When & How to Switch From Puppy to Adult Dog Food
Having a puppy can be exciting but also a little stressful! But, knowing when to switch your pupper from their puppy food to adult dog food doesn’t have to be. So we asked our in-house pet nutrition specialist Alex Camara, MSc to help us fill in some blanks.
The Short of it:
It’s best to switch your pup’s food from puppy to adult when they reach maturity. This can vary based on the size and breed of your pup but in general, nutritional needs will begin to change between 9-12 months.
The Long of it:
Why a Puppy Formula is Beneficial:
Puppies need more calories and nutrients than adult dogs. It’s no secret that your puppy is growing and developing fast. Go to bed one night wake up and they seem so much bigger! Since they’re growing for about the first year of their lives your pup needs a growth food packed with all the proteins, and other essential nutrients!
When Do I Know it’s Time to Switch from Puppy to Adult Food?
Switching from puppy to adult food can occur at different times depending on the size your dog will be when they reach maturity or adulthood. For example, a giant breed will take longer to be fully grown than a small or medium breed.
General recommendations are
- Small breeds: you can make this change around 9-12 months of age.
- Medium breeds around 12 months.
- Large breeds between 12 and 16 months.
- Giant breeds can take up to two years to reach maturity.
How do you know when your dog is done growing?
Since the optimal time to switch your pup is when they’ve reached maturity it’s key to know when they finish growing. So, how do you know?
To be sure about this, you can talk to the shelter, breeder or rescue group where you adopted your dog. They can give you information like how old your puppy is, or help you to obtain further information on the breed(s). You can also talk to your veterinarian about this.
Why is it so important to switch your food from puppy to adult?
Since your puppy is growing, they need more nutrients and calories than an adult dog needs. Puppy foods are higher in protein and fat to support your puppy’s growth. They also contain important nutrients such as DHA, EPA and arachidonic acid, which are essential fatty acids for growth.
So, it’s important to switch when your pupper isn’t a puppy anymore.
Once a puppy reaches maturity, it’s no longer in the growth stage of life and they don’t need as many calories. Mature dogs also require different levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. So, switching your puppy from its growth formula to an adult maintenance formula is important to ensure excessive weight gain doesn’t occur.
An “all life stages” food is another option some pet food companies offer. This food is essentially a puppy food but, the company has the proper recommendation of how much a puppy should eat versus how much an adult dog would eat. For instance, the company may recommend smaller portions for a mature dog compared to a puppy.
The Best Way to Swap Your Pup’s Food
When you are ready to switch from puppy to adult food a gradual transition is recommended. Planning this transition over a period of a few days is always best rather than an abrupt switch. Doing this over a seven-day period is the gold standard. This is to avoid the possibility of an upset stomach from the change in formulation and ingredients. You can do this by mixing the puppy and adult food and slowly increasing the ratio of adult to puppy food.