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When should you switch from puppy food to dog food?

Vet Tony Buckwell advises on timings

puppy eating food

Puppy food is high in calories and nutrients to support growth

Q: My cocker spaniel is coming up to eight months old and is still fed a puppy diet. How and when should you switch from puppy food to dog food?

A: Puppy food is high in calories and nutrients to support the rapid growth that your young dog is going through. When your dog reaches maturity, puppy food is likely to make it overweight.

Keep a close eye on your dog’s physique, and don’t hesitate to speak to your vet if you think it might be piling on a few too many pounds. If your puppy is getting a little overweight, you might need to reduce the amount of puppy food it is getting, or it could be time to transition to adult food. (You might also like to read – is it best to feed dogs before or after exercise?)

Best time to switch from puppy food to dog food

A young dog needs to continue eating specialist puppy food until it has fully transitioned into adulthood. For smaller breeds this can be as early as eight months, for medium-sized breeds it’s around 12 months and for larger breeds it can be 18 months to two years of age.

An appropriate diet tends to be more efficient than exercise for weight loss, so controlling the type of diet and the amount you feed is essential. (What food is best for gundog puppies?)

If you try to change your dog’s diet in a single day, it will probably suffer from some digestive issues. It’s best to transition from puppy food to dog food for adults incrementally over a period of seven to 10 days. This enables the dog’s digestive system to get used the new ingredients and also enables it time to get a taste for the new food.

Many dogs will eat virtually anything they are offered but for those that are a bit picky, taking the time to let them get used to the new tastes and textures can help prevent them rejecting the diet outright when it otherwise may have suited them.

You can mix the old and new together, but it will often work better to offer a sample of the new diet first before serving the rest of the dog’s meal. This way it is more likely to be to hungry and willing to try a new food, but if it isn’t interested and doesn’t finish the new food, it will still be able to have most of its normal meal afterwards.