How long do you feed a dog puppy food? If you have this question on your mind then it’s possible that your puppy is beginning to lose the baby cuteness and has started inching closer to the big one. Or maybe you’re simply a proactive parent who just needs to know.
Well, when it comes to things like this, the best vet nutritionists can do is to give a general date. The truth, however, is that how long you should feed your dog puppy food would depend on your dog himself.
What’s The Difference Between Puppy Food And Adult Dog Food?
We switch our puppies from puppy food to adult dog food because they’ve aged out of the puppy terrain and, therefore, have different nutritional requirements. This, of course, naturally suggests that puppy food and adult dog food are different in their makeup and function.
The main difference between puppy food and adult dog food is simply that puppy food is growth food while adult dog food is maintenance food.
So, while puppy foods contain nutrients to get your puppy to grow, adult dog foods contain nutrients that help your dog maintain a healthy weight and size for his breed.
A good puppy food should, therefore, be able to provide the necessary nutrients to meet a puppy’s high energy needs. Compare a puppy to its mother and you’d see that it has a long road of growth ahead. Hence, puppy food must contain high-quality nutrients.
Puppy Nutritional Requirements
Here’s what puppies require from the food they eat.
1. Relatively High Levels Of Protein
Most puppy food will have meat as their protein source and the best ones will also contain non-meat protein sources such as lentils, garbanzo beans, eggs, or even quinoa. This way, your puppy is supplied with protein from a wide variety of sources.
The amino acids from these proteins will be broken down in your pup’s body to build some muscle. With time, your pup would have grown all the muscle he needs when he’s an adult. Then you won’t have to feed your pup a special diet anymore.
To understand more about proteins in dog food, click here to read our article on high-protein dog food.
2. Relatively High Levels Of Fat
Please, pay attention to the word “relatively” here. You shouldn’t be in the market for the fattiest puppy food you can find. That’s not the aim. It’s simply that puppies have a higher lipid requirement than their adult counterparts in order to meet up with their energy needs.
Adults, on the other hand, do not require as much fat. Don’t get us wrong, they do require fat but not as much as puppies. This is because they don’t need extra fuel. They only need fats to help maintain their skin and fur as well as maintain some vital organs.
If your dog is currently obese or suffering pancreatitis, then you should be considering a low-fat diet. Click here to read our article on managing canine obesity and pancreatitis.
3. Slightly Higher Levels Of Calcium
Because they are also growing teeth and bones, puppies need a slightly higher intake of calcium than their parents.
4. DHA – Docosahexaenoic Acid
This is an omega acid that promotes the healthy growth of the nervous system as well as the brain. It also helps in eyesight development.
While adults can do with some DHA, it’s not a dietary must-have as with puppies.
5. Smaller-Sized Kibble
Kibble ought to be smaller in size for puppies for obvious reasons. Puppies have not yet developed the strong teeth and wider mouth opening like their parents.
So, in summary, puppy foods are a special diet and shouldn’t be fed to your dog for the whole of his life. If you do that, your dog could get obese and develop other health complications.
It is therefore compulsory for dog parents to learn the puppy feeding timeline so they can make the switch at the right time.
How Long Do You Feed A Dog Puppy Food?
Like we said in the introduction, nothing is set in stone. However, the general rule of thumb is to switch to adult food when your puppy has attained three-quarters of his adult body mass.
For smaller breeds, this means your puppy would be on puppy food for a shorter time in comparison to larger breeds.
So, Shih Tzus, and Yorkies would be ready for adult food earlier than Huskies and Bulldogs, and Huskies and Bulldogs will remain on puppy food for a shorter time than German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers who might require a year or more.
Check out this table below and see if it helps
|Breed Size||Average Grown-up Body Mass||Average Time It Takes To Reach Adulthood|
|Small||20 – 25 pounds||6 months – 1 year|
|Medium||25 – 50 pounds||1 year – 15 months|
|Large||50 – 75 pounds||16 – 18 months|
|Giant||80 pounds +||18 months – 2 years|
Another tip that could help might be to check out other teenage dogs of your dog’s breed and gender for size. That should give you a pretty good idea of how large your puppy would grow up to be.
It will also help you in deciding when to make the switch.
Make sure you keep your vet in the loop. They’ll need to asses your puppy and his body condition score to further help you decide on when you should make the switch.
How To Make The Switch From Puppy Food To Adult Food
When you’re switching to adult dog food, you want to make it a gradual transition. You know, break in your puppy gently. This transition, ideally, should take a number of days. If you make the change sudden and go from 100% puppy food one day to 100% adult food the next, your dog might come down with a stomach upset.
|Day||Percentage of Puppy Food||Percentage of Adult Food|
|3||50 – 75%||25 – 50%|
Just ensure that you observe and monitor your dog during the transition. If he seems to be taking things well, then, after the seventh day, he should be ready for a full-fledged adult diet.
This video further explains what we just explained in this sub as well as the consequences of an untimely transition to adult dog food.
How To Know Your Dog Is Not Taking Well To His New Adult Food
If your dog’s system is not agreeing with the new adult chow, then you might notice a few symptoms as follows.
- Bloating and gassiness.
- Inappetence (loss of appetite).
- Stomach upset.
- He eats really slowly.
There are many reasons a dog might not be taking well to adult food. He might be reacting to a particular ingredient in the new food or the transition might just be rough on him. Whatever the case, the best person to consult is your vet.
Choosing The Best Adult Dog Food For Your Growing Pup
Ensure that the pet food company you decide to go with has taken its food through AAFCO feeding trials. Such foods have been fed to dogs and have been confirmed to have no deficiencies whatsoever.
It’s shocking the number of pet food brands around that never feed their pet foods to actual dogs before marketing them.
Also, make sure you read the labels especially the ingredient list and what the AAFCO has to say about the formula.
If you see the tag “All Life Stage” on the food, then it might be best to avoid. Most of such foods usually contain more phosphorus and fat than your dog actually needs.
As usual, discuss with your vet before making any decisions.