Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Is Puppy Food And Adult Dog Food The Same? Puppy VS Adult Dog Food

During my first round as a dog owner, I had a particularly hard time figuring out what to feed my pooches when they got to that awkward age of 8 to 12 months. They weren’t exactly puppies anymore and they weren’t fully grown adults either. Like most dog owners, I did not really understand what the difference between adult and puppy dog food was. I mean, it’s all food made for doggies right? However, with time and experience I have come to understand the fundamental differences and why it is so important to keep the meal plans age-appropriate. We will take a look at all this and more in the sections below.

In a nutshell, puppy food and adult dog food are not actually the same. Dogs have different nutritional needs in terms of composition and proportion as they go through different age groups. This is reflected in the recipes and formulas used by most dog food companies as you will see shortly.

Is There A Difference Between Puppy Food And Adult Dog Food?

Adult dog food is not the same as puppy dog food in many ways. This is because of the different health and survival needs that exist during the different age groups.

Puppies need help growing in terms of size and developing in terms of senses, cognitive function and even gut health.

Adults on the other hand need more support with survival as growth has usually reached the end point in this case. Their food therefore focuses more on providing nutrients necessary to maintain energy levels, support muscle function and provide useful micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

These needs are reflected in the main difference between puppy and adult dog food which is in the composition. For puppy food, there are usually higher levels of development boosters including fish oils for brain development, vitamins for boosting immunity and skeletal supplements like calcium and glucosamine for their growing bones. They also have higher proportions of protein with 22% or more of the calories being from protein sources.

Adult dog food, however, has 15% to 18% of calories from proteins, more carbs and few special compounds unless with specialized formulas.

In addition to this, there are also differences between puppy and junior dog food. Junior dog food is meant for pooches over 3 months for large breeds and 6 months with smaller doggies.

For the most part, junior dog food is similar to puppy food in that it is meant to offer both growth support. However, it is also designed to match the higher energy needs of the older and more active dog and therefore tends to have more calories per serving than the puppy dog food.

Can I Give My Adult Dog Puppy Food? How About Feeding A Puppy Regular Dog Food?

The question of whether not to feed adult food to puppies or puppy food to adult dogs is one that very many of us dog owners have had to consider at some point. The truth is that there is no definite and absolute answer. It depends on a lot of factors.


The first is the size of the dog. With small dogs like chihuahuas and yorkies, you can actually feed adults food that is meant for puppies with no consequences. This is because their small size means that the formulations for younger doggies contain enough maintenance nutrients in terms of quantity and proportion to support them. Feeding the small dog puppy food could also help with weight control and to prevent obesity which is a common problem with small doggies.

With larger dogs, on the other hand, feeding an adult food meant for puppies would be punishing them. This is because their energy needs are much higher than those of smaller dogs. You would therefore have to feed them a lot more than the recommended quantities to get the same maintenance levels of the required nutrients.

The kibble size

This applies mainly when it comes to feeding puppies food that is meant for adults. In addition to the recipes and nutrient balance, adult and puppy food differs when it comes to kibble sizes especially with dry dog food. Feeding younger dogs food meant for adults is a choking hazard due to the large and often unmanageable size of the chewables.

The formula

This also applies if you are considering feeding a very young puppy food meant for adults. You could tamper with growth and development unless you get a dog food brand that supplies the necessary micronutrients and superfood compounds necessary for the progress.

When Should You Switch Your Puppy To Dog Food?

Technically speaking, the puppy age lasts from birth to around 12 to 18 months depending on the particular breed. After this age, your dog is no longer a puppy and has no business surviving on puppy food any further. This is because their bodies are more or less mature both physically and sexually and now only require nutrients to maintain health and support daily life. 

However, switching from puppy dog food to adult dog food is not as easy as simply waiting for their 18 month birthday to do a complete switch up. You have to take a lot into consideration to ensure that the dog not only adapts to the new diet with ease but that their bodies are also ready.

Instead of stopping the puppy food cold turkey, consider slowly easing the old food out while introducing the new one. This is particularly useful when dealing with picky eaters who may need some time to get used to the new kibble size and texture as well as any new flavors. It also ensures that the doggies get as much of the growth and development support as possible before they truly reach maturity.

Start switching puppy food to adult food slowly at about 9 to 12 months for small dogs, 12 to 14 months for medium ones and 18 to 24 months with large dog breeds.

As you do this, make sure to monitor things like weight, coat health, and appetite to make sure that the dog is taking to the new food properly and thriving just as consistently as they did on puppy dog food.

Is All Life Stages Dog Food Good For Puppies?

There is a recent trend in the dog food industry for options designed for all age groups from puppies to adults and even elderly doggies. There has been a lot of controversy among dog owners and scientists in the community as to whether all three age groups actually get a fair deal when it comes to nutritional value from this one-size-fits-all type of formula.

Dog food formulated for all life stages is marked by a maintenance-focused nutrient balance with a lot of calories. This is useful at all ages as it helps to ensure that the dog remains energetic whether young or old. However, this could be problematic with old doggies that are more prone to obesity and younger ones who need more growth support than energy.

Furthermore, these types of dog food rarely, if ever, have the nutrients required to support puppies in their growth. These include special vitamins, healthy fats and other specific developmental compounds for different systems. This means that without supplementation, you might end up with a pooch jacked up on energy but with systems developing at a suboptimal level and rate.

In conclusion, all life stages dog food is not the worst thing that you could feed your little puppy. There are actually some pretty awesome brands out there that provide meals with all the main nutrients required to keep your pooch alive and healthy as you will see in our 3 recommendations at the very end. Just make sure to identify and supplement any missing essential nutrients.

What Is The Difference Between Large Breed And Regular Dog Food?

What you feed a large dog and a small breed are not the same. We are not just talking about the quantity which more or less goes without saying given the specific calorie needs and appetite levels of both dogs. The differences include the nutrient balance which is why it is never a good idea to mix especially if you are considering feeding a larger breed food meant for a small or regular dog.

Before we get into the nutritional requirements, let’s take a look at what it means to be large, regular and small. The size is actually more often than not determined based on weight although the height is also factored in. Large dogs are dogs that are 55 to 60 pounds or more. Medium dogs on the other end weigh 35 to 50 pounds at the point of physical maturity. Finally, small dogs are dogs that are less than 30 pounds with the chihuahua being the smallest at 6 pounds.

In addition to differences in quantity, the diet of a large dog requires more calorie-dense foods to keep up with the large body’s higher demands. Protein calories are particularly important for both energy and strong muscles. They are also prone to bone and joint issues which makes skeletal health supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin very important in the diet.

Regular dogs on the other hand do not need as many calories. They also tend to have lower appetites and therefore eat less in terms of quantity. Finally, they rarely suffer any specific size-related issues and therefore hardly ever require special supplementation in their diet. 

Recommended Products

Get 20% OFF your first order with Ollie by clicking here!

Ollie is a holistic dog food brand that is meant to offer dogs of all ages and sizes access to high quality dog food made from the natural ingredients. In addition to using real protein, they include superfood ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for overall health and optimal multi system functioning of the dog at different ages.

They also include gut-friendly ingredients which are particularly useful for puppies that have gut issues during weaning and older dogs with motility and digestion problems. These ingredients include thyme extract, chicory root and kelp as well as probiotics for dogs at all ages to enjoy. 

NUTRISCA Potato-Free Dry Dog Food for All Life Stages, Salmon Recipe, 15 lb.
  • REAL FOOD INGREDIENTS – Real salmon is the first ingredient; includes peas, chickpeas, fruits and vegetables.

NUTRISCA All Life Stages & Breed Grain Free Dry Dog Food – Nutrisca All Life Stages Dry Dog Food stands out from many options out there in the market as it is formulated for not only all ages but also for all sizes. It is therefore ideal if you have multiple different dogs at different ages in one home so you don’t have to buy and keep track of different dog foods.

Nutrisca dry dog food is made from real ingredients including salmon, chickpeas, as well as fruits and vegetables. These offer the perfect balance of vitamins, grain and starch-free calories, healthy oils and proteins useful at all stages of the dogs’ lives. 

Simply click the banner below to shop now!!

Never heard of Pet Plate? Not sure what it has to offer and why it is worth $4 million dollars of funding?

We researched and reviewed Pet Plate so that you don’t have to.
Learn more >

Pet Plate Finally, you could check out Pet Plate if you want an all-ages dog food option for your furry best buddies. They offer cooked meals that are flash-frozen while fresh to ensure maintenance of the flavor and nutritional quality by the time it gets to the dog’s bowl.

It is made from high quality, all-natural ingredients and is free from artificial additives and byproducts. This ensures that your dog grows up on the very best food out there in terms of nutritional value and quality.

Moreover, they use a special blend of vitamins and minerals which come in particularly handy for the growing pup and the sickly elders who need as much micronutrient support as possible. 

Like it? Share it!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Recommended Reads

Leave a Comment

Rate This Article

1 vote, average: 4.00 out of 51 vote, average: 4.00 out of 51 vote, average: 4.00 out of 51 vote, average: 4.00 out of 51 vote, average: 4.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.

Related Articles


Akita Dog Breed – Your Complete Guide

The Akitas are an elite dog breed bred to hunt bears and known to be very loyal and faithful hunting companions. Hence, they are often intimidating and not friendly around kids and strangers, especially if not socialized early or trained at all. Akitas can easily adapt to cold environments, making them ideal for owners living in colder climates.

Read More »

Rabies Alert In South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health And Environmental Control has issued a rabies alert and a warning on a rabid puppy. The puppy in question is a 7-week-old Tan And White Pitbull that was reported over the weekend of July 24, 2021, to be positive for rabies.

Read More »

Join Our Mailing List

Get the latest news on pets delivered straight into your inbox!