Can a Puppy Eat Adult Dog Food? Let’s Find Out!

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Author: Jacob Kay

As a new puppy parent, it’s only natural to want to provide the best possible care for your furry friend. With so many options available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when it comes to choosing the right food.

Some pet owners consider feeding their puppies adult dog food to save money, but is this the right choice?

In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between puppy food and adult dog food and help you understand why it’s important to provide your puppy with the right nutrition. So, let’s get started and learn all about feeding your new best friend!

Different Nutritional Needs of Puppy & Adult Dog

Puppy and adult dog
ValSN – Shutter stock

The reason that puppies and adults have different nutritional needs is that they have important differences between them. They work differently, so they need different types of nutrients.

Puppies tend to grow rapidly, dogs usually complete their growth in the first two or three years of life. This growth requires different resources. Specifically, it means that puppies require more amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), and therefore tissues than adults do.

Why Cannot Adult Food Be Served to Puppies?

Dog not eating food
Eva Blanco – istock photo

Adult dog food has less protein, calories, and fats when compared to the diet of a puppy as it needs such nutrients for body growth, which at this point is not required by an adult dog. However, once a puppy grows, the owner should avoid giving foods with high protein and fats; as it can make the dog overweight.

For example, “The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that puppy foods (food for growth and reproduction) contain a minimum of 22.5% protein, while adult dog foods (adult maintenance) only need to have 18%. The AAFCO also recommends that puppy foods contain a minimum of 8.5% fat and 1.2% calcium, while dog foods should have only a minimum of 5.5% fat and 0.5% calcium.”

Some owners choose to feed a raw food diet. This involves providing raw meat, bones, and vegetables. Check our guide on, "how to switch to raw dog food" for more details.

What Can Puppies Actually Eat?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes dog food guidelines, and in order for a portion of dog food to be sold in stores as “complete and balanced,” it must meet AAFCO’s nutritional profile standards.

There are two dog food nutrient profiles that you should be aware of when choosing food for your puppy. One is “growth and reproduction” (which is the designation for a food formulated for puppies and pregnant or nursing dogs).

The other is “adult maintenance” (which means that it’s formulated for adult dogs). Look at the label to ensure that you are buying food that is right for your dog’s life stage.

When choosing the best dry dog food for your puppy, look at the label to ensure you are buying food formulated for your puppy's life stage.


1. When to switch from puppy food to adult food?

Most dogs change their diet between the age of 18-24 months. However, this date varies for each and every dog, you must consult your vet before making such a change.

2. What are the components of good puppy food?

Good puppy food contains high calories, ample protein, and essential minerals and vitamins to support growth and health. Adult dog food may not have the proper balance of these nutrients and can hinder a puppy’s development, so it’s important to choose quality puppy food.

3. Can dog food make a puppy sick?

No, there is very less chance that your puppy might fall as it is ‘dog food’ only.

4. Can adult dogs eat puppy food?

Yes, they can, but it will not lead to any specific health benefits. As adult dogs do not require much fat and calories. Eating puppy food may rather make them more obese. However, extremely active dogs can handle such high caloric values of puppy food.

The Bottom Line

‘You should feed puppy food to puppies and feed adult food to adult dogs.’ Both types of food are made after effective consideration and should be followed as such. Along with providing your puppy with the proper nourishment, exercise and mental stimulation are equally crucial.

If your dog is older, seek foods that support healthy bones and joints; for puppies, locate foods that support the development of their bones, joints, and muscles. It all depends on where your dog is at the moment.

If you wonder why is my dog not eating his food anymore, it could mean it's time to transition to a different dog food formula suitable for his current life stage.


  1. Mansourian, E. (2022, March 21). Puppy Feeding Fundamentals. American Kennel Club. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  2. Center for Veterinary Medicine. (2020, February 28). “Complete and Balanced” Pet Food. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  3. NCBI – WWW Error Blocked Diagnostic. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  4. Team, C. N. (2016, August 11). When your baby isn’t such a baby anymore – when to switch to adult foods. Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  5. Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Pet Foods | OSU Veterinary Medical Center. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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