When you’re raising a puppy, the quality of their food is one of the most important things you can control. Puppy food is specially formulated to meet a youngster’s needs.
Canines go through a rapid growth cycle during their puppy face. They will multiply in size before your eyes! Inside their bodies, they’re going through a ton of major changes, too.
Because of that rapid development,a puppy’s nutritional requirements are very different.
Typically, puppy food is more nutritionally dense than adult formulas. Plus, it has more protein and an overall higher calorie count. This formulation ensures that your pup has all the fuel they need to grow up healthy.
So… When is it time to switch to adult food?
This is a question that many puppy owners have. These tiny canine companions grow up so fast that most owners don’t even realize the changes until they see a side-by-side comparison.
While there are some general guidelines to help you get a good idea of when it’s time to switch, there’s no definitive answer.
All dogs are different, so you need to be able to make the decision based on your dog’s needs.
Here are a few things to help you determine when your precious pup is ready for adult food.
Also read: When to Switch a Puppy to 2 Meals a Day
Size and Breed
Puppies are ready to play with the big dogs and switch to adult food when they’ve reached about 75 percent of their adult size. Up until that point, your puppy has been growing very quickly.
By the time they have reached three-quarters of their estimated adult weight, the growth process slows down a bit.
Think of it as their “teenage” years. They’ll continue to grow, but the changes will be very subtle moving forward.
This stage happens at different times for every dog. For the most part, you can get a good idea of when this happens based on the size classification of your dog’s breed.
Toy Breeds – after 5 to 7 months
Also known as teacup breeds, toy dogs are those precious pooches who will only weigh between 10 and 12 pounds when fully grown.
These dogs are ready to switch to adult dog food products only 6 to 7 months after birth.
Small Breeds – after 9 to 11 months
Small dogs are those that weigh between 20 and 25 pounds. You can expect to make the switch at 9 to 11 months of age.
Medium Breeds – after 12 to 14 months
Dogs that weigh between 25 and 50 pounds when fully grown are classified as medium-sized dogs. You can start considering switching to adult food at 12 to 14 months old.
Large Breeds – after 15 to 18 months
Large dog breeds are those that weigh 50 to 75 pounds.
They take a bit longer to grow. Thus, it’s a good idea to wait until 15 to 18 months to switch to adult formulas.
Giant Breeds – after 18 to 24 months
Giant dog breeds take the longest of all. These dogs weigh over 80 pounds when they reach full maturity.
You’ll want to wait between 18 and 24 months to switch to adult foods.
Activity Levels and Fitness
Your pup’s physical fitness also affects when they can move onto adult foods. Active dogs use up a lot of energy every day.
They rely on the boost of calories that puppy foods provide to stay thriving. Thus, you might want to wait a bit longer.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have dogs that spend most of their time lounging around the house. Even as puppies, some dogs live sedentary lives and don’t need a ton of energy.
These pups are usually ready to transition to adult formulas a bit sooner than their more active counterparts.
Sometimes, you can just tell by a dog’s attitude that they are no longer a puppy.
Young pups are all over the place. They’re so full of energy and always ready to play. They can be a huge handful!
If your pup is suddenly a bit more mellow and wanting to spend more time lounging around, it could be a sign that they are reaching maturity.
Dogs will also spend a bit longer sleeping as they get older, so keep an eye on their sleep patterns.
Related: When Will my Puppy Calm Down?
Your Pup’s Personal Preference
There’s no better way to tell if your dog is ready for the switch than to watch their eating habits. As we mentioned earlier, puppy formulas have more calories than adult ones.
If your dog being a bit pickier and leaving some food in the bowl after eating, they may not need all of those extra calories anymore.
Skipping meals and overall dissatisfaction are also good signs.
Many dogs know when they’re ready to move on. They might not be able to identify those changes themselves, but you can interpret their behaviors for them.
How to Switch to Adult Dog Food
Before you do anything, choose a high-quality dog food that meets all of your furry friend’s nutritional needs.
Pay close attention to the ingredients list and select a formula that’s safe, healthy, and delicious.
Setting your dog up on good food products early on can make all the difference as they age.
When it’s time to transition, it’s important to do so slowly.
Changing foods suddenly could lead to some severe stomach troubles. Diarrhea and constipation are pretty common.
You can minimize the effects by mixing the two foods together.
Start by feeding them a mixture that’s 3 parts puppy food and 1 part adult food.
Provide this meal for a few days until everything is all clear within their system. Then, do a 50/50 ratio. Stick to this mixture for a few days yet again.
Finally, do 1 part puppy food and 3 parts adult food. After a few days of that, your dog should be ready to eat adult food exclusively.
As you transition, consider limiting their meals to just twice a day. Usually, puppies will eat multiple small meals a day to maintain energy levels.
As an adult, two meals are recommended. Serve one in the morning and one in the evening.
If you’re still unsure about when the right time to switch over to adult dog food, consult with your vet. They can help you make that decision based on your pup’s growth pattern and overall health.
While many owners hate to see the puppy years end, think of this transition as the start of a new era. Your dog will be calmer, more confident, and ready to take on the world.
Also Read: Best Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomach Issues