcium-phosphorus ratio is important for bone growth— all important components for a healthy puppy.
Puppy food contains each of these components in the right amount. For instance, the calcium-phosphorus ratio should always be between 1:1 and 1.8:1. Else, it could lead to poor bone growth or conformational issues.
How Much Should You Give to Your Puppy?
The next thing you need to know is the serving size for each meal. Puppies, during their growing stage, require a little extra nutrition, and the amount of food they’ll need depends on their ideal weight as adults.
For example, a labrador puppy will require more food than a pug puppy. In simple terms, large dog breeds require more food, even as puppies.
Speaking of feeding frequencies, puppies are just like human babies — they need frequent and smaller meals.
For example, smaller puppies aged 4 to 12 weeks need 3-4 feedings per day. As they grow older, the number of feedings reduces to twice a day up to 12 months. Once they are adults, they can continue with two meals a day. Just remember to split their total calorie requirement in half instead of serving the whole portion in one meal.
While this chart serves as a baseline, we still recommend you ask your vet or the breeder about the nutritional requirements of your puppy, just to be more accurate.
So, now you know when to switch puppy to adult food. 1 dog year is equivalent to 7 human years. This means your little canine friend will go from puppy to adult dog before you realize and there won’t be any time for you to experiment with their diet and see what works for them.
So keep this guide in hand to ensure you transition to adult dog food at the right time for proper development — neither too soon nor too late.