Over a dog’s lifetime, he will go from an all-milk diet to puppy chow to adult dog food, all within the first year or so of his life. Understanding when to transition from one to the other and how much to give him is essential for proper growth and well-being.
For the first three to four weeks, a puppy should only be fed his mother’s milk or a milk replacement formula. At the three- to four-week mark, you should start to seclude him for a few hours a day while you introduce him to a bit of moist puppy food or dry food you’ve added milk to make a gruel consistency. This will allow him to explore and learn how to eat solid food. By seven or eight weeks, he should be eating only puppy food. Puppy food is specifically designed to have concentrated nutrients for a growing puppy body. The extra nutrients, vitamins and minerals help his bones, muscles, joints and organs grow.
Adult dog food, whether it’s dry, moist or semi-moist, is formulate to maintain his weight, repair tissue damage that occurs and supply adequate energy needs. The nutrients aren’t as concentrated, such as the high calcium content of puppy food, because his body is done growing rapidly and has no need for extra growing support. Puppy food fed to an adult dog can actually cause growth and weight problems.
Switch your puppy to adult dog food around 1 year of age. Depending on the breed you have, it may be slightly before or after the one-year mark, so ask your vet for specific instructions for your dog. When it’s time, transition between foods over a week. Replace a small amount of puppy chow with some adult food and mix the two together. A couple of days later, mix equal parts together. Two days later, mix at a 75 percent adult to 25 percent puppy ratio. Two days later offer a whole serving of adult dog food.
The amount you give a puppy or adult dog depends on his age, activity level and weight. Look on the back of your chosen high-quality dog food for the recommended portion size. A dog food calculator, such as DogFoodAdvisor.com, can give you a suggested daily amount according to your dog’s weight and activity level. Your best bet is to consult your veterinarian if you have doubts or questions.
Due to the smaller size of their tummies, puppies need to eat more frequently. Puppies that are 8 to 12 weeks of age should be fed four times daily. Between 3 to 6 months, a pup should be fed three times daily. At 6 months, reduce the feedings to twice daily. Adult dogs only need to have a morning and evening meal, spaced 8 to 12 hours a part. Regularly scheduled meals that fall at the same time every day are best.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images