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When To Switch From Puppy Food To Adult Dog Food

Your dog’s nutritional needs change throughout their lifetime. The food that helped your once-tiny puppy grow into a thriving adult may no longer be what they need to maintain their best health. Here’s how you can decide when it’s time to graduate from puppy food to an adult formula.

What Are The Differences Between Puppy Food, Adult Dog Food, And All Life Stages Dog Food?
Each year, AAFCO publishes guidelines that pet foods have to meet to be considered “complete and balanced.” For dog foods, there are guidelines for puppy (growth and reproduction), adult maintenance dog food, and food that’s suitable for large and giant breed puppies that will grow to be over 70 pounds.

Growth and reproduction food, or puppy food, is higher in calories, fat, and protein, and other nutrients to meet the needs of growing puppies, and it’s also fed to pregnant and nursing dams.

All life stages dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for a puppy food, but it’s also suitable for adult dogs. It’s a good option if you have multiple dogs and would rather feed them the same diet.

Adult dog food is usually lower in fat, calories, and protein. It’s a good choice for dogs that are done growing. It’s especially ideal for dogs that have been neutered and spayed, as dogs have lower caloric requirements after they have been fixed and seem to be more prone to becoming overweight.

Large breed puppies need fewer calories than other puppies and should not consume too much calcium, as rapid growth can lead to skeletal deformities. They can eat a specialized “large breed puppy food” or a puppy or all life stages food that’s labeled to meet the AAFCO guidelines for large breed puppies.

When To Switch From Puppy Food To Adult Dog Food
Small dogs are fully grown in as little as 8 months, while large breed puppies take up to 24 months to fully mature. If you’re unsure, you can switch your puppy to an all-life-stages dog food, or ask your veterinarian if your puppy is ready to switch.

Large breed puppies should stay on a large breed puppy food or an all-life-stages food that’s approved for large breed puppies for up to 2 years.

Switching too soon may deprive your puppy of the nutrients they need to finish growing, but switching too late has few drawbacks. As puppy food is denser in calories, at worst, it may cause your dog to gain too much weight.

How To Switch From Puppy Food To Adult Dog Food
Any change in your dog’s diet can lead to temporary gastric upset. Transition gradually to a new food to help your dog’s digestive system adjust to reduce the chances your puppy will experience symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

For the first few days, replace 25% of the old food with the new adult formula. If your dog does not develop signs of stomach upset, gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food over the span of a week or two.

If you must transition quickly, for example, if you run out of puppy food, you may be able to change foods cold turkey without gastric upset, though it’s generally not recommended. You can give your dog Probiotic Chewys after each meal as a preventative. Fast Balance paste is always good to have on-hand if your dog gets an upset stomach.