How Long Should My Dog Eat Puppy Food: When to Switch
Congrats, you have a new furry friend joining your family! When you first get a puppy, there are plenty of things to keep in mind to ensure that your new pet gets acclimated to her new life. This requires a bit of adjustment on the owner’s behalf, too, as getting a new dog is a learning process. It’s completely normal if you have some questions regarding taking care of your new pet.
It’s common for people to wonder what food they should give their new puppy and when they should transition them from puppy to adult food. If you’ve had any of these questions pop up, don’t worry!
At Sundays For Dogs, we know how important it is to ensure that your pup is getting the care they deserve. That’s why we’re here to help walk you through those first few puppy months.
Today, we’ll help provide you with an answer to your question “how long should my dog eat puppy food?”
Let’s get started -- there’s plenty to learn!
Difference Between Puppy and Adult Food
First, you might be wondering what exactly the difference between puppy and adult dog food is. The truth is, while there are some similarities, there are definitely some major disparities. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your pet is getting the right food for her age.
If you stop feeding your furry friend puppy food too early, she’s not going to have the opportunity to soak up all those precious nutrients she must get in her youth. This could hinder her overall well-being.
The major difference between puppies and adult dogs when it comes to food is that puppies need to ingest more protein, fat, and several minerals than adult dogs do. Picking a food that has enough protein is crucial to ensuring that your pup grows properly. This will support the formation of her muscles, which largely occurs during puppyhood. In addition to this, choosing a food with Omega-3 in it (and other valuable fatty acids) will help support your dog’s overall health. This is because this is associated with promoting healthy eye and brain development.
That’s not the only thing you have to take into consideration, however. You should also examine the calorie disparity between food designed for adult dogs and puppies. Because of the significant amount of energy that growing requires, puppies will require more calories than adult dogs—even if they’re around the same size.
That’s why, even when your dog transitions to adulthood, you should prioritize feeding her a food that is focused on giving her the nutrients she needs to live a healthy life.
At Sundays, this is central to our mission.
How to Make the Transition
Once it’s time for your furry friend to make the transition from puppy food to adult food, it’s important to do it correctly to minimize belly pain.
If you switch your dog’s diet too quickly, it can cause them gastrointestinal distress, which is fun for no one. Puppy food is designed to help your dog grow, and adult food is designed to help maintain your dog’s health. Be sure your pet is ready for the transition before you begin.
The best way to transition your pet’s food is to do so gradually. This will give your dog time to adjust to the new food. The transition, ideally, should occur in a span of five to seven days. The way that it works is you start by incorporating only a bit of the new food and slowly add more.
Luckily, there’s a schedule that you can follow that will encourage a seamless transition. Taking your time with switching foods will limit the chances that your dog will experience diarrhea, a decreased appetite, or nausea as a result.
- Day 1: Mix 25% new food and 75% old food
- Day 3: Mix 50% new food and 50% old food
- Day 5: Mix 75% new food and 25% old food
- Day 7: 100% new food, don’t include old food
If you follow that timeline, your pet’s transition from puppy to adult food will be much smoother. In addition, you should make sure you’re switching food on the right timeline for your pet -- not too early, not too late. This depends largely on the type of dog you have.
How Breed Affects the Puppy Food Timeline
Breed impacts your furry friend in a plethora of ways. Yes, this includes the timeline for transitioning from puppy to adult dog food. The process will look different for someone with a Husky versus a Chihuahua. That’s why learning about your individual pet is crucial.
A general rule of thumb is that when your dog has reached about 90% of their anticipated adult size, you can switch them over to their adult food.
First, we have toy and small breeds. These are the tiny little dogs with bold personalities, such as Chihuahuas and Pomeranians. They’re suitable for apartment living; toy breeds usually weigh up to ten pounds, and small dogs weigh up to 20. These excellent little additions to your family can start transitioning to adult food around nine to ten months of age.
Next, we have medium breeds. This includes dogs such as Basset Hounds and Springer Spaniels. These pups usually weigh between 20 and 60 pounds when they’re fully grown. You should start transitioning your medium breed puppy when she’s about 12 months old. This will give her the correct amount of time to acquire the nutrients they need.
Up next, we have the large dog breeds. Family favorites such as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers both fall in this category. Large breeds can weigh up to 100 pounds when they’re full grown! These pups should continue to chow down on puppy food until they’re 12 to 16 months old to give their bones and joints time to develop correctly.
If you have a Newfoundland or Great Dane (or a pup of comparable size), you have an Extra Large dog. Similar to large dog breeds, your dog is going to need puppy food for a bit longer than a smaller breed. This will allow her to grow to the best of their ability. Also, an XL dog will take longer to reach her full size than a small dog, so this is another reason why puppy food will be needed longer.
XL dog breeds are usually upwards of 100 pounds and should eat puppy food until they’re approximately 12 to 16 months old. Still, some XL/Giant dogs should continue eating their puppy food until they’re 24 months. Essentially whenever your dog is done growing is when they should stop eating puppy food.
Additional Tips for Feeding Your Puppy
We have some more tips in store on feeding your puppy! First, let’s talk about how often you should feed your pup. There are a few general guidelines to follow when you’re determining how often to give your puppy food.
During the first 6-12 weeks of their life, you should feed her four times a day to help her soak up all the nutrients she needs. This can decrease to three times daily when she reaches three to six months of age. Finally, after she turns one, she qualifies as an adult dog, and feedings can be reduced to twice daily.
There are some ways to tell that your puppy needs more (or less) food than what you’re providing her with. If you’re giving your dog too much food, she’ll likely leave some extra in her bowl. And if you can see your dog’s ribs, that means that she’s going to require some additional food. If you have any questions about your dog’s specific dietary requirements, talking about it with a trusted vet can help ease any concerns.
Finally, we want to stress the importance of giving your dog food that’s going to appeal to your pet’s taste buds while also providing her with essential nutrients. That’s why we created Sundays. Our food is human-grade and requires zero prep. Your dog will love it because it tastes like a treat.
But that’s not all: it’s also packed with antioxidants, free of common allergens such as dairy and chicken, and supports easy digestion. You’ll never find any sketchy ingredients in our formula.
As a new pet owner, getting a puppy is equal parts exciting and overwhelming. It can be difficult to figure out how much you should feed your pet—or how long you should keep her on puppy food. That’s why we’re here to support you and your new puppy on this journey.