Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?

Beagle puppy eating from blue food bowl

With so many pet food options in stores, new pet owners can find themselves asking questions like “can puppies eat adult dog food” and “what exactly should puppies eat?” Making sure your puppy has all the nutrition he needs is one of the most important things to do to make sure they grow into a strong and healthy dog. Read on to discover why feeding puppy food is important for your pup’s help.  

Puppy food vs. adult dog food  

Before picking up a bag of food for your puppy, it’s important to understand how to read the labels found on the bag. Pet food includes a statement from The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO establishes dog food guidelines and in order for dog food to be sold in stores as “complete and balanced,” it must meet AAFCO’s nutritional profile standards.  

There are two dog food nutrient profiles that you should be aware of when choosing food for your puppy:  

  • Growth and reproduction. This means the food is formulated for puppies and pregnant or nursing dogs. 
  • Adult maintenance. This means the food is formulated for adult dogs. 

Look at the label to ensure that you are buying food that is right for your dog’s life stage. 

Can puppies eat adult dog food? 

If the label on the dog food states that it is formulated for “all life stages,” that means it meets the standards for both growth, reproduction and adult maintenance. In short, it’s food that has all the nutrients a growing puppy needs, and you won’t have to switch to a new food when your puppy becomes an adult dog.  

Can adult dogs eat puppy food?  

While adult dogs can eat puppy food, it’s generally recommended that they do not consume it. Puppy food is high in calories and most dogs do not benefit from such a high-calorie diet. In addition, while some dog foods are formulated for “all life stages,” it’s best to feed your adult dog food formulated specifically for adult dogs. Dogs have different nutritional needs than puppies, and it is important that they get the nutrients they require.  

When to transition to adult food  

Generally, puppies begin to transition to adult food when they have reached maturity for their breed size. Most dogs reach maturity at about 12 months, while giant breeds are not mature until 24 months. When feeding a traditional puppy food formulated for growth and reproduction, you’ll want to switch to adult food at your puppy’s age of maturity to avoid unintentional weight gain.  

Remember, just because your puppy looks fully grown up on the outside, it doesn’t mean that he’s stopped growing on the inside. Continue to feed puppy food until your puppy’s age of maturity. His early growth and development is what will set him up for the rest of his adult life. Read our article on transitioning to adult dog food for more information. 

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