When to Stop Feeding Puppy Food
Unfortunately, there’s no set answer for when to stop feeding puppy food.
As a general rule, dogs less than one year of age are considered puppies, but different breeds mature at different rates. For this reason, making the transition to adult dog food varies from breed to breed. Our experts can help you determine when it’s time to make the switch from puppy food to adult dog food.
Why Switch to Adult Dog Food?
Puppy food formulas are nutrient rich and high in calories to support your puppy’s growth, development and high energy levels.
Continuing to feed puppy food past the point of maturity could result in weight gain, which can lead to other health problems. Choose a complete and balanced adult dog food formula once your puppy reaches maturity.
How Long Should a Puppy Eat Puppy Food?
When do puppies become adult dogs? Although dogs who are one year or older are often considered adults, this isn’t always the case.
Adulthood depends more on breed size than age. Because large and giant breeds often take longer to mature, they need to eat puppy food longer than small- to medium-sized breeds.
Here’s how long you can expect to feed your dog puppy food based on his breed size:
- Toy and small breed dogs weighing less than 30 pounds may reach full maturity between 9 and 12 months of age.
- Dogs weighing between 30 and 80 pounds, or medium breeds, take 12 to 16 months to fully mature.
- Large and giant breeds over 80 pounds can take up to 24 months to reach full maturity.
If you have a mixed breed or aren’t sure where your dog falls in terms of breed size, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. They can let you know when it’s time to switch and help make it a successful transition.
“Remember puppies can vary as individuals. Often, as they get closer to adulthood, their calorie needs drop and you may see leftover food in their bowls. This doesn’t mean they don’t like the food—and you don’t want to shift them to adult food too early. Instead, offer a little less food at each feeding so your puppy doesn’t overeat and you will help him stay at an ideal body condition,” says Purina Senior Nutritionist Jan Dempsey.
Changing Portion Sizes
When you stop feeding puppy food, you have to change more than the food he eats. Meal times and portion sizes must shift, too. Previously, you probably fed your puppy three meals a day. Adult dogs can eat two meals a day, though.
Follow the feeding instructions on the package to know exactly how much food to feed your dog each day and split the amount into two meals. To really determine if your dog is getting the right amount of food, however, you need to monitor his body condition.
How to Stop Feeding Puppy Food
When it’s time to stop feeding puppy food, you want to transition to adult dog food gradually. A gradual transition helps avoid stomach upset. The process can take 7 to 10 days. See our guide for changing dog food for step-by-step instructions.
The bottom line? Your puppy may reach maturity in less than a year, or it could take up to two years, depending on his breed. Talk with your veterinarian for a more exact timeline tailored to your puppy’s unique needs. When it’s time to make the switch, explore our adult dog food formulas for a tasty food your pup will love.