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How Long Do Dogs Eat Puppy Food?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Puppy food is important for meeting a puppy's high-energy demands and providing extra nutrients.
  • Puppies typically eat puppy food until they are around 1 year old.
  • Weaning from soaked food should be a gradual process to prevent stomach upset.
  • Puppies usually don't need milk after 8 weeks, but some may require it until around 6-10 weeks of age.
  • Consultation with a vet is important for determining when to switch from puppy food and what type of milk replacer to give if needed.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Wednesday 28 November 2018
Last updated on
Monday 15 May 2023
puppies eating puppy food
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Dogs typically continue to eat puppy food until they are around one year of age. This is based on the natural weaning stage when puppies are transitioning from their mother’s milk to solid food, which usually takes 4 to 7 weeks. After this stage, they begin to transition to adult food, which occurs around the one year mark.

As a general rule, dogs under one year old are considered puppies and should be fed food specifically formulated for puppies. However, there can be some variations depending on the breed, such as toy breeds being considered adults at nine months and larger breeds remaining puppies until they are two years old. Puppies have high-energy demands and require foods that meet their growth and development needs.

As your puppy grows into an adult dog, you should adjust its diet gradually to match its changing nutritional requirements.

When to Only Feed Puppy Food?

During the first year of a puppy’s life, it is essential to feed them a specialized diet called “puppy food.” Puppy food is specifically designed to meet a puppy’s nutritional requirements. Puppy food typically comes in dry kibble form but can be soaked or mashed to make it easier for the puppy to eat.

Larger breeds of puppies can start eating dry food around 9-10 weeks, while smaller breeds can start at 12-13 weeks. Between 3 to 6 months of age, feedings can decrease to three times a day, and by 6 to 12 months, feeding can be twice a day. It is also recommended to switch from nutrient-rich puppy food to adult maintenance food during this time.

Smaller breeds can begin this transition at about 7 to 9 months, while larger breeds should wait until 12, 13, or even 14 months. Once a puppy reaches one year old, most dog owners switch to adult food and portions. However, it is crucial not to rush this process, as it’s better to keep puppies on puppy food a little longer than not long enough.

when do dogs stop feeding their puppies
When Do Dogs Stop Feeding Their Puppies? Read our related article!

What Is Puppy Food Made Of?

The transition from puppy food to adult food is a significant milestone in your dog’s life. It’s a time of considerable growth and development, which sets your pup up for a healthy and happy adulthood. When should you switch to adult dog food? Let’s dive in!

To sustain a puppy’s rapid growth, puppy food usually contains higher protein levels than adult dog food. Calories also play a crucial role during this stage, as your puppy will generally eat a lot more. Most puppies continue growing throughout their first year of life, but the exact duration of puppy food feeding depends on the breed of your furry friend.

Puppy food provides all the extra calories and nutrients that young dogs need until they reach at least one year of age. Your veterinarian can guide you on when to switch from puppy food, depending on your dog’s breed and age. It’s crucial to pay attention to your pup’s nutritional needs during this transition period to ensure they grow into a healthy and happy adult.

When to Stop Soaking Puppy Food?

The question pertaining to, when to switch from puppy food, is linked to the basic question of when to stop soaking puppy food. Well, soaked food like gruel or mush is ideal to be given for only the weaning period which is the initial 2 months of your puppy. Once this period is over, you should start changing from soaked food but the change should be gradual and one step at a time.

when to stop giving gruel and feeding puppy food
Puppy gruel is given to puppies during the weaning period. Then, dry puppy food is given until the puppy becomes an adult.

Smaller and larger breeds of puppies will start looking fully grown at between six and eight months and around 24 months respectively. But, they are still teenage puppies inside and therefore, still, need high-protein dog food to terminate their growth.

Whether it is a change from soaked food to dry ones or from one brand of food to another, the change should be gradual and also restricted. This is because your puppy’s stomach is very sensitive at this stage and can be easily upset by the change.

So, give them the time to adjust. The best way to go about it is by mixing a little bit of their old food with new one and then, slowly adding more over the course of 10 days till your puppy is used to eating the new form/brand of food.

When you switch from soaked or wet food to dry food, your puppy will automatically take some time to adjust. He will require more water to chew the food actively and will also take longer to eat. The texture will seem odd to him, so ensure food is tasty enough to draw his interest.

It is very essential to remember in this respect that a portion of dry food looks smaller than the same portion of soaked/wet food. So, do not assume that your dog is eating less, once shifted to dry food, because dry foods are anyway more energy-dense, providing your puppy with the required calories.

Do Puppies Still Need Milk After 8 Weeks?

Puppies generally stop taking milk a few days before 8 weeks of age. However, depending on your puppy’s breed and health, they might need some amount of milk until about 6 to 10 weeks of age. During the weaning period, the best milk for your puppy is their mother’s milk, if available. When transitioning from nursing milk to commercial puppy milk and then no milk, it should be done gradually and with careful consideration.

Do not give your puppy cow’s milk, as most breeds of puppies are lactose intolerant. Cow’s milk does not contain the required levels of phosphorus and calcium for your puppy’s nutritional needs. It is also diluted, which can cause diarrhea and dehydration.

Commercially-available puppy milk replacer formulas are a good option for your puppy. These formulas can be found in liquid form or as a powder that needs to be reconstituted. Consult your vet for the precise brand of formula to be given, depending on your puppy’s age, breed, and overall health.

To prepare the milk replacer, boil water and let it cool to about 150-degrees Fahrenheit. Then, add the powder and blend it into the water inside a swirling bottle. Shake the bottle up and down for proper blending. The formula should cool down to 98-degrees Fahrenheit before giving it to your puppy.

When stopping milk, make sure to do it gradually so that your puppy can get used to the transition. Consult with your vet regarding any changes to your puppy’s diet, including milk and wet food, as every puppy’s health and nutritional requirements are different.

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