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Adding a new puppy to your household can be a fun and exciting experience. But it can also raise a lot of questions, like: can puppies eat adult dog food? Most pet health professionals would recommend against it. Why?

Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. Their bodies and minds are growing and developing quickly and benefit from specific nutrients, such as:

  • Protein & Calories - Puppies need more protein and calories than adult dogs to fuel their high-energy, growing bodies. In fact, when a puppy is six to eight weeks old, he needs as much as three times the calories per pound of body weight than an adult dog! This caloric requirement decreases as your puppy gets older and his growth rate slows down.
  • DHA – DHA helps nourish brain and vision development.
  • Calcium and phosphorus – Two essential minerals, calcium and phosphorus help puppies build strong teeth and bones.
  • Antioxidants – While all dogs need antioxidants, like Vitamins E and A, puppies particularly benefit from the power of antioxidants to help support their developing immune systems.

Your new puppy would do best on a healthy, complete and balanced dog food that’s formulated specifically for puppies. One such formula is Purina ProPlan® Savor Puppy Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula, which contains all of the nutrients listed above, as well as real, high-quality chicken as the first ingredient. If you have a large breed puppy, look for a formula specifically made for his life stage AND breed size, like Purina ProPlan® Focus Puppy Large Breed Chicken & Rice Formula. Large breed puppies have special nutritional needs because they grow very rapidly.

In what seems like the blink of an eye, your puppy will grow bigger and start looking like an adult. You may begin to wonder, when can puppies eat adult dog food formulas?  The general rule is that puppies can begin eating an adult dog food formula when they stop growing. However, the age at which puppies stop growing is different for different breed sizes. Use this chart and talk to your veterinarian to help you determine when to transition your puppy to an adult formula:



<20 lbs. 

10-12 months

20-50 lbs.

12-14 months

>50 lbs.

24 months

At the same time, you might wonder whether it’s easier to simply leave him on his current puppy formula. If he’s thriving on it, can adult dogs eat puppy food formulas? While it won’t hurt him, it’s best to transition your newly adult dog to an adult formula so he receives the proper nutrition. Adult dog formulas often contain less protein and calories than puppy formulas, because adult dogs’ bodies are no longer growing. Switching him to an adult formula is important to help him avoid weight gain and maintain an ideal body condition.

Starting your puppy off right with the proper nutrition is one of the greatest gifts you could give him. It sets the path to support a lifetime of health, so hopefully you can enjoy many, many happy years together.

[SOURCES: Purina’s “A Lifetime of Wellness”]