When you have a new puppy at home, you want to make sure that you are doing everything to give them the best life.
From playing with them to training them, few things are more important than ensuring that you feed them the right thing.
Still, many people wonder, is it OK to give a puppy regular dog food? Can a puppy eat adult dog food, or will that cause them health problems?
Without doing extensive research, it can be hard to know the answers to these questions.
Most people assume that puppy food is a must simply because puppy food exists, but there is actually more to it than just that.
Let’s learn more about puppy food, why it is preferred by many, and what you should know about feeding your new family member.
Is It OK to Give a Puppy Regular Dog Food?
Can puppies eat adult dog food, or is it strictly necessary to ensure that puppies get the nutrition they need?
There is not a strict “yes” or “no” answer to this question.
Every dog food is formulated differently, which means that various foods will be better for puppies than others.
Are there some adult dog foods that will be perfect for puppies?
Are there some adult dog foods that will make puppies ill?
The difference is often more about what is or what is not in the food, and whether that dog food is formulated for puppies or adults.
In many cases, the main thing that needs to differ when feeding puppies is the amount of food and not the formulation.
Still, the only way to know that is to know the details of what is in your puppy’s dog food.
What Happens If You Feed a Puppy Regular Dog Food?
In most cases, your puppy will not have an immediate reaction to eating adult dog food.
Puppies can eat a few servings of adult dog food without any side effects, but it is the long-term consequences to be concerned about.
Puppies have specific nutritional needs, and adult dog food might not fulfill those needs.
If you feed a puppy regular dog food long-term, you risk the following:
- The puppy could develop allergies.
- The puppy might not grow as quickly.
- The puppy might develop specific health problems from a lack of vitamins or minerals.
- The puppy could have gastrointestinal issues.
- The puppy could get sick.
Of course, there is never a guarantee that your puppy will or will not suffer from these conditions if they eat adult dog food.
What happens to your puppy comes down to the specific food that they are fed.
Let’s learn more about the differences between puppy dog food and adult dog food.
Puppy Food vs Adult Dog Food
What is the difference between different types of dog foods?
Understanding that dog food is formulated differently for different purposes will help you decide what to feed your puppy.
Similarities and Differences
What’s the difference between adult and puppy food?
Generally speaking, puppy food has a higher protein, calories, and nutrients per serving than adult dog food.
Adult dog food is formulated for body maintenance, while puppy dog food is formulated for growth.
Puppies need much higher concentrations of the following when compared to adult dogs:
- Certain amino acids
- Healthy fats
- Specific minerals
- Protein than adult dogs
Their food reflects this need. That being said, some adult dog foods might still match what a puppy needs.
Since different dogs and breeds have different needs, there is some overlap.
There are even adult dog foods known as “all stages” foods. This cut the difference, so it can be fed to dogs for both growth and maintenance.
Big vs Small Breeds
Remember that it is also crucial to consider what type of breed you are feeding.
Even though all breeds can benefit from eating puppy food, the exact nutritional needs differ from breed to breed.
Tiny Yorkies aren’t going to need as much food as growing golden retrievers, so keep this in mind while determining the appropriate feeding schedule.
In most cases, foods will give a rundown of what is recommended for different breeds. Questions that you have about this can often be addressed by a vet.
What Your Puppy Needs Matters Most
Is it OK to give a puppy regular dog food? Yes, but only if you are sure that your puppy is getting the right nutritional breakdown when doing so.
Again, your puppy needs food that is high in both protein and calories.
In terms of protein, puppies need about 28% of their diet to be protein to ensure proper growth.
On the other hand, most adult breeds only need about 18% of their diet to be protein.
This amount will change as they grow, just as the number of calories they need daily will change, too.
Consider your puppy’s age, breed, and size to determine what your puppy needs. If you’re still unsure, ask your vet.
Health Conditions Take Precedence
If your puppy has any health conditions, such as allergies or more serious illnesses, the dietary requirements for their conditions take priority.
Some serious conditions, like specific allergies or heart disease, require strict eating plans. These eating plans will typically take precedence over the needs of a puppy.
Your eating plan should still ensure your puppy gets enough protein and calories, but it needs to support their health condition, as well.
If you have a dog with a health condition, work closely with your vet to develop the correct eating plan.
How Long Should My Dog Eat Puppy Food?
Some things about feeding your dog are easier than others.
Most people know that human food, in general, is not great for dogs and can easily avoid feeding it to their dogs.
Other things, like knowing how long to feed your puppy specific puppy food, are harder to figure out.
This is also when most pet parents ask, when can puppies eat adult food?
Most people agree on the following timeline when feeding puppies:
- 6 to 12 weeks
Give your pup puppy-specific food and feed up to four times daily to meet caloric and nutritional needs.
- 3 to 6 months
Give your pup puppy-specific food but reduce feedings to three times daily.
- 6 to 12 months
Switch to adult maintenance food sometime after spaying or neutering as this lowers energy.
Small breeds usually switch around nine months, while larger breeds may wait until 12 to 14 months because they are still growing.
- After 12 months
Feed your dog two half-portions daily of adult maintenance food.
Can a Puppy Eat Adult Dog Food at a Certain Age?
When can puppies eat adult food?
Can puppies eat adult dog food when they reach a certain age, or is there no specific answer about when to switch?
As you can see from the list of ages and feeding recommendations in the section above, there is no specific answer.
For most puppies, you can switch over to adult dog food once they have fully grown into their breed’s size.
If you have a small breed, this will be around seven to nine months. For larger breeds, this could take up to 14 months.
The best way to know the answer to this question is to research your puppy’s breed or talk to your vet about when to make the switch.
Monitor for Over and Under Feeding
In addition to regularly taking your puppy to the vet to ensure they are growing well, you might want to monitor your puppy yourself.
Thankfully, that’s not too hard to do.
You can make a growth and weight chart, which you can use to track the puppy’s growth progress.
There are many sample guidelines online about the rate at which different puppy breeds will grow.
It’s important to ensure you aren’t over or underfeeding your dog in terms of both calories and nutritional composition.
Puppies that are underfed will not grow fast or strong enough; puppies that are overfed may become obese and strain their bodies.
For that reason, you should track your puppy’s growth.
- Weigh your puppy.
It’s easy to weight a puppy. Simply weigh yourself, pick up your puppy, and then weigh yourself again. The difference is the weight of your puppy.
- Measure your puppy.
Try to measure your puppy’s length, height, and girth width whenever you weight them.
- Track and compare.
Track the rate of your puppy’s growth with a chart, and then compare the info you’ve gathered to averages.
With this information, you’ll be able to see how quickly your puppy is growing.
You’ll also notice any growth plateaus and be able to address these problems immediately when necessary.
Is Puppy Food Really Necessary?
Is puppy food really necessary, or can you feed them an appropriate adult dog food?
While buying a specific puppy food isn’t always necessary for feeding your pet properly, it is essential to ensure they get the right nutrition.
Puppies are still growing, so you need to take into account what their bodies need.
As they grow up, you’ll want to consider what is the best food for their breed and health needs.
Just as your body is affected by what you eat, your puppy’s body is, too.
Take some time to research what will keep them in the best shape so that you can play together happily and easily for years to come.