Welcoming a puppy into your life is an adventure filled with joy and learning. As your furry friend grows, their dietary needs evolve, too. Understanding when and how to transition from puppy to adult dog food is essential for their health and wellbeing. In this blog, we'll explore the key points about transitioning your puppy to adult dog food, ensuring you feel confident and informed.

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What Age Is a Dog an Adult?

A dog is generally considered an adult when it reaches physical maturity, which varies by breed size. Small breeds reach adulthood by 9 to 12 months, while medium breeds are typically fully grown around 12 to 15 months. Large and giant breeds, on the other hand, may take longer, usually reaching maturity at about 18 to 24 months. While these are general guidelines, each dog is unique, and factors like breed, health, and individual growth patterns can influence the timing of when a dog is fully matured.

Cute brown and white puppy sitting on someone's lap

Can a Puppy Eat Adult Dog Food?

Puppies should ideally only eat adult dog food once they reach the appropriate age for their breed size, as their nutritional needs differ significantly from adult dogs. Puppies require a diet rich in protein, calories, and specific nutrients to support their rapid growth and development. On the other hand, adult dog food is formulated to maintain health and weight in fully grown dogs and might not provide the necessary nutrients for a growing puppy.

Introducing adult food too early can lead to nutritional imbalances and affect a puppy's overall health and growth. Therefore, it's best to feed puppies with food specifically designed for their developmental stage until they can safely transition to adult dog food.

When Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?

Puppies can start eating adult dog food when grown enough to be almost as big as when fully grown. This usually happens around their first birthday but can vary depending on the breed. Small dogs grow quickly, so they might be ready for adult food when they're about 9 to 12 months old. Larger dogs, however, grow more slowly and often need to wait until they are about 18 to 24 months old.

It's not just about their age but also how much they have grown. Checking their growth and occasionally consulting with a vet can help you decide the best time to switch to adult food. This ensures your puppy gets the right nutrients at the right time, supporting their growth and health as they become adult dogs.

Brown and white puppy eating a bowl of dog food

Switching from Puppy Food to Adult Food Based on Age and Breed Size

Breed SizeTypical Adult Weight RangeRecommended Age to Switch to Adult Food
Small BreedsUp to 10 kg (22 lbs)9-12 months
Medium Breeds10-25 kg (22-55 lbs)12-15 months
Large Breeds25-40 kg (55-88 lbs)15-18 months
Giant BreedsOver 40 kg (88 lbs)18-24 months


  1. Small Breeds: Includes breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Dachshunds. These dogs typically reach their adult size faster and can transition to adult food around 9-12 months.
  2. Medium Breeds: Breeds such as Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, and Bulldogs fall into this category. They generally reach maturity between 12-15 months.
  3. Large Breeds: Includes Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. They have a slower growth rate and should switch to adult food around 15-18 months.
  4. Giant Breeds: Breeds like Great Danes and Mastiffs that take longer to reach their full size should transition to adult food later, typically between 18-24 months.

Key Considerations:

  • Individual Variation: Remember, these are general guidelines. Individual dogs may vary based on their specific growth patterns and health conditions.
  • Consult a Vet: It's always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best time to switch, especially if your dog has specific health needs or dietary requirements.
  • Transition Gradually: When switching to adult food, do it gradually over 7-10 days to avoid digestive upset.
Dog looking into a bowl of dog biscuits

Puppy Feeding Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between Puppy and Adult Dog Food?

Understanding the difference between puppy and adult dog food is key. Puppy food supports rapid growth and development with higher calories, protein content and essential nutrients. Adult dog food, on the other hand, is formulated to maintain a healthy weight and support ongoing health in a fully grown dog.

When Should I Switch My Puppy from Starter to Food?

The switch from starter to regular puppy food usually happens around three to four months of age. This change is a step towards preparing them for adult dog food later.

What Age Do You Reduce Puppy Meals?

As puppies grow, their feeding schedule also changes. Around six months of age, you can typically reduce feeding from three times a day to twice daily. This helps prepare them for the adult feeding schedule.

Can Puppies Eat a Raw Diet?

A raw diet is not dangerous for puppies but requires careful planning to ensure it meets their specific nutritional needs for growth and development. A balanced, raw diet typically includes raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables. However, consulting with a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist is essential to ensure the diet is appropriately balanced in nutrients like protein, fat, and essential vitamins.

Additionally, risks include potential bacterial contamination and bone safety. Safe handling and storing raw food are important, and any dietary changes should be introduced gradually. Regular vet check-ups are recommended to monitor the puppy's health and development on a raw diet.

Why Isn’t My Puppy Eating?

If your puppy isn't eating, it could be due to several reasons. Environmental changes, stress, or dietary shifts can impact their appetite. Teething discomfort may also cause a decrease in eating. More serious concerns like health issues, reactions to vaccinations or medications, or overfeeding could be culprits.

If your puppy's appetite doesn't improve, or if they show other symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhoea, consult a veterinarian. Puppies have high nutritional needs for their growth and development, so prolonged loss of appetite should be addressed quickly.

Can Adult Dogs Eat Puppy Food?

While adult dogs can eat puppy food, it's not ideal due to the higher calorie content, which can lead to weight gain and other health issues in a mature dog.

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