The proper time to switch from puppy food to adult dog food is a common concern. Some recommendations are to switch your pup to adult food when he is 1 year old. However, dogs grow at different rates according to their breed.
Puppy food has more calories and nutritional supplements than adult dog food. The higher content is necessary for your pup's growing and developing body. If a dog stays on puppy food too long, it can lead to obesity and orthopedic problems. Puppy food also has more calcium for developing bones. If your dog is a large breed, the extra calcium can lead to skeletal abnormalities. Too many calories can also cause rapid growth on a developing skeletal frame. This can lead to skeletal tissue damage and joint problems.
Changing from puppy food to adult food depends on the size of your dog as an adult. If he is a small breed and will not exceed 30 pounds, he is mature at 10 to 12 months old. Some small breeds are mature before 10 months of age. Medium breeds are dogs that do not exceed 80 pounds at full growth. They mature at a slower rate and reach maturity between 12 to 16 months. Large-breed dogs are dogs that are over 80 pounds at adult weight. They can take as long as two years to mature.
The guidelines for maturation are as stated -- guidelines. Some dogs are ready to transition to adult food before they reach their full growth. If your dog is eating less of the puppy food, it may be the food has too many calories for him, even though he hasn't reached his maturation. If your pup's maturation is 12 to 16 months and he is slowing down his eating at 10 months, you can consider changing to adult food.
It's important you don't change your pup's food in one day. This can cause loose stools and upset stomachs. Begin the transition slowly by adding some of the adult food into the puppy food. Take a week to complete the transition. This gives your pup plenty of time to adjust. If your puppy was fed a good-quality puppy kibble, continue with a similar quality kibble. If you switch from a low-quality puppy chow to a high-quality kibble, decrease the amount of food you give your pup. Higher-quality kibbles are nutrient-dense, so your dog needs less food.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.