As a puppy parent, you probably have lots of questions about how to best care for your new dog. Do I need to switch their food as they age? How do I know when it’s time for a change? What if I don’t switch the food at all? Will my puppy get sick?! The good news is that switching from puppy food to adult dog food isn’t very difficult, and you probably won’t need to rush into it. Yes, we know it’s hard to not be worried about our furry friends’ health—they’re like tiny babies! But puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs, so there’s really no reason to switch them over until they’ve grown into little doggos in their own right.
Start transitioning your pup at about 6 months old.
Start transitioning your pup at about 6 months old. Start by mixing in some adult dog food to their current puppy food. Gradually increase the amount of adult food and decrease the amount of puppy food until you have completely switched over to adult dog food.
The best way to tell if your puppy is ready for this change is by their size and activity level. If they are large enough, feeding them adult food should not cause any problems or discomfort; if they are smaller than normal, take extra care when switching diets so that you don’t overload their system with nutrients too quickly (this could lead to diarrhea or vomiting).
Try a 50-50 mix of puppy and adult dog food at first.
When you switch to adult dog food, ideally you’ll want to do so gradually. Before you start mixing, it’s a good idea to weigh your puppy and figure out how much food he should be getting in total each day. If he needs 3 cups of puppy chow per day and you’re switching him over to 2 cups of adult chow per day (a 30% reduction), then that’s the amount of new food that should be added on top of the remaining 1 cup of puppy chow.
Try mixing up the two types at first—this is best for both your puppy’s digestive system and immune system. Start by adding just 25% or 50% new stuff; if this goes well over several days, slowly increase until all his meals are 100% new stuff!
Slowly increase the amount of puppy food as you decrease the amount of adult food.
When you do switch, it’s important to do so gradually. The process is a bit like when your baby is learning to eat solid foods and gets constipated—they’re not ready for everything at once, and might get sick if you give them too much at once. Same goes for puppies: they can’t handle an abrupt change in their diet or else they’ll get sick.
Start by mixing the two kinds of dog food together before adding more adult dog food each day until it’s all gone. This way, your puppy won’t be overwhelmed by changes in diet and will have time to adjust accordingly (which should take about a week).
When you first start feeding your dog adult-size servings, give her a mix of both types of kibble until she gets used to eating just the new one without any problems like vomiting or diarrhea. Then gradually phase out her old diet so that after about three weeks she is only getting the new food with no traces whatsoever left behind from what she ate as a puppy.
You can tell when your puppy is ready for adult dog food by their size and activity level.
This is one of those things where the answer is “it depends.” If your puppy is still growing, they need the higher calorie content of puppy food. If your pup is no longer growing and has stopped teething (usually at about six months), then it’s time for adult dog food.
If you’re still a little confused about whether or not your dog has reached adulthood, look at how much energy they have. If you find yourself having to walk them more often than usual, or if they seem sluggish during playtime, try switching over to adult food.
No matter what, you should always consult with your veterinarian about what type of dog food to feed your puppy. They can help you find a balance between cost and nutritional benefits that’s right for both you and your pup. And if at any point in the process they feel like something is off, they’ll know how best to help!