Question from Tracie J Thorne
How old does a pupy have to be before moving them onto adult food and not the PUPPY variety?
Answer from Shanika Winters (Online Vet)
Hi Tracie, thank you for your question regarding the age at which it is best to change a dog from puppy food over to adult dog food.
I will start by discussing a little about pet food and then tie this in with each stage of a pet’s life and its nutritional requirements.
Your pet dog needs a balanced diet to provide its body with all the ingredients (nutrients) to keep it functioning. The basic food components are Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals. Your dog also needs to have fresh water to drink. Pet food that you buy can provide some or in the case of complete diets all the nutrients your pet needs to maintain a healthy body.
Dog food is available in many forms including: tinned, pouches, trays, semi moist and dry nuggets. Which exact form of dog food you choose is a personal choice but may be influenced by how fussy an eater your dog is and the advice of your vet. Some owners may choose to make a home cooked diet and there are also some people who like to feed a raw diet.
If you are unsure as to what is the best diet for your dog then discuss it with your vet or veterinary nurse, they are trained to give nutritional advice and help find the diet that will suit your pet.
At each life stage through from being a puppy through to an adult dog and then a mature dog your pet’s nutritional requirements will change. Puppies are still growing and require a higher protein, higher energy and specific vitamin and mineral balanced diet than an adult dog which is simply maintaining its body condition. Pregnant bitches and working dogs will also have a higher energy requirement from their diet than an elderly dog. This is one of the reasons that there are so many different dog foods available and labelled for each life stage.
Different breeds of dog will finish growing at slightly different ages, larger breed dogs such as Labradors will finish growing later that smaller breed dogs such as Yorkshire terriers. As an approximate guide small breed dogs will need puppy food for the first 6-12 months, the larger breed dogs will need puppy food for approximately 18 months. There are some puppy foods that are designed for different breeds/sizes of dog, and most bought pet foods will give you a guide as to which age to switch to adult dog food.
As your dog moves from being a young adult dog through to a more mature dog then it may be advisable to change to a senior dog food which takes into account the changing nutritional needs of the older dog. If your dog has a specific medical condition from being overweight through to joint disease there are specific diets formulated for each condition.
I hope that this has helped to answer your question and that if you have any doubt then discuss your dog’s dietary needs with your veterinary surgeon.
Shanika Winters MRCVS (Online Vet)
If you are worried about your puppy or dog, please book an appointment with your vet or use our online symptom checker.