Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG CARE

Switching to Adult Food from Puppy Food

by Cesar Millan

I am reading conflicting information about when to transfer our puppy from puppy food to adult dog food. Our vet says anytime between 6 and 18 months for our type of dog (Basset hound). The dog food guide says 12 months, the 30-year pet store owner says 6 months, and our back-up vet says 12 months at the longest. My gut instinct says, because a Basset’s bone structure is not fully developed until about 18 months old, keep her on puppy food until she's 18 months, but she's not interested in her puppy food anymore and as of late goes several days at a time without eating. When she does eat it's only about a cup and a half. She's exuberant and playful and drinks plenty of water, so I am not sure what is left other than maybe she is ready for adult dog food?

-Tish Beavens

Cesar Millan's answer

This is one of the most common questions that I get from puppy owners. There is a lot of conflicting information out there that makes it very hard for pet owners to know which guidelines to trust. Making the transition from puppy to adult food at an appropriate time is important because there is a major shift in regards to the caloric needs and nutrition requirements of your puppy as she approaches maturity. Puppy food is very high in calories and nutritional supplements, so feeding it too long to a mature dog can result in obesity and orthopedic problems.

In general, you want to make the change to adult food when your puppy is approaching her adult height. The problem is that different breeds mature at different rates due to the wide range of variation between breeds. A rule of thumb to remember is that smaller breeds tend to mature faster than large breeds. Small breed dogs up to 30 pounds mature around 10 to 12 months of age keeping in mind that some toy breeds can mature even earlier. Medium breed dogs up to 80 pounds mature between 12 to 16 months and your Basset hound falls in this category. Large and giant breed dogs weighing more than 80 pounds can take up to two years to reach full maturity.

These are guidelines only and as you may have noticed they can differ from other guidelines out there. So which guideline is the best to follow? Should you follow the vet’s, the pet store owner, or the dog food company’s? The best guideline to follow is your puppy’s! In your case, she is already rejecting the puppy food and showing a preference for the adult food. The puppy food likely has too many calories for her so she feels less of a need to eat when she is on the puppy food. You did not state her age but as long as you are within the general guidelines it is safe to make the transition to adult food.

One final tip for puppy owners about changing food is to do it gradually. Mix in increasing amounts of the adult food with the puppy food over the course of a week while decreasing the amount of puppy food. By the end of the week you should only be feeding the adult food. Making the change gradual makes it less likely that your dog will experience loose stools and upset stomachs.

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