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Difference between Puppy and Adult dog food

Two pups sharing the puppy food

Bringing a new puppy into your home is an exciting time, but it also comes with the responsibility of providing proper nutrition for their growth and development. One common question that arises is, "What is the difference between puppy and adult dog food?"

Let's explore the differences between these two types of dog food and why choosing the right formula is essential for your furry friend's health and well-being.

Puppy vs Adult Dog Food: What's the Difference?

Food that is specifically marketed as “Puppy Food” is formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of growing puppies. It typically contains higher levels of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support their rapid growth and development.

  • Puppies need higher levels of protein (22-32% on a dry matter basis) compared to adult dogs to fuel their rapid growth and development of muscles, tissues, and organs.
  • Fat serves as an essential energy source for puppies, supporting their increased energy needs for growth, with an ideal fat content of 8-20% on a dry matter basis.
  • Calcium and phosphorus are crucial for strong bones and teeth in puppies, with higher levels required to support skeletal growth, ideally in a ratio of approximately 1.2:1 to 1.5:1.

On the other hand, adult dog food is formulated to maintain the health and weight of fully-grown dogs and often contains lower levels of nutrients, despite studies showing higher inclusion rates have numerous benefits on adult dogs to their long term health.

Its important to understand that puppy food has no special ingredients, it is only that they have higher amount of certain nutrients!

Nutritional requirements data

All Life Stages Dog Food:

All life stages dog food formulations are designed to meet the nutritional needs of dogs, from puppies to seniors. These formulas often have higher inclusion rates of essential nutrients compared to “adult dog food”, providing a balanced diet suitable for puppies and adult dogs alike.

Choosing an all life stage dog food ensures that your puppy receives the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development without the risk of nutrient deficiencies, while although adults don't need these increased levels that puppies require, they still benefit from the higher levels of protein, fat, fatty and amino acids, and minerals!

How do adults benefit from higher inclusion rates: 

  • Protein: Essential for muscle maintenance and repair, supporting lean muscle mass crucial for overall health and mobility in adult dogs. Higher protein levels aid in immune system function, defending against infections and promoting overall well-being.
  • Fat: Provides concentrated energy for daily activities and metabolic functions, supporting healthy energy levels and stamina in adult dogs. Omega fatty acids, abundant in puppy food, maintain healthy skin, reduce inflammation, and minimize skin allergies in adult dogs.
  • Omega Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA benefit joint health, reducing inflammation and supporting mobility, especially in senior or arthritic dogs. They also promote cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Minerals: Essential for bone health, calcium and phosphorus prevent bone disorders like osteoporosis and fractures, crucial for senior dog health. Calcium also supports dental health, ensuring strong teeth and gums and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

When to Switch from Puppy to Adult Dog Food:

If you have chosen to feed your pup a puppy specific formula, you should typically transition from puppy food to adult dog food around the age of 12 to 18 months, depending on their breed size and growth rate. Giant breeds should often be fed puppy appropriate food until 24 months, while tiny breeds often reach adulthood at 9 months!

Food Transition Recommendation Based on Dog Breed Size


Can I Switch My Puppy from a Puppy Specific Food to an all Life Stages Food?

Yes! You can switch your puppy from puppy-specific food to all life stages food at any stage of their life. These formulas typically cater to dogs at all life stages and can provide balanced nutrition for both puppies and adult dogs.

Transition gradually over 7-14 days, monitoring for any digestive issues. Just ensure that the product meets all the nutritional requirements that both puppies and adults need!

How Do I Decide What I Should Feed My Dog?

When it comes to deciding if you should choose to feed a puppy, adult or all life stages food, it can be overwhelming.

Puppy Food:

  • When to Choose: If you have a growing puppy up to about 12-18 months old (depending on breed size), puppy-specific food could be a good option. It provides higher levels of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals then adult dog food, to support their rapid growth and development.
  • Benefits: Supports muscle and bone growth, promotes a healthy immune system, and provides energy for their active lifestyle during the critical growth phase.
  • Considerations: Puppy food may be more expensive, and once your puppy reaches adulthood, you'll need to transition to adult dog food to meet their changing nutritional needs. This can come with a range of issues including digestive, taste and sourcing a new favourite brand!

Adult Dog Food:

  • When to Choose: For adult dogs beyond the growth phase, usually around 12-18 months old, adult dog food may be suitable. It should provide balanced nutrition to maintain their health and well-being.
  • Benefits: Supports overall health, maintains muscle mass, and provides energy for daily activities.
  • Considerations: Adult dog food formulations often have reduced nutrient levels, and lower quality ingredients compared to puppy food and all life stages. They are often formulated for your dog to to “survive not thrive”.

All Life Stage Dog Food:

  • When to Choose: All life stage dog food is suitable for households with dogs of varying ages or for those looking for a single food that can meet the needs of puppies and adult dogs alike.
  • Benefits: Offers convenience, balanced nutrition for all life stages, and often higher nutrient inclusion rates compared to adult dog food. All lifestages diets are much more similar to that of their natural diet. 
  • Considerations: While convenient, all life stage dog food may come at a higher price point due to the higher quality ingredients and nutrient levels, but ultimately, you will be saving money in the long run due to having a healthier dog!  

Are Puppy Specific Foods Bad?

Puppy-specific foods are not inherently bad; in fact, they serve are an excellent option to meet the unique nutritional needs of growing puppies. These foods are formulated with higher levels of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support the rapid growth and development that occurs during the puppy stage. They provide the necessary nutrients to fuel their energy, support muscle and bone growth, and promote a healthy immune system.

However, while puppy-specific foods can be beneficial for puppies, they do often come at a higher price compared to both adult and all life stage dog food.

Additionally, the focus on meeting the higher nutritional requirements of puppies often means the brand has created an adult range so that they can cut costs by reducing nutrient levels. This can lead to adult dogs potentially missing out on optimal nutrition, especially if they transition from a puppy-specific food to an adult formula that lacks sufficient nutrients.

Why is Raw Food Often for All Life Stages? 

Raw food for dogs is often deemed suitable for all life stages because it contains high nutrient density and bioavailability. It lacks fillers and additives found in some brands of low quality kibble, ensuring a balanced nutritional profile.

Additionally, raw diets are a good option for puppies as they promote digestive health with enzymes, probiotics, and higher moisture content!

Why Feed Petzyo? 

Petzyo is formulated by nutritional experts to ensure that it meets the needs of dogs at all life stages. By exceeding the minimum nutritional requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), Petzyo's recipes are bursting with nutrient-dense ingredients that support the growth and development of puppies and continue to provide essential nutrients throughout their adult life.

These formulations are carefully crafted to deliver optimal levels of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals, promoting overall health and well-being.

Whether your furry friend is a playful puppy or a mature adult, Petzyo offers a balanced and nutritious diets to support them at every stage of their life!