A dog generally continues to eat puppy food until they are right before, or around, one year of age. In determining how long dogs eat puppy food, one must consider the natural weaning stage of a new puppy’s life. Basically, puppy food is considered to be the food that is given to puppies during the stage in which they are weaning from the mother’s milk and are just beginning to eat on their own. This transition is normally a four-to-seven-week stage. After this stage, is when puppies begin the transition to their adult food stage, which is right around the one year mark.
As a basic rule, dogs that are less than one year of age are considered puppies. It is important that they are fed formula pet food that is strictly meant for puppies. However, there might be some variations depending on the breeds. For instance, some toy breeds are considered to be adults at nine months of age while some larger breeds are considered to be puppies until they are two years of age. Puppies develop and grow each day and hence, they need foods that meet their high-energy demands. But as your puppy grows into an adult dog, you need to adjust his diet slowly and in a step-by-step manner.
When to Only Feed Puppy Food?
During the first 12 months of life, a puppy should be fed strictly puppy food. This refers to a diet that is specially formulated to meet his nutritional needs. Puppy food usually comes in the form of dry kibble but is soaked or mushed until gradually the dog is given plain dry puppy food.
By 9 or 10 weeks, larger breeds can be fed dry food several times a day or 12 to 13 weeks for smaller breeds. Between 3 to 6 months, feedings can decrease to three and by 6 to 12 months, feeding can be twice and day and a switch from the food overtly rich in nutrients to adult maintenance food can begin.
Smaller breeds begin this transition at about 7 to 9 months. Larger breeds of dogs can do it at 12, 13, or even 14 months. After a dog has reached the age of one year old, most dog owners are already feeding their puppy’s adult food in adult portions. Just keep in mind, do not rush this procedure. It is always best that puppies stay on puppy food a bit longer than not long enough.
What Is Puppy Food Made Of?
The transition from puppy food to adult food is an important time in your dog’s life. It marks a stage of substantial growth and sets the puppy up for adulthood. Regarding how long do you feed puppy food, you need to understand what this puppy food precisely is.
In terms of a puppy’s diet, puppy food generally contains more protein content than adult dog food in order to sustain this new growth at a faster rate. Calories also play a crucial role in this stage and at this time, a puppy will generally eat a lot. Depending on the breed of dog, most puppies will continue growing during the first year of life.
Puppy foods provide the extra calories and nutrients that young dogs need until they are at least one year old. Depending on the breed of your dog, your vet will be able to tell you when to change from puppy food, more specifically, the exact age of your puppy.
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 that 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.
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 with 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 to 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 make sure 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 usually do not need milk after 8 weeks of age and in fact, stop taking milk a few days before then. However, depending on the breed and the specific health of your puppy, he might need some amount of milk until about 6 to 10 weeks of age. During the weaning period, the best form of milk for the puppy is his mother’s milk, if available. The change from this nursing milk to commercial puppy milk to ultimately no milk should be gradual and well calculated.
Avoid feeding your puppy with cow’s milk because it doesn’t suit most breeds of puppies, especially those that are lactose intolerant. Also, your puppy needs certain levels of phosphorus and calcium to fulfill his nutritional needs at this crucial stage of his life and growth. Cow’s milk does not contain the required levels and is also diluted, implying that your puppy can suffer from diarrhea and get quickly dehydrated.
The commercially-available puppy milk replacer formulas, if chosen well, are good options for your puppy. They can be available 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 the age, breed and overall health of your puppy.
The basic way of preparing any of these milk replacers is by boiling water and letting it cool down to about 150-degrees Fahrenheit. You can then add the powder and blend it into the water inside a swirling bottle. Make sure that you shake the bottle up and down for proper blending. It is recommended that the formula should cool down to 98-degrees Fahrenheit before it is given to the puppy.
When you stop giving your pup milk, make sure that the process is gradual and not sudden. This will let your puppy get used to the transition and eventually, with his/her new diet regime. Be it regarding milk or wet food or any other, vets are the best person to advise on when to change from puppy food because the health and nutritional requirements of each pup vary.