When to stop feeding puppy food

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As your puppy’s rapid growth starts to slow, you should be getting ready to feed them an adult formula. The timing is important, but this article will help you work out when to make the switch.

Depending on your dog’s breed, your puppy will usually be ready to transition onto adult food somewhere between seven months to two years of age. Smaller dogs mature more quickly, so they'll be ready to make the switch earlier than large or giant breeds.

You can use this chart as a rough guide, but you should always speak to your vet for tailored advice.

Type Of Dog

When to Give Adult Food

Toy and Small

7 months to 10 months


12 months

Large and Giant

18 months to 24 months

Puppy food is high in calories and nutrients to support the rapid growth that your young dog is going through. When your dog reaches maturity, puppy food is likely to make them overweight.

Keep a close eye on your dog’s physique, and don’t hesitate to speak to your vet if you think they might be piling on a few too many pounds. If your puppy is getting a little overweight, you might need to reduce the amount of puppy food they are getting, or it could be time to transition to adult food. An appropriate diet tends to be more efficient than exercise for weight loss, so portion control is essential.

Using a body conditioning score, you can determine if your dog is overweight. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without too much effort, and they should have a noticeable waist.

Petplan's guide to body scoring your dog - YouTube

It can be overwhelming to select the best food for your growing puppy. But, high-quality nutrition can help prevent a host of health problems further down the line, so it’s worth investing the time and money into finding something that works best for your dog.

Dry food vs. wet food

Most vets recommend incorporating some dry food into your dog's diet, as this helps keep their teeth cleaner than wet food. If your dog is a picky eater, adding a little wet food to the mix can help encourage them to finish their kibble. But, account for these extra calories in your portion sizes!

Raw Food

Some people prefer a raw diet for their dog, which in some cases may benefit your dog's health. There are increased risks with choosing to feed a raw diet, though, so you have to be careful to provide safe, fresh food that has been properly refrigerated. Always speak to your vet before making the transition to raw food.

Grain-free and gluten-free

Grain-free and gluten-free food can suit some dog breeds better, especially those with digestive or joint issues. This diet isn’t suitable for dogs with certain health conditions. Many dogs will do very well with some grain in their diet, so don’t rule it out completely. 

Does choosing food sound a bit complicated? Don’t worry; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at first. It’s a good idea to speak to your vet or a dog nutritionist, but it will all get easier once you’ve chosen a brand that you want to stick with. Don’t forget that you can always change to something else if your dog isn’t thriving!

When your puppy is getting its vaccinations and check-ups, it’s a great time to ask your vet about what age you should switch them over to an adult diet. After all, every dog is an individual. The transition should happen when your particular dog has reached maturity, not just when they reach a general age milestone.

If you try and change your dog's diet in a single day, they will probably suffer from some digestive issues. It’s best to transition from puppy to adult food over at least ten days. Try to plan this in advance, so you don’t end up wasting an open sack of puppy food.

Here’s a suggested schedule for transitioning from puppy to adult dog food:

Day 1 - 2

90% old diet, 10% new diet

Day 3 - 4

70% old diet, 30% new diet

Day 5 - 6

50% old diet, 50% new diet

Day 7 - 8

30% old diet, 70% new diet

Day 9 - 10

10% old diet, 90% new diet

Day 11+

100% new diet!

Once your dog is eating an adult diet, you can consider decreasing from three - four small meals a day to two meals a day. But for food motivated dogs that tend to put on weight quickly, it’s fine to keep feeding three small meals a day into adulthood.

Transitioning your puppy to an adult dog food usually goes without a hitch, but keep an eye on your dog’s weight during the first few months. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet for more advice around when to make the switch.

When to stop feeding puppy food

Puppy food should be fed until a puppy stops growing, at which point they should transition to adult food.

In general, small breed pups mature faster than large or giant breeds, since they have less growing to do. A good rule of thumb for transitioning from puppy food to adult dog food is:

  • 9-12 months old for small breeds (under 25 pounds expected adult weight)
  • 10-12 months for medium breeds (25-50 pounds)
  • 12-16 months for large breeds (50-100 pounds)
  • 16-24 months for giant breeds (over 100 pounds)
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How long should puppies be on puppy food and how do you know when to stop feeding puppy food? We’ve shared everything you need to know about puppy food to ensure your pup gets the nutrition they need to grow big and strong!

What makes a food suitable for puppies?

Puppies are constantly growing and require a diet that is formulated to meet their nutritional needs and supports proper growth and development. This includes appropriate amounts of fat, vitamins and minerals, energy-providing carbohydrates, and other nutrients. More nutritional elements significant to a puppy’s diet and growth include DHA to support brain development, antioxidants to promote a strong immune system, and high protein for lean muscles.

When choosing a food for your puppy, look for the following on the label:

  • Complete and balanced
  • All Life Stages
  • (For large breed puppies) “including the growth of large breed dogs

These statements indicate that the diet is suitable for puppies according to AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. 

Large breed puppies (defined as >70 lbs. fully grown) have extra nutritional needs that contribute to the appropriate and gradual growth of their larger skeletal framework. 

When feeding your puppy, be sure to check feeding guidelines on the bag and consult with your veterinarian to make sure your puppy is getting enough food. Growing puppies may need up to twice the amount of food as an adult dog.

When to stop feeding puppy food

When should a puppy transition to adult food?

The age at which a puppy reaches adulthood (their full-grown size and weight) can vary by breed and other factors. Typically, dogs will be fully grown by age 1, but large breed puppies may continue growing until age 2. It’s important to stop feeding puppy food when the time is right and transition to an adult diet and decrease the amount of food so your dog does not become overweight.

Many dog foods are nutritionally formulated to meet the needs of both puppies and adult dogs so always refer to the label for the AAFCO nutritional statement!

Stella & Chewy’s offers a variety of raw and kibble diets that are formulated to meet your puppy’s needs. Learn more about choosing a diet for your puppy.