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A commonly asked question is whether you should feed adult food for puppies.

The short answer is no. You should avoid giving adult food to puppies, particularly in the long-term.

Puppies grow rapidly and require different amounts and types of nutrients compared to an adult dog. During the first year of life, a puppy goes through many stages, developing their bones, muscles, organs, and skeletal system. Ultimately it could be detrimental to their health.

But let’s look at that in a little more detail:

Why You Should Avoid Adult Food For Puppies

  • Adult food is larger than puppy food, making it easier to choke on.
  • Being generally harder, adult food is more difficult to chew, which can cause dental issues.
  • Lower calories make it more difficult for puppies to regulate their body temperature.
  • Large-breed puppies who get too much calcium can develop bone disease.
  • Stunted development from eating adult food leads to long-term health problems.
  • Adult food has a lower average percentage of protein (18%); puppies require about 22.5%.
  • Puppies cannot digest adult food properly – meaning fewer nutrients will be absorbed.
  • Higher Omega 3 found in puppy food promotes eye development.

Are ‘All Stages of Life’ foods nutritionally sound for puppies?

There are plenty of foods on the market that claim to be for all stages of dog life. ‘All Stages of Life’ dog foods have been under a lot of scrutiny from pet owners, veterinarians, and even the American Kennel Club. Fortunately, they have passed all the nutritional tests! These foods are required to label all important nutrients, including fats and proteins. When checking  ‘All Stages of Life’ food for puppy requirements, note if the protein is a minimum 22% and calcium is 1%, which meets the guidelines for large-breed puppies as well.

If you have a puppy as well as a full-grown dog, it is not OK to choose adult food for puppies, but it is acceptable to feed both puppies and dogs ‘All Stages of Life’ labeled foods.

When do I know it’s time to switch my puppy to adult food?

If you have decided not to go with ‘All Stages of Life’ dog food, you will need to switch your puppy to adult food eventually. Here are a few indications it’s time to change:

Puppy is between 6 and 18 months old.

Small breeds will switch to adult food sooner (6-12 months).

Large breeds will switch later (12-18 months).

Puppy is showing less interest in three meals per day.

Finding that extra meal boring can indicate a change. Once your puppy switches to adult food, you will most likely go to a two per day feeding schedule.

Puppy may be showing signs of obesity.

If your pup is nearing the age to switch and getting a bit chubby, this is a good sign they need a lower calorie adult food.

Still feeding puppy food and wondering what’s best for them? Read our article on the ‘Types of Food to Feed Your Puppy.’

*It’s important that you seek the advice from your vet if you suspect your puppy isn’t getting the right nutrients or putting on too much weight. Other factors could be at play, and always do what is best for your puppy!


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