When to Switch to Adult Dog Food: Puppy Growth Guide

Laura Day

August 7, 2019

when-to-switch-to-adult-dog-food

As your puppy grows, his needs evolve quite drastically in every facet of his life. This includes his dietary needs! As your barking buddy undergoes major physical and mental changes, you have to keep up to accommodate them. This begs the question–what time is the right time to switch over to adult dog food ?

Today, you are going to learn all about that and get recommendations for some of the best adult dog food on the market right now!

The Timeline of Puppy Growth and Dietary Needs

As puppies age and grow into fully grown adults, they switch up their food routines. This is usually done in very specific stages of life, and for great reasons that will be covered later on.

This schedule varies by breed, which is an important distinction because differently sized breeds grow at different rates!

First, though, you may be wondering why to even bother sticking to a set routine at all. Why not just feed them adult food when you think your pup’s teeth are strong enough? Let’s talk about that.

Why is a Feeding Timeline So Important?

Knowing when precisely to switch from puppy food to adult food is crucial because as your little fur baby turns into a fur man, he needs lots and lots more nutrients than adult dogs do. Puppy food is specially formulated to give those puppers the nutrients they so desperately need. Without them, he can’t get big and strong.

If you want your dog to be #swole like Popeye, stick to the schedule that professionals recommend!

Timeline for Small Breeds

Most small breed dogs are fully grown by the time they reach a year of age. At that point, you will definitely be feeding your own dog more sophisticated meals. But how do you work up to that point? Take a look at this guide for more information:

  • 6-12 weeks old: You should, at this point, be feeding your little fuzzy friend puppy food. You will likely be starting out on wet food or dry food mixed with warm water about 3-4 times a day until your pup is 12-13 weeks old. At this point they are able to be fed dry puppy food on it’s own.
  • 3-6 months: You will still feed your pup puppy food, but you will be able to lessen the frequency of feeding times or lower the portion sizes.
  • 7+ months: Now is the time to begin feeding small dogs adult food if they seem ready to take that leap. Always ask a vet first because each case can be different, but you should be good to go!

Timeline for Medium/Large Breeds

The first portion of the timeline for small breeds applies to larger breeds, but the difference is that large breed pups have to stay on puppy food for a longer amount of time. You can begin to switch your large or giant breed puppy adult food at around one year of age, or a little longer if yours does not seem ready to make the switch to adult formula yet. Each dog’s diet is a bit subjective, so pay attention to when the puppy formula doesn’t seem to quite be having the same effects on your dog as it once had. If you’re unsure, simply ask the dogtor (veterinarian) as they know best!

Puppy Growth Guide: Physical Changes

Again, some of you may be confused as to why you have to switch foods at all. If puppy food is so nutritious, why would you ever turn to adult dog food? Well, the answer lies in the physical changes that your puppy will go through in his lifetime.

What defines the transition from pup to grown up?

What defines the transition from pup to grown up

  • At around 4 months of age, puppies begin to lose their baby teeth and grow into their adult chompers. Baby teeth are weaker, so soft food is appropriate for puppies. Adult teeth come with the exciting new experience of eating harder foods.
  • Physical maturity. When your dog becomes an adult, they will have stopped growing and will have become their full size!
  • Sexual maturity. After a dog goes through their version of puberty (the adolescent stage,) they are considered adults.

Puppy Growth Guide: Mental Changes

Mental changes signal the beginning of adulthood as well, and these new developments are just as vital to a dog’s happiness and wellbeing. Here are some of the mental changes your pup will go through as he goes through his journey to adulthood:

  • The destructive behaviors that come with puppyhood and adolescence should wear off. Now, your dog knows that he can’t go barking mad on your new couch cushions because he is mature enough to realize what the consequences will be.
  • Your pup will bounce off of the walls less. As dogs age, they become a little less energetic. This is especially true if yours has been neutered. These dogs tend to settle down faster than others.
  • Your dog is now able to learn commands more quickly and do more complicated stunts and tricks than a puppy would.

Choosing An Adult Dog Food

Once you are able to recognize the signs of adulthood in your pup and you are ready to make the switch to adult dog food, you should look for only the best that stores have to offer. It is important that their food leaves their bellies feeling happy, and also meets their nutritional needs. While researching doggo nutrition on the internet, you may find yourself in confusion with the myths and misinformation. Make sure to check your sources when making this decision and always consult with a veterinarian if you are unsure.

Learning how to properly read the label on the food packaging is also crucial when choosing the best fit food for your doggo. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it mandatory to to include 8 key pieces of information, including product name and list of ingredients, which can be helpful when making this decision. It’s also good to remember that some ingredients may be pawesome for some furry friends, they may not be best suited for others.

Your pup’s whole future is in your hands. It is up to you to shape him into a happy, healthy adult by making the right decisions when it comes to nutrition! Give your pet the life he deserves by knowing when and what to feed him.


Bringing a new family addition into the home is extremely exciting! Becoming a new puppy parent comes with a ton of new joys, challenges and responsibilities. PupBox was created to help new puppy parents like yourself, by providing all of the toys, treats, accessories and training information you need, when you need it. CLICK HERE to learn more about PupBox.


And remember, puppyhood is fast and is gone before you know it. Make sure to savor the time when your pup is young, and take lots of pictures along the way!