Puppy food is very rich in fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, making it perfect for the growing bodies of young pups. Unfortunately, this makes the food a bit too rich for adult pooches and feeding it to Fido could even make him sick. If you've been feeding your pooch puppy food, it's time to graduate him up to an adult formulation that's more appropriate for his life stage.
High Fat Foods Are Bad for Adult Dogs
Puppy food has a higher fat content than adult dog food, which helps to support healthy growth in little pups. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all puppy foods that follow the feeding profiles of the Association of American Feed Control Officials contain at least 3 percent more fat than adult dog foods. This difference can make your adult pooch sick because high-fat foods can cause pancreatitis in our fully-grown canine companions, according to WebMD. A fatty meal like a portion of puppy food could trigger this condition, which causes vomiting and diarrhea due to the inflammation and swelling of the pancreas.
Worsening Existing Medical Conditions
Puppy foods that follow the feeding profiles recommended by the AAFCO contain a minimum of 22 percent protein, which is 4 percent higher than adult foods. Food for puppies also contains higher amounts of phosphorus and sodium than adult formulations. The extra protein and minerals provide a growing pup with extra energy and support for growth. If your adult pooch, who is suffering with an existing medical condition like kidney disease, eats puppy food, it could make him sicker. While high protein diets don't induce kidney problems, if your pup is already experiencing them, the extra protein combined with the extra minerals could tax his kidneys and lead to vomiting, diarrhea or even kidney failure.
An Upset Tummy Is No Treat
Because puppy food has a higher fat and protein content than adult dog food, it's more palatable to dogs of all ages. Unfortunately, giving it occasionally to your adult pooch as a treat could result in some gastrointestinal distress for Fido. New foods of any kind can trigger some tummy upset in your pooch, especially high-fat ones like puppy food. Your pooch may also have a food allergy or intolerance and react badly to an ingredient in the puppy food. If he continues to react to an adult dog food containing similar ingredients to the puppy food, consult your vet about putting Fido on a hypoallergenic diet.
What About Mother Dogs?
The only adult pooches who need puppy food are pregnant and nursing mother dogs. Like their offspring, these dogs require added protein, fats, vitamins and minerals in their diet to support the growth of their puppies in the womb and to produce milk to feed them. If your expectant mama pooch is reacting to her new diet with vomiting or diarrhea, try introducing it more slowly to her. Mix the puppy food with her old diet, increasing the amount of puppy food by 25 percent every few days and decreasing the old diet by the same amount, until you're only feeding her puppy food. Transition her off of the puppy food once she's weaned her younglings.
- ASPCA: Vomiting
- petMD: What to Do When Your Dog Vomits or Has Diarrhea
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
- Country Living: Is It Unhealthy for an Adult Dog to Eat Puppy Food?
- The Canadian Veterinary Journal: Do High-Fat Dog Foods Predispose Dogs to Pancreatitis?
- petMD: Kidney Failure (Long-Term) in Dogs
- WebMD: Pancreatitis in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments
- ASPCA: Pet Nutrition Service
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.