In the blink of an eye, your canine friend has grown from a wee puppy to a full-fledged adult. Find out how your dog’s dietary needs change in the process of reaching maturity.
You might have done extensive research to find out exactly what your pup requires for food before you brought it home. However, just like human children, puppies grow up all too quickly – and soon, you find yourself with a full grown dog on your hands, which steadily seems to dislike its puppy food. We get the full picture of changing your young dog’s diet to something more suitable, without causing complaint or stomach trouble on their part.
Why do we switch?
Transiting your pup from puppy to adult food can be an exciting moment, as it represents a new stage in your canine friend’s life. Yet, besides its emotional significance, it is also a very important step health-wise. There is a major shift in the nutritional needs as well as calorie intake when your dog approaches adulthood. As puppy food is generally rich and high in calories to support its rapid growth during puppyhood, this might result in overindulgence and cause obesity, especially when the metabolism rate of your dog starts to slow down. This is in contrast with adult food formulas, which is often less rich. Yet, it is more densely packed with the necessary nutrients and minerals such that it adequately supplies for your dog’s needs – even though your older dogs eat less. Furthermore, prolonged intake of puppy food may also cause digestive problems or orthopedic issues in mature dogs, making the switch one of absolute necessity.
When do we switch?
While realising the importance of switching food might be an easy task, grasping the time to switch can be a little more tricky and rather confusing for any dog owner, as there’s ton of different advice out there on the Internet. Consult your vet for a rough gauge, or simply take note when your dog has stopped growing and has reached its full height. Another sign that it might be ready is when it starts losing its appetite for puppy food, hence eating less and less of it. As such, this transitional time can start from anytime from a few months to even years, depending on your dog’s breed. As a general rule of thumb, small breeds also mature faster than larger breeds, with the former maturing around 10 – 12 months and latter taking possibly up to two years to reach their adult height, and thus maturity.
How do you switch?
To keep your growing pet happy and healthy, it’s best to do the dietary transition in a gradual manner, allowing it stomach time to get used to the new diet while preventing any upset stomachs and loose stools. This can be done over the course of a week, with the first few days having a higher percentage of puppy food and minimal adult food (for example, 75% and 25% respectively). Gradually up the level of adult food daily by a little, and decrease the amount of puppy food correspondingly till at the end of the week, it has evolved to consuming a completely adult-food formula. If your dog doesn’t seem to be taking to the new food despite that, don’t be so quick to dismiss this strategy and revert to puppy formula. Rather, try an alternative meat base for adult food such as salmon, lamb, chicken or fish. Also remember to find specific food formulas suitable for large breeds or small breeds. Last but not least, try to be encouraging to your dog as it tries out the new food, showering it with more praise, playtime and possibly feeding the treats that it loves from time to time. Soon, your once-puppy will be a happy full-grown dog that absolutely loves mealtimes!