When Can You Feed Your Puppy Dog Food?

Puppy dog food offers your growing puppy all the nutrition he needs to develop into a healthy adult dog. Feeding your puppy the right dog food diet is important, because if he doesn't get the nutrition he needs as a puppy, he could grow to develop deficiency-related health problems later down the road. Read on to learn more about how and when to switch your puppy to adult dog food.

Puppy Nutritional Needs

Feeding your puppy a healthy diet begins as soon as you bring him home. Puppies shouldn't be allowed to free-feed, because they can eat too much and become overweight. Obesity can increase your puppy's risk of a wide range of health problems, and helping him lose weight once he's gained it is much harder than keeping him slim in the first place. 

From the time your puppy is weaned at eight weeks of age, feed him a high-quality dog food formulated for puppies. If your dog is a giant breed dog, buy a puppy food specially formulated for giant breed puppies. Giant breed puppies and dogs have specialized nutritional needs and need to be fed differently from medium-sized and toy breed dogs.

Teaching Your Puppy Good Eating Habits

Medium-sized and giant breed puppies should be given food twice a day. Leave the food available for 20 minutes, and take it up again if your puppy doesn't eat it all in that time. Once your puppy learns that food isn't always on offer, he'll what he's given when he's given it. Because you're limiting the amount of food he can eat, he won't get fat.

If your puppy is a small or toy breed, offer him food three times a day. Continue feeding on a schedule until your puppy is at least a year old, or 18 months old in the case of a giant breed puppy. After that, you can begin feeding freely, with a minimal chance that your dog will overeat.

Making the Transition From Puppy to Adult Dog Food

Your puppy is ready to eat adult dog food when he's reached 80% of his projected adult body weight. For toy to medium-sized and large breeds, this will occur at 9 to 12 months of age. For giant breed puppies, this will occur at 12 to 18 months of age.

When your puppy is ready to make the switch to adult dog food, do it slowly. Changing his food all at once can cause digestive upset, and a picky puppy may not eat the strange food.

Gradually change your puppy's food by mixing one part adult dog food with three parts puppy food for two or three days. Then feed two parts adult food mixed with two parts puppy food for a few days, followed by three parts adult food and one part puppy food for a few more days. Finally, you can begin feeding your puppy entirely on adult dog food.