When to Switch to Adult Dog Food – Ensuring it Is the Right Time

Without mincing words, being a dog parent or guardian is a call to top-notch responsibility. There are several things required of you. Many of these commitments are time-bound and so should be carried out at the right time.

Feeding your dog should not be taken with a pinch of salt. This is considering the impact it has on the overall health and well being of your canine buddy. A well-fed dog is a healthy and happy dog.

So many diseases and complications can be prevented and resolved by simply administering the right kind of meal. The subject of canine diabetes falls into this category.

Facts About Feeding a Puppy

For experienced dog parents, let us start by stating the obvious. Feeding a puppy is not a stroll in the park. It comes with a lot of time and financial commitments.

All things being equal, the cost of feeding a puppy outweighs that of feeding an adult canine. Why is this?

As puppies, they are at a very crucial point in their lives. They need the right kind and amount of nutrition to develop essential parts of their body. 

For instance, at this stage, the skeletal structure is still going through a rapid formation. As a result, the nutrients that will aid the formulation of these parts are needed at this stage. 

Always ensure that your puppies are fed with the right nutritional constituents at the appropriate time. This is indeed the pathway to having a healthy, happy, and active dog.

When Should You Begin to Administer Meals Other Than Breastmilk?

As with humans, breastmilk is important for canines. This underlines one of the crucial problems with separating puppies from their mothers after birth. 

Regardless of the corporate intention which can always be faulted, the young puppies should be allowed the privilege of being weaned. 

At the initial stages after birth, do not feed your puppies with commercial meals. This is because all the dog needs for growth at this stage are embedded in the natural breastmilk.

If external meals are given at this point, there is the possibility that the dog may develop complications. This may be mild or severe. However, regardless of the dog’s reaction, it is only appropriate that exclusive breastfeeding is observed at first.

Dogs should be introduced to other meals earlier than 6 months. From the 4th week, minute portions of commercial or safe homemade meals can be introduced.

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However, breastfeeding should not be stopped at this stage. This is because it is still very essential for providing nutrients to the dog.

What Is the Order for Serving Commercial Dog Food?

As stated earlier, from the 4th week, little amounts of commercial dog meals should be offered to your dog. 

First, most of the dog’s required nutrients are found in the breastmilk. Secondly, the puppy’s digestive system is still in the infant stage and unable to process other meals appropriately.

As a result, the introduction of these meals is primarily to prepare the dog’s system for the new meal. This is because it would be served in a larger proportion soon.

To help your dog accept and digest commercial meals properly, you may need to use water a lot. This is especially for kibbles and dry food at large.

Compared to wet food, dry food has little moisture content. This is why some dog parents prefer wet dog food for their puppies.

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Although a good choice, it requires more financial commitments. This is because wet and canned dog meals are more expensive than dry ones. As a result, many dog owners resort to using kibbles.

Although an argued fact, many believe using kibbles is a better option for young puppies. It is believed that it prevents the build-up of tartars in the dog’s dental cavity.

Especially for dry food, the use of water can help the young dogs chew and digest the meals well enough.

In the long run, you can play down on using water to soften the meals. At this stage, dogs would be able to cope with the physical properties of the meals.

You should become more serious about feeding your dog commercial meals from the 6th week. This is because the puppy’s weaning stage will come to an end soon. At this stage, you should feed your dog between 3 to 5 times every day.

Puppies need a lot of food. However, their bowels are small and unable to process large chunks of food at once. As a result, they are to be fed frequently to meet their nutritional needs.

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We strongly recommend that you visit a veterinarian at this stage. This is important in ensuring you are offering the right amount and calories and keeping track of the dog’s progress.

Generally, small and toy breed dogs consume fewer meals than large breed dogs. As a result, you should not serve equal portions if you have both kinds of dogs.

Also, there are breed-specific commercial dog meals available. They are formulated to meet the peculiar needs of the dogs. For instance, an Irish Wolfhound has peculiar nutritional needs different from a Chihuahua.

Irish Wolfhound is a large breed canine while the Chihuahua is a small breed. As stated above, they have some varying nutritional requirements as a result of their size, default activeness, among other factors. 

For example, large-breed dogs have their skeletal structures developed much later than small breed ones. 

Considering all these, some commercial meals are made to meet the needs of the large or small breed. We strongly suggest that you purchase them rather than options designed for all breeds.

When your puppy is 3 months old, feeding should take a new dimension. This is not about stopping the use of food meant for puppies. However, it is about the frequency at which it is offered. Unlike the previous 3 to 5 times previously served, you should not exceed 3 times at this point. 

Among other reasons, this is to prevent overfeeding and canine obesity. You should understand that puppy food is extraordinarily rich in calories compared to other life-staged food. It is intended to provide an enormous amount of calories needed by the dog at the initial life stage.

From about 3 months, a large chunk of the dog’s anatomical structure is developed. As a result, there is less need for calories. This should be reflected in the quantity and frequency at which they are fed.

As stated earlier, you need the services of the veterinarian now, more than ever before. As a professional, he or she will be in the right position to examine the dog, suggest the amount of food needed.

In the same vein, at about 6 months, the frequency of the meals should be further reduced. Generally speaking, not more than twice a day should suffice. 

When to Switch to Adult Dog Food

The canine’s digestive system has a way of adapting to meals. Introducing something entirely different (adult dog food) will trigger some hormonal reactions in the digestive system. To help the dog scale through the essential change without problems, patience is of the essence.

You should set out a period of 1 to 2 weeks for the transition period. Also, you should be open to stopping the meal if it does not suit your dog’s system.

This is because some dogs have overly sensitive stomachs. This makes them selective to certain kinds of meals. For such furry pals, you may have to try out a couple of foods.

Generally speaking, dogs are ready for the switch from puppy meals to adult meals from 1 year to a few months afterward. 

The switch is important considering the need to play down on giving excessive amounts of calories. Also, the dog’s skeletal frame should be fully formed at this point. 

Factors that determine When to Switch to Adult Dog Food

Although there are general rules about switching as shared above, there are times when they do not play out. This means that some situations warrant that the switch happens much earlier or later than previously discussed. They include the following:

The Breed of The Dog

The saying about birds of the same feathers flocking together does not apply here. The term dog is a very ambiguous word in this context and should be treated as such. How is this?

There are so many canine breeds out there. The best way to categorize them is to use terms such as large breed, small breed, toy breed, and so on.

Well, in that light, the size of a dog hugely influences when the switch should happen. Still, on the subject of skeletal structure formation, small and toy breeds develop faster. As a result, they are ready for the food switch much faster than large breeds.

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The Size of The Dog

Apparently, larger breeds are bigger than smaller breeds. However, this point is not about if it is a large or small breed. Instead, this is about the expected size of the dog per time and the peculiarity of the dog’s breed.

You should consult your veterinarian, as he would assess and suggest ways to keep your dig in the right shape.

Surgical Procedures Carried Out

Depending on the health conditions of the dog, the decision to transition to an adult food can happen much sooner or later.

For instance, dogs that are sprayed would need to switch much earlier than the expected time. This is as a result of the effects of the surgical procedure carried out.

How About Switching to a Different Kind of Dog Food

What if your dog was raised with a particular kind of food and you want to switch to another?

Perhaps your dog was raised with wet dog food during the puppy stage. Considering the cost among other reasons, you may decide to change to dry adult dog food.

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Knowledge of how to go about this is important. This is because your dog may be reluctant to eat the new meal. 

More often, this is the experience when changing from wet to dry food. Compared to dry food, the taste and moisture content of wet foods is enticing for most dogs.

How do you successfully switch from wet to dry food for instance? Well, the key is patience and playing on your dog’s psychology. 

Because the dog is not used to this type of meal, you would do well to switch gradually. You should start by adding minute portions as part of the former meal. Gradually, you increase the portions until it is the largest chunk and ultimately replaces the old meal.

Also, you should understand that your dog has a will and emotion. For example, your dog can outrightly refuse to eat just to get your attention.

If the refusal has nothing to do with health concerns, you can manipulate your dog into eating overtime. You will achieve this by serving your dog and leaving the premises outrightly. If you get back and meet the meal untouched, you should pack it up and wash the bowl.

Later on, serve the dog the usual way and repeat the process. If it’s clearly about seeking attention, he will settle down to eat. However, if the refusal continues, you may need to ensure it is not a health concern.

The video below explains how to switch a dog to adult food.

Video: When to change a puppy’s food to an adult dog food


Other than when to switch to adult food as discussed in this article, there is how to switch dog food. You should ensure that you leave no stone unturned. Pay attention to the details here when it is needed.