When should I switch from Puppy Food to Adult Food?

Emma Frain 26 November 2021

 As your puppy gets older, you may start to wonder when to switch them from puppy to dog food. When to stop feeding puppy food will depend on several factors, include your dog’s breed and size. Depending on your dog, you may be making the transition any time between the ages of nine months and two years. Read on to discover more.


Why can I not feed puppy food for life?


Puppy and adult dog food may seem similar but they are far from the same. Once your pup is an adult, they simply do not need all that puppy food has to offer. While some owners think puppy food is ‘better’ so consider offering it for life, it is not the best choice for an adult dog and can result in health issues.


If given the choice, many adult dogs would plump for puppy food. It is highly palatable and packs a protein punch. However, these silly guys don’t know what’s best for them. If an adult dog were to continue eating puppy food, they could develop nutritional imbalances and would likely start gaining weight too quickly, becoming obese.


Making the switch at the right time is important so read on to learn more about when to stop feeding puppy food.


Is there a difference between puppy and adult dog food?


There is a bigger difference between puppy and adult food than just the picture on the front of the pack. In fact, they are two entirely different diets.


Pooch & Mutt offer both a wet and dry puppy food, both of which are junk-free and meet all of your little one’s needs. Puppy food is an excellent source of nutrition for growing puppies who are developing at a rapid rate. They need a large amount of calories to ensure they mature appropriately. They also have a high demand for minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorous as their skeleton grows. So, puppy food is more calorie dense and contains a different ratio of vitamins and minerals than adult food does.


Be sure to switch your puppy on to a high quality and well-balanced adult dog food such as Pooch & Mutt’s Adult Superfood.


What age should I make the change?


If only there was one simply answer to the question ‘When to switch my puppy to dog food’? Frustratingly, the answer is different depending on your dog’s breed, size and activity levels.  A Yorkshire Terrier who is not especially active and has matured quickly may be able to switch from puppy to dog food at about 10-12 months of age. Conversely, a Bernese Mountain Dog who is always on the go and the biggest in his litter might need to wait until he is 2 years old to be started on adult food.


A general rule of thumb is:


Breed size

Best age to switch puppy from adult to dog food

Small dogs

9-12 months

Medium dogs

12-18 months

Large dogs

18-24 months

Giant dogs

24 months


If you have a mixed breed and are unsure of their predicted weight, have a chat with your breeder or vet. They should be able to advise you further.


Your clever pup may actually start to ‘let you know’ when to take them off puppy food. You will find they simply don’t need as much food as they used to. They might start to leave portions of their meal behind or even to skip a whole meal. When a puppy has matured, their metabolic rate slows right down and they no longer need the calories that they used to. Their demand for protein is also much lower and so they don’t have the same desire to eat their puppy food.


How long a puppy should eat puppy food for depends on their breed size but also on their desire to do so. If you try to change their diet too soon, they may refuse their adult food and their growth could be adversely affected.


How do I introduce adult food to my dog?


Introductions should be made slowly rather than all in one go.


When to switch your puppy to dog food is only one piece of the puzzle. It is also important that we know how to change their diet. If we rush the transition, it is probable that your little pup will develop unpleasant signs such as flatulence, abdominal bloating, vomiting and diarrhoea. A smooth diet transition should ensure your pup suffers no ill effects.


Most puppies can be changed from puppy to dog food over the course of 5-7 days. Very sensitive pups may benefit from an even longer transition period.


Below is a rough guide to follow:


Switching from puppy to dog food


Ratio of adult food to puppy food

(adult : puppy)

Day One


Day Two


Day Three


Day Four


Day Five


Day Six


Day Seven

100% new adult food


Importantly, the above plan should only be followed if there are no bumps in the road. If, for example, your puppy develops runny poo on day four, we should take a step back rather than ploughing ahead. Go back to the ratio given on day three for a few days. Once all has settled, try transitioning again but with a slightly altered ratio, so the transition takes a little longer. Take it slowly, even if the whole process takes two weeks. Rushing the food change may result in a serious gastroenteritis. Worryingly, it may also cause a food aversion to the new food as the pup will associate it with feeling unwell.


The Take Home Message


If you are unsure when to switch your puppy to dog food, you are not alone. When to stop feeding puppy food depends on a number of factors, including your dog’ growth rate and maturity. Taking your puppy off their puppy food should not be done too soon, as this can lead to nutritional deficiencies and stunted growth.


Never hesitate to ask your vet if unsure about changing your puppy on to adult food.