Can Adult Dogs Eat Puppy food?

As your puppy grows into a full-blown adult dog, you may wonder whether you can keep giving it its favorite puppy food for a little longer.

There is puppy food, food for adult dogs, and food for senior dogs because canines of different ages have different needs for nutrients and calories.

Just like you should pick a dog food suitable for your pup’s breed and size, you should also choose food formulated for its age group.

So if you are asking can adult dogs eat puppy food – yes, they can, but if the dog is healthy and in normal conditions, it is not recommended. And the same is true for giving puppies adult dog food or feeding senior dogs with regular dog food for active adult dogs.

Read on to find out more about when it is okay to give your four-legged companion some puppy food and what the potential adverse effects are if you choose to feed your adult dog with puppy food only.

We have also included the main differences between adults’ and puppies’ food. This can help you understand better why it is crucial to choose age-appropriate food for your four-legged companion.

Is It Safe To Give An Adult Dog Puppy Food?

Yes. Puppy food is still dog food, so giving it to a healthy adult dog is completely safe. At the same time, it is not recommended, especially when given regularly, as a replacement for adult dog food.

The reason is that good quality puppy food is specially formulated for young puppies that have been weaned from their mothers. At this point of their lives, they need a lot of energy to support their rapid growth and to play.

Thus, puppy food usually includes much more protein, amino acids, fat, and calories and a different nutrient balance than regular adult dog food.

So, the main concern with feeding your adult dog with food for puppies is weight gain. Being overweight or obese can cause severe health and mobility problems in canines, including diabetes, heart disease, joint, and other issues. In fact, studies show that obesity can shorten the lifespan of a dog by about 2.5 years.

This is why you should feed your four-legged companion with food that is suitable for its weight, age, and activity level.

The only case when you can put your adult dog on a puppy food diet is when your veterinarian recommends it. This can happen if your dog is underweight, a picky eater, weak, or when it is pregnant or nursing.

Still, this diet should be applied only until the dog recovers and can return to its regular adult dog food.

The Differences Between Puppy And Adult Dog Foods

Here are the main differences between dog foods formulated for puppies and those for adult pups:

The Protein Content

Protein is the essential nutrient that provides the building blocks for physical development and muscle growth. Puppies need more protein and more special amino acids than adult dogs. They can help them grow and promote healthy development in different areas.

Supplying the puppy with enough amino acids and proteins is especially crucial for fast-growing breeds, which need much more energy and protein to promote growth and repair.

In general, puppies should eat food that contains 22% -32% protein in their daily intake. At the same time, the healthy recommended amount of proteins to feed an adult dog is about 18% of its daily intake.

Of course, there are high-protein foods for adult dogs, but they are formulated for adult animals and not for young ones, which are growing rapidly.

The Calories

Puppy food is packed with calories that young puppies need in order to have more energy to grow and play. On average, you can expect dog food for puppies to contain about 300-400 calories per cup, compared to the 200-400 calories per cup of regular adult dog food.

Of course, larger dog breeds need to consume more calories than small and toy-sized ones. And more active dogs need more calories than couch potatoes.

So, you should always choose the best dog food and portion sizes following your dog’s age, weight, size, health, and activity level.

The Fat Content

While too much or the wrong kind of fat can be harmful and dangerous for canines, they still need fat to be healthy and well. Good fat is essential for dogs of all ages to help them maintain their body temperature, have energy, and grow.

Puppies need more fat while they are growing. So usually, the food for puppies contains a higher fat percentage of about 22% compared to the 18% fat in most adult dog foods.

Since fat is a denser form of energy, too much of it can lead to weight gain in less active adult dogs.

As mentioned earlier, excessive weight and obesity can cause severe health problems and shorten the lifespan of your furbaby.

The Calcium

Since puppies, especially the large and giant breed ones, grow rapidly, they need enough calcium to help promote bone formation, growth, and strength.

Related: Best Large Breed Puppy Foods – 2022

Puppies require a minimum of 2 grams of calcium per day compared to adult dogs which need a minimum of 0.5 grams. The maximum recommended amount of calcium for young puppies is 18 grams per day, while that for adult pups is only 1 gram.

So, you can expect that a good quality puppy dog food contains much more calcium than an adult dog needs, which can lead to mineral overdosing. At the same time, it contains just the right amount of this mineral to help the puppy grow strong and healthy bones and teeth.

Puppies depleted of enough calcium can develop rickets-like bone problems, pain, and mobility issues.

When Is It Okay To Feed An Adult Dog With Puppy Dog Food?

In some cases, it can be acceptable and even recommended that you feed an adult pup with food for puppies. But always ask your veterinarian before making such significant dietary changes for your pet.

For Pregnant And Lactating Dogs

It is, in fact, recommended to switch to feeding a pregnant or lactating dog with puppy food. The reason is that, during this time, it needs much more energy and the best nutrition for a successful pregnancy and a healthy mom and puppies.

Unless your vet advises you otherwise, start feeding the pregnant dog with high-quality puppy food when it enters the third trimester. This is around the 40th day of the pregnancy.

A dog mom needs enough nutrients and energy for the puppies to develop and be born healthy and at a normal weight. At the same time, the mom will get the added calories and energy needed to stay healthy and produce the milk that the puppies need in those first days and months.

The higher the quality of the mother’s milk – the healthier the puppy will be.

For Weak Adult Dogs

Dogs can suffer from weakness for several reasons, including different illnesses, injuries, compromised immune systems, or old age.

While it is not advisable to feed senior dogs with puppy food because of the different nutritional requirements, in some cases feeding a weak dog with puppy food can help build back its strength.

Suppose your dog is recovering from surgery or a severe illness. In that case, it may benefit from the highly nutritious puppy dog foods, but make sure to speak with your veterinarian before making such dietary changes for your vulnerable pup.

For Underweight Dogs

Being overweight or obese is not good for canines, but being underweight can be problematic too.

Speak to your vet about the possible causes of your pup being underweight to address any medical issues. If your veterinarian gives you the thumbs up, you may try adding some high-calorie puppy food to your dog’s diet. But the risk of adding too much calcium to its diet and the potential development of hypercalcemia should also be considered seriously.

There are some special puppy dog foods formulated for quicker weight gain for puppies that are underweight.

What Are The Risks Of Feeding An Adult Dog With Dog Food For Puppies?

In order to stay as healthy as possible, dogs need to eat food formulated for their age, size, and activity level.

Since puppy dog food is higher in proteins, fat, and calories than regular adult dog food, there are some risks of feeding a healthy adult dog with such food.


Dog parents may think that their chubby furbaby is adorable, but the truth is that obesity can cut your dog’s life short by an average of 2.5 years.

Too much weight can cause joint and other mobility issues and affect the pup’s lifestyle and well-being. But it can lead to other severe health problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and untimely death.

Puppy food contains way more fat, proteins, and calories than an average adult dog needs, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. The reason is that adult dogs typically do not need as much energy as young puppies and will store the extra energy consumed as fat.

Calcium Overdosing

Since puppy food contains from 4 to 22 times more calcium than the recommended calcium intake for adult dogs, feeding your adult pup with puppy food on a regular basis can lead to a calcium overdose.

Adult dogs need calcium for healthy digestion, wound healing, and muscle movement. Still, too much can lead to harmful adverse effects such as kidney stone development and, in severe cases, kidney failure.


Here are some answers to dog parents’ most commonly asked questions regarding feeding adult pups with dog food for puppies.

Can My Dog Get Diarrhea From Eating Puppy Food?

Yes, feeding your adult dog with unbalanced dog food unsuitable for its age can lead to digestive problems, including diarrhea. The main reason is that the excess fat in puppy food will pass through the GI tract too quickly.

Should I Give My Underweight Dog Some Puppy Food?

Talk to your veterinarian about dietary changes and for a diagnosis of the reasons causing the dog to be underweight before switching to puppy food.

Yes, puppy food has more calories and is more nutrient-dense, but it also contains too much calcium for an adult dog.

There are some special high-fat foods for underweight puppies and dogs that you may want to discuss with your vet.

How Long Can An Adult Dog Eat Puppy Dog Food?

If your veterinarian has recommended that you feed your furbaby puppy food, make sure to follow the instructions for the quantities and the time frame for this dietary change.

Switching to puppy food or adding some puppy food to the dog’s diet may be recommended when the dog is in its third trimester of pregnancy or is nursing, as well as in cases when it is weakened from surgery, injury or illness.

Make sure to introduce new foods to your furry friend gradually, then wean them off slowly to their regular food.

How is Puppy Food Different From Adult Dog Food?

Puppy food is formulated to meet young puppies’ energy, health, and development needs. Thus it contains much more amino acids and other proteins, more fat, more calcium and is higher in calories than regular food for adult dogs.

Similar Posts