When and how should I change my puppy’s food?

blue parakeet on hand

Puppies are in a process of rapid growth and development, both physical and mental, which is why they need much more protein, calories, and specific vitamins and minerals than adults. For reference, between 6 and 8 weeks of age they need almost triple the calories of an adult and it decreases as they grow.

They also need a higher concentration of calcium and phosphorus for the formation of their bones and foods that are very easily digestible since their digestive system is still immature. Dog food manufacturers are fully aware of this, so when preparing food for puppies, adults and old people, they not only consider the size of the croquettes but also all these needs.

If you feed adult formulated food to a puppy for a long time, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies causing it to not develop properly and fail to become a healthy adult. For example, they might have bone and joint abnormalities. On the contrary, if your furry has already reached adulthood, that is, if it reached its maximum height and weight, it is time to change it to an adult food because, otherwise, it could gain weight or receive an excess of protein or other nutrients, and even present deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals affecting their health.

So when should you switch to adult food? Clearly, when it finishes its growth process.

At what age should I change my puppy’s food?

There is a mistaken belief that all dogs should be fed from puppy to adult when they have reached 1 year of age; but the truth is that not all furry animals finish developing and growing at this age. The adult age of each furry will vary according to the size of its breed or simile. The smaller it is, the faster they finish developing, and the larger it is, the longer it takes them to reach adult size.

We leave this table for reference:




(change of food)



1 – 4kg

9 months

Chihuahua, Papillon, Yorkshire Terrier


5 – 10kg

10 months

Pug, Jack Russel Terrier, Dachshund, Miniature Schnauzer, English Bull Dog


11 – 25kg

12-14 months

Beagle, Springer Spaniel, Schnauzer, English Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Border Collie, Cocker Spaniel



15 – 18 months

Labrador, German Shepherd, White Swiss Shepherd, Boxer


> 45Kg

18-24 months

Great Dane, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Bull Mastiff, Bernese Mountain Dog

The growth curve of each breed and/or size will indicate more or less what their nutritional and energy needs are, being particularly important in large and giant breeds because being overweight due to feeding or uncontrolled growth can cause joint diseases such as dysplasia of hip and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. In any case, this is a reference, there are other factors to consider such as sterilization, musculature of the breed, lifestyle, gender, pathologies, among others.

The market offers a series of foods specially formulated for young dogs of different sizes. If you are unsure when to switch your puppy to adult dog food, always consult your vet.

Remember that, in addition to food, daily exercise is also very important to promote muscle growth, weight control and to keep your furry happy and healthy.
How to change my dog’s food?

Your pup’s digestive system is sensitive and he can get sick to his stomach if you change his food suddenly. Therefore it is important to give it time to adapt to the new food by making a gradual change of food. Here’s how:

>> First and second day: Mix 25% of the new food with 75% of the old one.

>> Third and fourth day: Mix 50% of the new food with 50% of the old one.

>> Fifth and sixth day: Mix 75% of the new food with 25% of the old one.

>> Seventh day: You can now put 100% of the new food.

If your puppy has a history of digestive problems, for example, if he had parvovirus as a child or frequently had gastritis, we recommend extending this protocol for 14 days instead of 7. In these cases, it is always best to consult your veterinarian to indicate what is the best food for your case.

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By Lee Chun Hei