How Long Should You Feed A Dog Puppy Food?

Feeding a puppy a bottle of milk

Basically, puppy food is essential for young and growing dogs’ nutritional needs; from the time he is weaned from his mother’s milk till the time he can safely eat adult dog food, but what’s good about puppy food? And how long should you feed a dog puppy food? Will it harm adult dogs if they were given puppy food?

It all depends on the size of your dog. You can stop feeding your dog puppy food when he reaches his mature age. For small breed/toy dogs, this is at the age of 9 months. but if he is a large breed, then consider feeding him puppy food until he is 15 months old to make sure that he is mature when switching to adult food!

How Long Should You Give Puppy Food?

Your dog is considered to be a puppy until it reaches its expected adult size. Accordingly, he should be fed on puppy food until it reaches 80 percent of its expected adult size.

However, puppies get mature at a different time according to their breeds. A large dog breed will get mature at about 15 months, but smaller breeds will grow into an adult dog by 9 months.

In other words, a large dog breed will be fed on puppy food for a longer time than a smaller dog breed.

So if you want a one-word answer, then you should feed your little dog puppy food until he is 9 months old If he is a toy dog/small breed. You should feed him puppy food until 1.3 years if he is a large breed.

However, many vets told me that it’s not necessary to wait until 15 months and you can cut puppy food at one year.

What’s Good About Puppy’s Food

As your puppy is rapidly growing and developing, in his muscles, bones, internal organs, immune system as well as joints, a well -balanced puppy food should contain the nutrients that are necessary to fulfill the puppy’s needs for growing and developing.

These nutrients are no longer necessary once the puppy grows into a dog, and are not added to the adult dog food.

Just to have a closer look, to have a strong body, the puppy food should contain around 30% protein in addition to vitamins and minerals, also high fat for producing energy, which is not recommended for adult dogs.

So, to summarize, adult dogs aren’t recommended to eat puppy food at all.

But What’s The Difference Between Adult and Puppy Food!?

The major difference is that puppy foods contain more protein. It is the main building component for the dog’s growth.

Another distinguished component in puppy food is the high-calorie content. Similar to humans, the more energy we burn, the more calories we need to consume. The same happens to your puppy.

A puppy would need a high-calorie intake because they are known for their high energy trait.

It is usually introduced in the form of dry kibble, but it can be either mushed or soaked until the puppy is gradually given plain dry puppy food.

How to choose the best puppy food?

As mentioned before, a puppy needs extra calories and special nutrition to form strong bones, muscles, and joints. So, the best should have whole meat, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and good fats (similar to those from Omegas).

We have two dog food profiles; one is for the growth and reproduction (which is suitable for puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs), and the adult maintenance (which is suitable for adult dogs).

Accordingly, I would highly recommend that you should read the label carefully to ensure that you’re buying the right dog food for your dog’s life stage.

You should be avoiding products that contain butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), wheat gluten, and harmful chemicals like propylene glycol, synthetic vitamins, and meat meal. Chemicals and preservatives are really important to be avoided.

What Is The Best Puppy Food?

There are three types of dog food: the moist, semi-moist, and dry kibble.

The best type for puppies is the dry kibble, as it contains more meat protein, and it’s better for keeping their teeth clean and is easy to digest as well.

The moist puppy food is also easy to digest, but it is more expensive and spoils more quickly if it’s not properly stored. It contains 75% water, which makes it less nutrient for the puppy in addition to its effect on the dog’s teeth.

The best food combination would be a combined diet of dry kibble with moist puppy food. You might vary them from meal to another or mix them together every meal.

As for the semi-moist, it’s a good option as well. It’s easy to digest and very practical in usage (it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a measured packaging). But it can be a bit expensive and doesn’t have any dental benefits.

Additionally, it might lead to obesity and hyperactivity for some dogs as it contains a high level of salt, preservatives, and sugar.

To make it easier for you, here are a few puppy food kinds that may help:

  • Wellness Complete Health Puppy Food
  • Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy
  • Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Food
  • Victor Purpose Nutra Pro Dog and Puppy
  • Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy
  • Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food
  • Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate

Can A Puppy Be Given Adult Dog Food?

If the label shows that the product is designed for “all life stages,” it means that it is suitable for both growth, reproduction, and adult maintenance.

So, this product would contain all the necessary nutrients for a growing puppy and you won’t have to switch later on to a new dog food product when your puppy grows into an adult dog.

Can An Adult Be Given Puppy Food?

Actually, yes but it’s not recommended.

Imagine yourself eating cereal, it won’t harm you but it won’t benefit you as well.

Puppy food is very rich in calories which can make your adult dog very hyper and he won’t benefit from it so it’s better to give him adult food.

It is also better for your wallet. Most of the time, puppy food is more expensive than adult food.

When Should You Switch From Puppy To Dog Food?

The switch would happen when your puppy is between 18 to 24 months old.

As we said, large or giant breed dogs take a little longer to reach maturity, and some would still be growing till two years old.

Switching to dog food should be gradual.

You may mix a small amount of adult food with the puppy food and slowly decrease the amount of puppy food and increase that of adult food. Eventually, your dog will be eating adult dog food by the end of the week.

You have to be extra careful with this switching process, because any change of food may cause an upset tummy for the dog.

Gradually increasing the amount of dog food and decreasing the amount of puppy food will make a smooth switch process.


Puppy food is very nutritious but don’t consider it for adult dogs because it’s the same concept in humans. Babies need high amounts of calcium which adults actually don’t need and that’s why babies have to drink high amounts of milk.

Remember, the key for a healthy dog is to monitor his nutrition well and when you are considering switching puppy food to adult food, please do it slowly to avoid upset stomachs.

Don’t forget to check our latest article about peanut butter for puppies! And stay tuned for more articles 😉

Soheir Maher

Hi, I am Soheir. I have always been passionate about dogs. My first dog was Leo who was a wonderful Golden Retriever after that I got Kira another Golden Retriever who is wonderful too. My passion for dogs made me read a lot about them. Training them personally made me become an expert in everything related to them, that's why my writing is always a mix of experience and science. My writing about dogs isn't for the sake of earning a living but instead, for the sake of benefiting people around the world.

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