So, it looks like your canine companion is starting to grow into those big puppy paws and is gobbling down every meal as if he he hasn't eaten in weeks. You may be wondering if it's time to switch him to some big boy food, but you're not quite sure what the protocol is. Well, there are some general guidelines to consider before serving up the adult dog chow.
What's the Difference?
Puppy food is higher in calories and is nutrient-packed to help your pup's bones, muscles, joints and organs grow. Adult dog food has lower calories and less nutrients, such as calcium. An adult dog shouldn't eat puppy food, as it may cause obesity and growth problems. If an adult dog is given puppy food, he may not even eat it all since it is so dense and rich.
PetMD recommends keeping your puppy on puppy food until he reaches 1 year of age. Then you should start to transition him to adult dog food. Don't just switch completely in one day. Gradually start replacing the puppy food with adult dog food over the course of a week. Start with a little and increase the ratio over those days. If he starts to get diarrhea or an upset stomach, back off a bit. Contact your vet if you have any concerns about the transition or any side effects.
Generally, you should feed puppies three meals a day until about 6 months of age. After that, cut down to a morning and evening meal. Stick with the twice daily feeding from there on out. These guidelines can be modified if your vet is worried about your puppy's growth or weight gain. Try to keep a regular schedule for mealtimes.
Breed Specific Food
Look for foods that are specifically designed for your breed of dog. Foods that are meant for small dog breeds will have concentrated nutrients in smaller, easier to eat pieces. Just as foods for large dog breeds will be larger and have nutrients designed for gradual growth and for the developing needs of their joints and bones.
Amount of Food
Your best bet is to look at the back of your dog food packaging for the recommended dosage. You can adjust that amount if your dog is more active or less, so he gets an adequate caloric intake. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about your specific dog's needs.
By Susan Revermann
About the Author
Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.