How long can a dog eat puppy food? The Ultimate Guide

Why Adult Dog Food is Important

Puppy food is nutrient rich and high in calories to support your puppy’s growth, development and high energy levels.

Continuing to feed puppy food past the point of maturity could cause him to become overweight, which can lead to other health problems.

Choose a complete and balanced adult dog food formula once your puppy reaches maturity to help him maintain his ideal body condition.

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How Long to Feed Puppy Food

Puppies need a complete and balanced puppy food until they reach maturity. Although dogs who are one year or older are often considered adults, this isn’t always the case.

For dogs, adulthood depends more on breed size than their age. Because large and giant breeds take longer to mature, they need to eat puppy food longer than small- or medium-sized breeds.

Here’s how long to feed puppy food based on breed sizes:

  • Toy and Small Breed Dogs: Many toy and small breed dogs weigh less than 20 pounds at maturity and reach this size between 9 and 10 months of age.
  • Medium Dog Breeds: Medium-sized dogs weigh between 21 and 50 pounds at maturity. They tend to reach maturity around 12 months of age.
  • Large & Giant Breeds: Large breeds and giant breeds weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, respectively, and can take 18 months to 2 full years to reach maturity. They need to eat puppy food longer than small- and medium-sized breeds.
  • If you have a mixed breed dog or aren’t sure how big your dog will be at maturity, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian. They can tell you when to switch to an adult dog food and help make it a successful transition.

    “As puppies get older and reach maturity, it is important to monitor their food consumption. Leftovers in a bowl could signal that your puppy is getting full and needs less calories throughout the day. Start by offering less food per feeding and continue to monitor his body condition,” says Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS.

    How Long Should Dogs Eat Puppy Food

    A dog generally continues to eat puppy food until they are right before, or around, one year of age. In determining how long dogs eat puppy food, one must consider the natural weaning stage of a new puppy’s life. Basically, puppy food is considered to be the food that is given to puppies during the stage in which they are weaning from the mother’s milk and are just beginning to eat on their own. This transition is normally a four-to-seven-week stage. After this stage, is when puppies begin the transition to their adult food stage, which is right around the one year mark.

    As a basic rule, dogs that are less than one year of age are considered puppies. It is important that they are fed formula pet food that is strictly meant for puppies. However, there might be some variations depending on the breeds. For instance, some toy breeds are considered to be adults at nine months of age while some larger breeds are considered to be puppies until they are two years of age. Puppies develop and grow each day and hence, they need foods that meet their high-energy demands. But as your puppy grows into an adult dog, you need to adjust his diet slowly and in a step-by-step manner.