It’s been ingrained in many dog parents that certain breeds, dogs of certain sizes, and health conditions will require specialized food. How true is this? It’s a good question because sometimes these specially formulated dog foods are extra expensive. We’re going to look at adult dog food vs puppy food today to see if there really is a need to feed puppy food, or can you skip the transition altogether?
Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?
Puppies can eat adult food, but the question isn’t if they can, but if it’s good for them. We usually do not suggest feeding puppies adult dog food because it isn’t nutrient-dense enough to meet their needs. In fact, you shouldn’t switch your dog from puppy food to adult food before he fully matures. The maturation period is different for some breeds, and the telltale sign is the size.
In general, small dogs reach their full size much faster than medium, large or giant breeds. The rule of thumb is it takes a year for dogs to reach their adult size, but a toy to small breeds may only need 6 to 8 months, while large to giant breeds may need 1.5 years to 2! The puppy food is meant to aid the puppy’s growth until he slows down closer to the adult stage, which is when adult food comes in.
It’s worth it to note that spaying and neutering your dog will also affect when you should switch puppies to adult food because the procedure usually decreases your pup’s energy levels. Less energy means less nutritional requirements. Of course, it’s always a good idea to work with your vet and ask when your dog should make the switch.
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Why Do Puppies and Dogs Need Different Food?
Puppies need different dog food, or puppy food, because of different nutritional demands compared to adult dogs. As a general comparison, a growing puppy will need more calories, fat, and protein content compared to an adult dog who has already reached its full size. If you do not switch your dog from puppy food to adult dog food when your pup reaches maturity, it can lead to weight gain.
That being said, puppy food is also split into different categories. You have a small breed puppy diet, ones especially tailored for large breeds, and even breed-specific food. All of these recipes are tailored to meet a canine’s nutritional requirements.
The same goes for adult dogs and their diets. You can find little adult dog food for small breeds, adult maintenance food, and even prescription and diet formulas. Eating adult food isn’t as simple as finding a recipe your dog likes, it’s also finding one that is crafted to give him what he needs.
What about Food for All Life Stages?
As said, there are plenty of dog foods out there, with puppy and adult formulas being just two of them. When your dog gets to his senior years, you will then need to switch to adult dog foods meant for seniors. We’re sure many pet parents out there have seen food labeled as suitable for all life stages. So, what about this type of food? Does it apply to puppies?
Dog food for all life stages is created for most healthy dogs, and that includes puppies and adults. However, since we mentioned the different dietary requirements puppies have compared to adults, we would still strongly recommend feeding puppy-specific food.
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How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food?
The transition from a puppy diet to an adult diet is one that we must all go through if we raise our canine companions from the beginning. There is a rule when you’re transitioning dogs from any diet to another, or even introducing new ingredients and supplements into the diet, and it is “slow and steady does it”.
The switch or supplementation should be done slowly over three days to a week. Making a sudden switch or introducing too many new things at once are the ingredients for causing an upset stomach.
Let’s take the switch all puppies and adult dogs need to make when they mature. Start by just adding as little as 10% or as much as 25% of the new food and mixing it in with 75% to 90% of the old food.
Slowly add 10 to 25% new food to the old until you have a full bowl of new food. Monitor your pup during this process and increase or decrease the amount of new food at a pace that’s suitable for your dog.
Things to Look For in Food For All Dogs
There are so many brands out there each advertising to be the best, so which one should you choose? You should feed your puppy what you feel is the best. There are experts with different schools of thought. There are those who advocate for pet foods that are compliant with the WSAVA guidelines, which include, Hills, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, and Purina. But there are other professionals that believe fresh food or raw food is the way to go.
There are, of course, others that feel that the ingredients in dry kibble are the most crucial factor involved in assessing the quality of dog food, which cancels out some of the WSAVA brands. There are valid points for each side of the argument, so our opinion is it comes down to this:
You can’t go wrong with fresh ingredients that are not harmful to your dog, and if you aren’t sure about what is suitable for your pooch (peas, legumes, and potatoes are a hot debate), then switch up the diet every few months. Giving your dog a balanced diet is never a bad idea with portions of meat as the first few ingredients from clearly labeled sources, and combine it with veggies, fruits, and micronutrients.
If your dog has food allergies or a special need such as extra joint protection, then you can go ahead and identify foods that are more suitable among the ones that are properly balanced. As a reminder, it’s also important to look at the quality of the snacks you feed your pooch as well.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you feed a puppy adult food?
Yes, you can feed a puppy adult food but it is not recommended. A puppy should eat puppy food because it is specially formulated to meet its nutritional needs. When the time is right, it’s also vital to make the switch from baby food to adult dog food.
What happens if I feed my puppy adult dog food?
While there isn’t any immediate danger, feeding your puppy grown dog food could lead to malnutrition in severe cases and not provide enough nutrients during your pup’s development. It’s best to feed the right food at each life stage.
Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. This is a concept that is true in many instances in life, and feeding a young pup an adult diet is one of them. A dog’s health starts with eating the right food, and the sooner you begin with the right diet the better. Maybe a suitable recipe will cost more, but it could save you thousands of dollars in vet bills later on in life.