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Adult dog food is specially designed for dogs that have already grown – so how are you supposed to know when to abandon puppy food?
As a dog owner myself, I decided to find out. Luckily these days I have the expert help of Karren, Swell Pets’ in-house advisor to lend a hand and explain why getting the best food for your puppy can play a key part in their healthy development.
What’s the difference between puppy food and adult dog food?
The basic difference between puppy food and adult dog food is that puppy food has been specially formulated to meet the nutritional demands of growing dogs.
Like humans, puppies grow quickly in their first few months and so they require food that is rich in higher levels of protein, energy and calcium, plus lots of vitamins and minerals compared to adult dogs. The higher levels of certain ingredients in puppy food are just not suited for adult dogs.
An excellent adult dog food is Arden Grange Lamb and Rice, but there’s a whole range of adult dog food available through Swell Pets, that are designed to meet the needs of the different breeds. As you may have read in previous blog posts the size of the kibble in a dog food can also be targeted for specific breeds and ages of dog.
Karren says, “With smaller breed puppies you may want to find a dog food with smaller kibble pieces that are better suited to their small mouths. This makes eating as easy as possible for them.”
When to introduce adult dog food to your puppy?
Part of the reason for the confusion regarding when to switch your puppy to adult dog food is that it is influenced by the breed, activity level and also general temperament of the individual dog.
Karren says, “The breed of the dog is always a factor when deciding to switch, but it can also just come down to the size of the dog. If you have a healthy big dog like a Labrador they will obviously be ready to switch over at a younger age than a sickly Shih Tzu”.
The important thing to watch out for when feeding your puppy is that they are maintaining their optimum healthy weight, without becoming over or underweight. To keep up with your puppy’s rapid growth development they require a puppy food that has been specifically designed to provide for muscle and bone growth.
I own a shih tzu, so I was eager to know when was best to change over for smaller dogs. Karen says, “It does vary, but for smaller dogs like the shih tzu a good age to switch is somewhere between 12 months to two years. With larger dogs such as a Labrador, this time can be cut down from 12 months to around 18.”
Considering that Karren’s three pedigree dogs compete at the highest level at competitions like Crufts, hers is good advice that I’ll be taking to heart.
Should I switch to adult dog food all at once?
Switching from puppy to adult dog food is best accomplished in stages rather than all at once.
“Changing dog food is usually easiest done when you stick with the same brand, at least for the time of the swap over. When sticking with the same brand I suggest a couple of days of mixing the puppy and adult dog food together,” says Karren.
If however, you decide to switch between brands then Karren assures me that mixing the puppy and adult dog foods will still work by simply adjusting how much of the new food is mixed in.
As the weeks progress you can steadily increase the ratio of the new brand adult dog food and allow your pet’s stomach and tastes to adjust to the new food.
What’s the right portion for feeding puppies?
Whether they are a puppy or an adult dog the amount of food you feed your dog should be carefully regulated to avoid obesity or underfeeding. For easy reference, you can use the handy feeding guide like the one below to let you know what is a healthy amount of dog food to feed your dog.
Karren says, “You do have to be quite strict with feeding times. Refer to a feeding guide that you trust, or that is usually provided on the back of the dog food and set regular feeding times of three to four times a day. Just be careful to never feed on demand, since this is a quick way to create a fussy eater and may lead to more serious weight and health problems.
What dog food do I need for fussy eaters?
“Fussy eating can be caused by making pandering to your dog, but may also be that your dog genuinely had a sensitive stomach”, says Karren. To help you cater for the nutritional needs of dogs with sensitive stomachs there is also a range of adult and puppy food, like the Barking Heads Fusspot Salmon and Potato Adult Dog Food that has been specifically developed for dogs with this condition.
Can I use dog treats to train my puppy?
Using treats as a method of positive reinforcement is a trusted method when training your dog. These treats, like the Arden Grange Liver treat paste, or the Harringtons Puppy Dog Treats are the perfect way to reward your dog, but should only be considered to be a complementary dog food alongside your dog’s primary diet.