When to Stop Feeding Puppy Food

Proper nutrition is vital for puppies, and puppy food is specially formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of growing, developing dogs. But when should you stop feeding your puppy food and switch to adult food? In short, it depends on your puppy.

Dogs are the most diverse land mammals, ranging in weight from less than 1 pound in some of the smallest breeds to more than 150 pounds in some giant breeds. Because of this huge difference, the time it takes for dogs to reach maturity depends primarily on their expected adult size.

When a dog stops growing

Small dogs mature faster than larger dogs and therefore do not need to be on a diet designed for growth and development (puppy food) long-term. A general rule of thumb is that you can transition to adult dog food once your dog matures or has finished growing, which is usually around 1 year of age for most small to medium-sized dogs. For large and giant breed dogs, this benchmark is delayed because these dogs may not finish growing until they are two years old.

Recipes for all life stages

If you have reservations about whether your puppy is ready to transition directly to an adult maintenance formula, you may want to consider switching to an “all life stages” formula. These complete and balanced diets are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of puppies, adult dogs, and pregnant/lactating mothers as specified by AAFCO. This means your dog can continue to use formula for all life stages throughout adulthood and puppyhood. However, for dogs weighing over 70 pounds (these are giant breeds), the AAFCO statement should say “includes growth of large dogs (70 pounds or more in adulthood)” to keep your large dog happy and healthy.

You can search for dog foods for all life stages in our 2023 Whole Dog Journal Approved Dog Foods list.