Can You Feed Puppies Adult Dog Food?

Last Updated: December 16, 2022

Guest post by Beco Pets

Can You Feed Puppies Adult Dog Food?


There’s a lot to learn when a new puppy joins the family and looking after their health should be your number one priority. The food you feed them is critical in ensuring they develop and thrive, and with so many types of dog food from which to choose, where do you start?

You’ll no doubt have seen that there’s food labeled for puppies, but what is the difference between puppy and adult dog food? You may have been wondering whether you can feed puppies adult dog food. And while providing your puppy adult dog food won’t make them seriously ill, it’s not recommended.

Why? Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dogs, and puppy food manufacturers formulate their food to ensure your pup has all the nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy, happy adult dog. Read on to discover more.

What Puppies Need in their Diet


Puppies grow fast, and during this period, they have to develop healthy bones, muscles, fur and teeth. Puppyhood is also a crucial time for internal organs to mature correctly. A puppy’s diet must consist of 37 essential nutrients, which include the following:

  • Proteins. Beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish, rabbit and game. Proteins help bone and muscle development. 
  • Fats. Vegetable oil and derived animal fats. Fats are the most accessible form of energy for your puppy.
  • Carbohydrates. Corn, rice, wheat and barley. Carbs help give your puppy energy and promote growth.
  • Vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and supplements. These help keep their skin and hair healthy and ensure internal organs develop correctly.
  • Water.

What’s the Difference Between Puppy and Adult Dog Food?


By now, you’ll probably have noticed that your puppy is a bundle of energy and will play until they drop. To sustain this amount of action, puppy food is higher in calories than adult dog food. This is mainly achieved by having a higher protein and fat content in puppy dog food than in adult dog food. 

Typically, adult dog food only has to be made up of 18% of protein, whereas a puppy requires more than 22% of its daily calories to be made up from protein, and therefore puppy food is higher in protein as a result. Similarly, fat content is higher in puppy food; adult dogs need only 5.5% of their calories from fat, while puppies must derive 8.5% of their calories from fat. Puppies also need more calcium and phosphorus. 

Another significant difference is that kibble made for puppies is formed into smaller, bitesize pieces than adult food so that it’s easier for a puppy to eat. They won't get their adult teeth until around six months old and can struggle with larger pieces. It’s always worth checking the label of the puppy food you buy, as some ingredients should be avoided.

Puppy Food vs. Adult Dog Food


What happens if you feed your puppy adult dog food? As highlighted above, a puppy has specific requirements to ensure that it develops and grows into a healthy adult dog. To ingest the correct amounts of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals, a puppy needs to eat more of the adult preparation.

Puppies can only take so much food at a time as they have small tummies, and overfeeding can give them an upset stomach. To avoid stunting their growth and giving them the best possible start, food specially formulated for a puppy is therefore regarded as the best option.

Likewise, if you feed an adult dog puppy food, the higher caloric content can lead to weight gain, which is unhealthy for all dogs, creating breathing problems and putting additional, unwanted stress on their joints. So, it really is as simple as feeding your puppy ‘puppy’ food and your fully-matured dog ‘adult’ dog food.

How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?


Puppies can only manage small amounts of food at a time, so until around 12 weeks old, give them four meals daily at regular intervals. Dogs love routine, so try to ensure their mealtimes are at the same time each day.
  
From 12 weeks, move to three meals a day; from six months onwards, two meals should suffice. All dogs are different, so tailor this to your pup and keep an eye on their condition. Always check with your vet if you’re unsure whether you’re feeding your puppy the right amount.

When Can My Puppy Eat Adult Food?


The switch from puppy to adult food should be made when they have stopped growing. Generally, smaller breeds can move onto adult food around six months of age, with larger breeds able to progress at between nine and twelve months. Check with your vet to be on the safe side. 

Make the transition gradually by mixing a small amount of adult food into each meal and slowly increasing that proportion. Any change to a dog's diet should be done slowly for their delicate digestive systems to get used to the new food.

In Conclusion


With so many things to think about when feeding your puppy, it’s understandable that it can be a lot to take in. Remember that all dog food, whether for puppies or not, should be completely balanced with all the necessary nutrients to keep your dog healthy. Specially-formulated puppy food is the best start for your new furry friend, ensuring you can enjoy many happy years together.


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