Can Adult Dogs Eat Puppy Food? (Is Puppy Food Safe?)

Simply put, making your furry friend eat the same food that they did when they were young is like saying that we should go back to eating baby food.

The thought might sound fascinating, and I still cannot deny those yummy flavors and convenient packaging of baby food, but if we still happen to keep consuming baby food, then we will only be experiencing obesity.

A similar concept is applicable to dogs as well. Small puppies have different nutritious requirements, while an adult dog might require something else, which is why when it comes to puppy food, it is not considered ideal for adult dogs. Read the word ‘ideal.’

If in case you don’t have any other alternative available and giving your dog puppy food just for one day is fine and can be done, but making it a habit can, in the long term, deteriorate the health of your precious dog.

The nutritional requirement varies according to the size, age, and gender of the dog, so a puppy’s diet should not be compared with that of an adult dog.

However, this is just part of a whole answer and in order to understand the fundamental difference between the dietary needs of a puppy and a dog, keep reading!


The simple answer is yes. But should you? No. The core behind this statement is that we believe it is not ideal to feed puppy food to adult dogs because of its concentration of fats and carbs, which are essential for the growth of a tiny baby pup.

Puppies are given high-calorie dog food because they have just transitioned from their mother’s milk, and now, in order to grow, they need to eat the required nutrients; hence puppy food is jam-packed with high calories allowing puppies to have stronger bones and become heightened.

Now, since adult dogs have already reached their maximum potential and there is little to no chance of further growth then, eating high-calorie food items daily can lead to obesity, and the worst-case scenario can lead to diabetes as well.

Puppies are able to burn off calories more quickly than adult dogs because of their high metabolism, which becomes another reason why puppies are given a high concentration of fat food items because it will aid in growth.

Adult dogs have a slower metabolism than puppies, which means that extra calories will become extra stored fat, which might lead to more significant health risks in the long run.

Puppy food comes in excess amounts of fat, proteins, and calories because of which puppies are able to grow faster, but if adult dogs start eating puppy food, then they will be receiving these nutrients in excess, which will cause issues like:

  • Diabetes
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Joint pain
  • Less mobility
  • Higher cholesterol levels

All these issues seem minor, but in the long term, these factors can trigger more significant problems that might require extensive care and capital as well, which is why we recommend skipping puppy food altogether when it comes to adult dogs.



First things first, puppy food might come in small bites, because of which many pet parents assume that puppy food might have lesser calories, so it’s alright to feed it to adult dogs on a daily basis, but this is far from the truth.

Puppy dog food comes in excess of everything as compared to adult dog food because, remember, the aim of puppy food is to make the puppies proliferate and develop muscles along with strong bones.

Since adult dogs have already achieved this factor, then feeding them higher amounts of fat and proteins can set off greater concerns.


As mentioned, puppy food comes in a higher concentration of proteins. For example, a standard serving of puppy food has 30 percent of proteins while a typical serving of adult dog food has only 18 percent of proteins.

Proteins are vital to the growth of dogs because not only do these become fuel and energy for the body, but also proteins help develop muscles and strength, but the key is to remember that puppies need more energy and strength to sustain; hence puppy food comes with a higher concentration of proteins.


Puppy food has a fat percentage of around 22, while a standard serving of adult dog food has less or equal to 18 percent but not more than that.

This is an indication made by the company’s whole produce dog food that adult dogs do not require fats more than 18 percent in their servings, but small puppies require a lot of it because of their growing body and their transition from breast milk to puppy solid foods.

The puppies transitioning phase is the most essential phase because if the puppy does not receive a relevant nutrient percentage in time, then puppies become victims of more major health risks like weakness and other deficiencies.

This is why small pups are at a greater risk of death as opposed to adult dogs because adult dogs have more stored energy as opposed to puppies.


A similar concept can be applied to the overall calories as well. Since puppy food has higher amounts of proteins and fat, then it must have higher calories as well as opposed to an average serving of adult dog food.

Puppy food has around 300 to 400 calories per cup of food, while adult dog food has about 200 to 300, capping at 300 because if it goes beyond that, then your doggo might become obese.

Dogs need energy for movement while puppies need power for not just movement but for muscle growth, bone growth, and energy consumption; hence it makes sense for puppy food to be high in different nutrition because we want our small fur balls to reach their full potential.


One of the most important minerals is calcium for not just developing bones but for retaining their strength as well. Puppy food has around a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 18 grams of calcium, while adult dog food has a minimum of 0.5 to a maximum of 1 gram of calcium.

Now imagine if you kept feeding high concentrations of calcium to your dog on a daily basis, then they become victims of bone diseases like rickets and other mobility issues that may cause pain and difficulties.

Puppies don’t mind consuming ampler amounts of calcium because, as I mentioned, they need it for their bone growth, and when babies are growing (whether it’s dogs or any other creature), calcium is crucial.



As mentioned previously in the article, it is best to avoid the use of puppy food when it comes to our adult dogs, but obviously, there is always an exception to the rule.

The key note to remember is that puppy food is significant (beyond needed) high in nutritious value for an adult dog, while traditional dog food is not as nutritional. Hence the following situations are where it can be allowed to feed your precious pup some delicious puppy food.

If your queen dog is pregnant!

We all know that moms who get pregnant need McDonald’s meals for two, right? The same goes for our queen dog moms because, just like humans, dogs also require more energy to give birth to their babies.

Hence notching up the food from standard to puppy food is a good trick that is often encouraged by VETs because it provides the required amounts of fats and proteins ensuring the safe birth of baby pups.

The mother dog doesn’t just need energy for her kids but also for herself. For example, the amount of energy being used to move while pregnant with four to six pups is a lot.

This is why many VETs recommend shifting to puppy food and other highly nutritious value food to ensure the safe delivery of cute puppies.

After birth

Higher nutrition isn’t just required during pregnancy, but its also required post pregnancy as well since mother dogs are using the energy to produce milk over weeks and at the same time being able to recover from the process of birth which is why in such a scenario it is ideal for shifting to puppy food and other valuable food items.

We do recommend, though, to advise your VET beforehand and check to see if it is alright to feed puppy food to your specific adult dog because every dog has a different set of needs.

If your dog is weak and underweight

Many shelter dogs that initially reach the shelter are not fed properly, and many are suffering from various injuries and health concerns which is why they are sickly looking.

Shelters feed puppy food to such dogs for a few months until those dogs have gained muscle mass and the energy to move and run.

Once they have that energy, they slowly transition away from puppy food to regular dog food to ensure that other health risks are not being triggered, like diabetes and excessive fat gain.

The same ideology is applied to any other weak dogs. Many dogs just happen to need more nutrients than other dogs, so if your dog is frail and, regardless of what you are feeding, there is no significant growth, then I would personally advise you to try puppy food. Just ensure to consult with a VET prior to feeding the puppy food.



A general question that many pet parents want to enquire about is how long they need to keep on feeding puppy food to young dogs, and the key is simple.

  • When it comes to small toy dogs, you generally want to keep feeding them for 9 to 10 months until they have reached an average weight of 20 pounds or a little less.
  • When it comes to medium dogs then, you might want to keep feeding them puppy food for approximately 12 months until they have reached the weight of 21 to 50 pounds. This again depends on different breeds of dogs; however, if your pup’s weight is still less than 21, then consult with a VET immediately and do a thorough check-up
  • When it comes to large or massive dogs, you want to keep on feeding them puppy food until they have reached the age of about 12 to 13 months, and an ideal weight for such breeds would be between 50 to 100 pounds. Just make sure that they are not too overweight because that might trigger other hidden health risks.


There are many questions that come into the mind of a curious dog parent, and we have gathered a few questions that we believe might help you out in order to make the right decision.

Why is adult dog food crucial?

One of the major reasons why adult dog food is vital is because adult dogs have reached their full potential. As with humans, there is a certain age till when you grow, so even if you eat a lot then, you might not be gaining weight because you’re still growing.

But now that your true potential has been reached, eating more than the required nutrients will make you obese, leading to high cholesterol levels and diabetes, which in the long term can reduce your life span.

The same goes for dogs. Adult dog food is important because it only gives the required nutrients and does not give anything more than that; hence adult dogs are able to sustain their weight.

How to help my dog transition from puppy food to adult dog food?

The key is to keep adding adult dog food onto the plate and slowly transition daily. For instance, from day 1 to day 3, you can keep feeding puppy food but add a quarter of adult dog food so that your puppy doesn’t feel a major shift in his palette.

On days 4 to 6, you can add half puppy food and half adult dog food. If you feel that your dog is a little curious and is not eating the entire plate of food, then try going in with a treat to reinforce the positive behavior of eating adult dog food.

From day 7 to 9, you might want to either change either plate to adult dog food or just about ¾ of the plate, but on day 10, it would be ideal to shift it entirely to an adult dog food plate.

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Jackob Evans

Hi, I’m Jacob. I’ve been a professional blogger for over six years, and in that time, I’ve written countless blogs that have helped millions of people worldwide. A DVM by profession, I have treated and cured thousands of dogs, if not millions.

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