Your dog deserves high-quality food no matter their age. While they’re puppies, their diet is focused on growth, but as they get older the shift focuses on a healthy weight maintenance.
It’s important to know what kind of diet to switch your dog to and when to switch them to adult food. Some vet’s recommend making the switch at 12 months, though all dogs have different timelines.
There are several factors to keep in mind when considering to switch your dog to adult food.
What Is The Difference in Puppy Food?
Dogs require a balance of protein, fat, and essential nutrients for optimal health and wellness, regardless of breed and age.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has established minimums required for growth and maintenance in dogs. At minimum, puppies require 22% protein and 8% fat to fuel their growth, while adult dogs require 18% protein and 5% fat in their diets.
Puppy food has higher levels of protein and fat to fuel growth in addition to nutrients found in the milk of female dog’s. Puppy food may also have higher levels of calcium and phosphorus to support healthy bones.
When to Switch to Adult Dog Food
Dogs under 12 months are typically referred to as puppies while dogs over 12 months are considered adults. A rule is that puppies can be switched to adult food when they reach 80% of their expected adult size.
Remember, just because your puppy is technically of age, doesn’t mean they’re ready for adult food. Consider their breed size when determining when to switch. Small breed dogs typically switch between 9-10 months, while medium and large dogs switch closer to 12-18 months.
Make the Switch Slowly
When transitioning your dog to a new recipe, slow and steady wins the race. Sudden changes can trigger digestive issues which can be unpleasant for you and your pup. Slowly mix the adult food with their current food, and increase the ratio of new to old over a week.
Make sure to keep an eye on your dog’s weight and body condition over time, and work with your vet to make sure your dog is transitioning well.