They grow up so fast, don’t they? Suddenly, your little puppy doesn’t look like the tiny dog on the puppy food label anymore. It’s not always clear when is the best time to switch over from puppy food, and while many other kinds of food can be good for your dog, adult dog food will be the basis for your pup’s diet. What new type of food you choose has a big impact on your dog’s health, and the process of changing over to adult dog food isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
The reason that the label on your dog food doesn’t specify an exact time to switch from puppy to dog food is because the timing isn’t the same for every dog. Obviously, every dog is different and will need to make the switch at different times. But basically, you want your puppy to finish growing in size before you transition him or her to adult dog food.
Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian in East Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com told The Active Times that this period often falls between 6 months and 2 years. “For smaller breed dogs, I recommend switching from puppy to adult food around 6 to 8 months of age. Large breed and especially giant breeds of dogs are continuously growing until they reach around 2 years of age,” Ochoa said.
Since switching your dog over to adult dog food is dependent on their breed, their age, and their size, it doesn’t hurt to ask your veterinarian. “Asking what is the best time to switch from puppy food to adult food is a question I get daily,” Ochoa says. So if you’re not sure if your puppy is done growing, don’t be afraid to ask. A great time to ask this is at puppy vaccine appointments or after their spay/neuter procedure.
However, switching over from puppy food to adult food isn’t as simple as running out of one and starting with the other. Such an abrupt switch can give your puppy stomach issues. “I recommend feeding three-quarters old food and one-quarter new food for three days, then half and half for three days, then three-quarters new and one-quarter old for three days, then fully the new food. Starting a new diet can cause some GI [gastrointestinal] issues with some dogs. If your dog has a very sensitive stomach, sometimes even switching slower will help them ease into the new food without GI problems,” Dr. Ochoa said.
When choosing a new dog food, make sure you look at ingredient labels carefully, talk to your veterinarian about any special needs your dog may have and make sure you’re choosing the correct food for your breed and their size. Make sure you follow the instructions for how much food to give your dog, too, as you may need to give your dog a different amount of food than you did for puppy food. You don’t want to have to put your dog a diet in the future.
While switching your puppy over to adult dog food isn’t too difficult, doing it the right way can make sure that your pup gets the biggest benefit and doesn’t have any stomach troubles in the process. Start your research for a new dog food here by looking at the healthiest dog foods — and some you should avoid.