Puppy Food Guidelines – Should You Feed Them Only Puppy-labeled Food and When to Start Introducing Adult Dog Diet?

Should puppies be fed only puppy-labeled foods? When should I start feeding my puppy with an adult dog diet? These are the recurring questions asked by many puppy owners. 

In this post, I will attempt to answer these questions and offer some advice to help your dog live healthily. So, continue reading.

There are three stages in a dog’s life – puppy, adult, and senior. As a puppy, the dog is tiny. At this stage, the puppy needs puppy-labeled food for its growth. The “growth” foods must contain higher levels of protein and calorie counts to meet the developmental needs of the pup. 

When to start introducing the adult dog diet

When the puppy is about 6 to 12 months, its food need should change. The pup is getting close to its adult height and should start eating adult food at this stage. It is a stage where you have to lower the dog’s energy needs. This is why the switch from puppy to adult dog diet is essential. 

Why the size of the breed should be taken into consideration 

Introducing your dog to adult food corresponds with their maturity. Since there are different varieties of breeds, they tend to mature at different rates. Smaller breeds tend to mature quicker than larger breeds. Below are some examples:

  • Dogs weighing close to 30 pounds mature between 10 months and 1 year of age.
  • Toy breeds that are small in size mature between 7 and 9 months old.
  • Medium breeds weighing about 80 pounds mature around 12 to 1 year and 4 months.
  • Large breed dogs’ maturity is around 12 to 1 year and 2 months old. 
  • Giant breeds of over 80 pounds may take up to two years before they mature.

Talk to your vet for a recommendation on the best time to begin to feed the dog with adult food if it has some specific needs. Obesity is the most common problem for dogs. Adult dogs no longer need a puppy diet at this stage. 

Two square meals; not three square meals 

Growing puppies with higher energy and metabolism needs should have three square meals per day. But when they make a switch to adult food, you have to reduce the food to two square meals daily. This is because, at this stage, there is a need to cut back on calories and protein.

Switch from puppy-labeled food to adult dog food slowly

Don’t just change to dog adult food instantly. The best way to make the transition is to do it gradually. Take a small amount of adult food and mix it with their favorite puppy food. Increase the amount of dog adult food with time while reducing the puppy food. After one week, start feeding it with dog adult food only.  

Watch the dog; not the food plate

When you are gauging portions for the dog, you have to watch its body; not the plate. Whether the food is finished quickly or left behind should not be the issue. The nutritional needs of a dog are determined by the metabolism and body type, not the amount of adult food served. 

Harmful food for puppies

Some foods you should not give to puppies because their body system is sensitive. Some of them are: 

  • Raw meat
  • Onions
  • Chocolate 
  • Garlic 
  • Grapes 
  • Cheese 
  • Alcohol 


Puppies require puppy-labeled foods when growing since they need strong bones and energy. It would help if you changed to adult food when they are between 6 months and 1 year. This is because, at this stage, their body needs maintenance. 

If you follow the recommendations in this article, your dog will live a good life from puppy to senior.

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