When to change from puppy food to adult food

First a little bit about feeding your puppy

Puppies eatingA growing puppy should only be fed a formula which provides enough nutrients for their rapidly growing body. While it is important that they have access to plenty of food this should be controlled and only given to them at feeding times. Feeding times for most puppies over 8 weeks old will be twice a day, with larger breeds needing feeding at least 3 times a day while still young.

Leave the food out for 10 minutes only and then remove it, and wait for the evening meal before you feed the puppy again. Puppies will learn quite quickly that their food supply is limited and that they should eat their fill when it’s available. As the food quantity is being controlled by humans there is no danger of the puppy overeating. This feeding schedule should carry on throughout the puppy’s life as it also reinforces the humans as dominant, in charge, and in control of all of the food.

Allowing a puppy to overeat can be habit forming, and may eventually lead to weight and health problems as the dog gets older, such as skeletal disorders, obesity, and diabetes. If your puppy needs vitamin and mineral supplements it should only be supplied on your veterinarian’s orders.

So now you know the basic do’s and don’ts of feeding your puppy, but at what age do you transition them to an adult diet?

Cavachon puppy in basketThe general rule for transitioning your pup towards an adult diet is when they reach about 80 to 90 percent of their adult weight. This is a guide only and changes depending on the breed of dog. Another rule of thumb is to wait until the dog is 7-8 months for smaller dogs such as Cavachons, 8-10 months for medium sized breeds, and at least a year for the biggest breeds. Larger breeds are prone to skeletal diseases if they don’t receive enough nutrients during their growing stage which explains the longer time frame.

When it is time to wean your dog off puppy food don’t just start immediately as this abrupt change may lead to diarrhea and stomach cramps – leaving the poor puppy feeling quite miserable. Instead, do it gradually over a period of two weeks or so. Mix in 75 percent puppy food with 25 percent adult food to start, and over the next few days gradually increase the ratio until the adult food makes up 100 percent of the meal.

Remember, puppy food is very rich when compared to adult dog food, so continuing to feed them puppy food well into their adult life is not doing them any favors, as it will eventually lead to health problems.