Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of adult dogs and puppies. Puppies need food that promotes growth and development, as most owners are aware. Many owners cannot decide when it is time to transition to adult dog food. There is no universal rule for all dogs. Different dogs grow at different speeds. You and your vet can determine the best time for your puppy to change his diet.
Feeding Puppy Food
Puppies need more calories than adult dogs to support their high energy levels, growth, and development. Young puppies require twice as many calories as adults of the same age. Your puppy will reach adulthood, and his growth rate will slow. His caloric requirements will decrease. Weight gain can be caused by feeding your puppy food after your dog stops growing. Being overweight can quickly lead to obesity and other health issues.
When to Change to Adult Food
Dogs are generally considered puppies up to one year old. However, different breeds age at different rates. Many large or giant breed dogs, such as the big and tall ones, are still considered puppies at two years old. They will need to continue eating puppy food after that age. Some small breeds of dogs can reach adult size well before turning one. Ask your veterinarian for advice before you make the change to adult food.
When deciding the best time to feed adult dog foods, the goal is to change to adult food as soon as the puppy stops growing, but before he gains excess weight. You should keep track of your puppy’s weight and height. If they grow slower, you can expect them to be more active. The average age at which dogs reach a plateau is one year, although some dogs may experience a slowing down in growth as young as eight to nine months.
Assessing Your Dog’s Weight
Weight gain does not always indicate growth. Your dog may be becoming overweight if he is losing weight but not growing in height or muscle. There are a few things you can do to improve your dog’s health at home.
- Your dog should feel your fingers running along its ribcage. Your dog might be overweight if you can’t feel the ribs.
- Take a look at your dog from the side. The belly should be visible upwards. A dog that is overweight will not have any tuck.
- Look at your dog from the top. The waist should be just above the ribcage. An overweight dog will have a straight line or bulging line running from the ribcage to your hips.
A dog with prominent ribs or a small waist could be underweight. To be certain, consult your vet.
You may have to reduce the amount of food your dog eats and the frequency with which they eat it. Vets should feed young puppies three times a day. Most puppies will eat three meals per day once they reach adulthood.
How to Change Your Diet
To avoid digestive upset, any diet change should be made slowly. This can take up to a week, depending on how you approach it.
You may need to spend some time researching the best food for your adult dog. It is possible to keep the same food brand but switch to an adult diet. Your vet will be able to help you choose the right diet.
After you have decided on the adult dog food you want, calculate the amount of adult food your dog will need based on its current weight. Next, increase the amount of adult food you add to your puppy food by increasing it slightly at each meal. You may also want to create a schedule to make it easier to remember what each meal should contain. When switching diets, many veterinary specialists recommend the “3-by-3” method.
- Days 1 – 3: Feed 1/3 of adult food and 2/3 of puppy food
- Days 4 – 6: Give 1/2 of the adult food and 1/2 of the puppy food
- Days 9-9: Feed 1/3 of adult food and 1/3 of puppy food
- Day 10: Eat full adult food
Be sure to monitor your dog’s appetite, bowel movements and behaviour during the transition. If your dog has diarrhoea or vomiting, slow down the transition. If your dog continues to have GI problems, you might need to change the adult diet and re-start his transition. Contact your vet if your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea that lasts more than a few days.
- To ensure that you don’t have to adjust portions, keep an eye on your dog’s weight in the months ahead. Your vet may recommend that you have annual or biannual veterinary health checks.