Changing Puppy Food: When and How To Switch a Puppies Diet

To best accompany your dog in its different life stages, good pet owners need to know when to change their nourishment, why, and how.

Whether your canine is on a prescription diet from your veterinarian due to a health condition with special needs, you are looking at changing puppy nosh to senior dog food, or how to manage the diet transition schedule for adult dogs, all the information that you need is right here. 

Changing puppy food is an important step in your dog’s life and doing it right requires more than just changing dog biscuits from one day to the next! And, that goes for any diet transition, puppy, adult foods or otherwise. 

As pet parents, it’s our job to ensure that our pets are always getting the right nourishment and the correct nutrient levels for their age, breed, and current health situation. See below for when to switch puppy to dog food.

Should We Switch a Dog’s Food?

Some common health conditions require pet parents to switch their dog’s food. That might mean a new brand of kibble or new food altogether.

If your dog is refusing their food, then they could be telling you that they no longer like it or that they no longer have an appetite, meaning that something could be wrong. Depending on the reason, you may have to transition their food to better help them recover. Your vet, of course, will tell you if this is necessary. 

Diet changes are also needed when a puppy grows up, after surgeries, when a dog begins to age, etc. A senior pet is going to need a vastly different diet from that of a puppy.

The Right Way to Switch

However, when it comes to changing your dog’s diet, be sure to do so carefully. Sometimes, going from one extreme to the next can be very damaging. Be sure to follow your vet’s guidance as they will know how to best help your dog adapt to their new lifestyle. If you are looking into how to change dog food quickly, it’s actually worth being patient instead.

How to Choose the Right Dog Food 

When it comes to choosing the right dog food, all pet parents need to take a few things into account: 

  • Your dog’s age. Their age matters a great deal when choosing their food, as their bodies will need specific nutrients (to help them grow, to match their activity level, to help with certain health issues, etc. ) 
  • Your dog’s breed. Naturally, bigger dogs need more hearty and more calorie-dense foodstuffs, whereas smaller dogs will need smaller portions and easier foods on their stomachs. No matter the breed, dogs deserve careful attention when it comes to nutrition.
  • Their teeth. Although we do sometimes forget, looking after your dog’s teeth is very important – when it comes to their food, in particular. If you have an older dog who may have lost, are losing, or has weakened teeth, then hard dried food will not be easy for them to eat.
  • The ingredients. Although it may take some time, you should always know what your dog is putting into their mouths and where it comes from! You owe it to your pet – a puppy, adult canine or otherwise – to give them new food that makes a positive difference.

7 Reasons we Might Need to Change Dog Foods 

Every dog owner will tell you that they had to change their dog’s food at some point, or maybe at multiple stages in their lives, often due to common health conditions. Here are a few of the reasons why that could be: 

They’re Growing Up 

As a puppy grows into an adult dog, its metabolism slows down, just like it does with us humans, and that’s when you need to switch your puppy from baby to adult dog food. 

When they’re babies, they need the best high protein dog food, which also has a higher calorie content. They need those extra calories and nutrients when they are younger to help them grow and keep enough energy throughout the day. Still, as they become adults, the extra calories will just make them gain weight fast, and senior dog food is better suited to their newer metabolism state.

How Long does it Take a Puppy to Adjust to New Food?

A puppy can experience diarrhoea if its food is changed too fast. It should take around 2 weeks introducing feeding a quarter amount of the new stuff for 2-3 days then after a week making it half and half, if there are no stomach problems, you can then change after about a week and a half to two weeks.

Personal Preference

Again, as is the case with humans, a dog’s tastebuds are going to change. What they once used to love to eat may become inedible to them at some point. You will be able to see if your dog’s tastes have changed in any way as they simply will not eat their dinner. Some dogs even try covering up their food with something if they do not like the taste. It’s important to switch your dog’s food if they do not enjoy it.

A Picky Pooch

No matter the breed, dogs can sometimes be picky – so keep an eye on what your pet loves to nosh, but don’t let him be too picky. Yes, Fido might love sirloin steak, but a steak-only menu won’t provide him with the right nutrition.

After Neutering 

A dog’s energy levels tend to transition after being spayed or neutered, meaning that they will no longer need as many calories per day. In fact, feeding them the same diet that they were on pre-surgery will inevitably lead them to gain weight, bringing a whole new set of problems! 

If you are switching dog food, you may have come across food brands that market food specifically for sterilized dogs. This usually means that the ingredients have a better protein-to-fat ratio. Always consult your veterinarian for the best food for dogs post-op.


On the opposite scale, a nursing or pregnant dog needs high energy food with high calcium content.

Weight Issues 

As you know, an overweight dog is susceptible to a boat-load of weight-related issues that, naturally, you will want to avoid! Sometimes exercising more isn’t enough and you will need to change your dog’s food.

Some dog food brands specialise in dog food specifically made to help with weight loss. You could also consider making your dog’s dinner by yourself, being sure to choose the sourced ingredients carefully. Consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet to a low-calorie one!

Food Allergies 

Some dogs do indeed have allergies to different foods. Among these are allergies to soy and to grains. 

Sadly, your average dog food brand may use grains as fillers instead of added nutrients. Soy is ever-growing as a popular ingredient in animal food, too – another filler that’s seriously dodgy in a large amount, no matter the brand. Wheat is also a common filler used in pet products.  Wheat-free dog foods can be good to take a break from the same old stuffing – it’s becoming increasingly popular.

If your puppies have food allergies, then you will absolutely have to modify their diet. Be careful to read the ingredient lists on the dog food packages and consult your veterinarian before implementing a dog food transition.

More or Less Activity 

If, for example, you have a working dog, then you will absolutely have to create a balanced diet that will provide them with the energy that they need to get through every day. Is their current food doing enough to support their working day?

On the other hand, if your working dog is entering its retirement years as a senior dog, it will not require as many calories as it once used to. To best handle their decrease inactivity, you will have to adapt their diet to their new situation. 

Fido is Getting on in Years. 

Adult or senior dogs need different things, depending on what could be ailing them in their older age, and most adult dog food will not necessarily give them everything they need.

For example, a dog with joint issues and/or Arthritis could benefit from having fish occasionally or fish oil supplements to help with the inflammation of their joints.

Older dogs also metabolise far slower than they will do at any other age and require all of the nutrients they need in fewer calories. 

Common Health Conditions in Dogs Which May Need a Diet Change 

An inadequate dietary regime can cause a lot of trouble for any living thing, and sadly there is a long list of dog illnesses that are affected by poor nutrition. However, not all health conditions are caused by poor nourishment and improper foods – but food could hold the key to helping regulate the issue. For example: 

Diabetes: Diabetes occurs in pets due to a bad diet or can be hereditary. Either way, a dog will need a top-quality diet to help balance its sugar levels and insulin. 

Heart disease: Heart disease is caused in dogs and humans by a significant build-up of fat in the arteries surrounding the heart. The best way to help with heart disease and hopefully prevent it is by providing good, balanced nutrition for your pet, along with frequent exercise. 

Kidney disease: Dogs with kidney disease are usually prescribed to be on a low-protein diet. This is because the kidneys have to deal with the protein in food. The less protein a dog eats, the easier it is on their kidneys.

Obesity: Although it may appear evident, obesity is a common problem in dogs and can only improve with a transition schedule for a better diet and daily exercise. 

Step by Step Guide to Introducing Adult Food to your Pup 

Switching puppy food from simple grub to adult or senior nourishment is a significant step in your dog’s life. Switching your dog’s food cold turkey can have some severe side effects. Your dog could risk having tummy and digestion issues – constipation, diarrhoea, and/or vomiting, for example. It could also mean that your dog refuses their new food. 

However, if your dog’s current food, or their old food/brand, is causing more upset – then you need to tread carefully throughout the transition. Switching dog food is a gentle process, especially if your pup’s used to their old food.

When switching your puppy from baby to adult food, do so gradually, not to shock their system. 

It is recommended that you subtly add some of their new food to their existing puppy food. Then, over a 7-day period, slowly increase the amount of adult food in the bowl and gradually decrease the amount of your dog’s current food. By the end of the week, your dog’s body will be better adapted to their new food – and your pup will be used to the taste, so should not refuse their dinner! The last thing you’ll want to do is upset their tastebuds as well as their stomachs!

Problems Caused by Changing your Dog’s Food Too Quickly 

Changing the current food your pet enjoys, for any reason, should be done with extreme care. Just as is the case with humans, changing the way your dog eats abruptly could shock their system, causing them severe discomfort or long term upset.

They could end up having gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea, constipation, and/or vomiting.

These are obviously serious issues for a dog of any age, but if your dog is in a weakened state or older already, then these issues could lead to them having more severe and permanent problems. 

One of the best tips we can offer, therefore, is to take care with any kind of transition – foods for puppies, older dogs or otherwise should be handled with care.


Your dog’s dietary needs will evolve in the time that you have them. It is entirely natural and is an essential part of keeping them healthy and happy. Just as our diets evolve from baby food to heartier stuff, to low-cholesterol, low-sugar foods, so do theirs. 

Very much like us, pet diet transition should take place gradually. If your dog needs a nourishment modification for health reasons, always consult your vet for tips on how to remove the old food and products before bringing in any new food. 

Dogs of any size, dogs of any breed, dogs of any age – they all need you to look out for them when it comes to new food and new food transition. Think about how you’d react to these changes! Be sure to browse our other tips and guides, too, on raising and rearing puppies from nursing dogs.

John Devlin

Blogger and owner of George and Henry. Two gorgeous goldens that couldn’t be more different. One is a dream loving and caring, and his sibling is as naughty as can be. When I am not blogging about dogs, I love watching sport and travelling with the family.
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