Age to Switch to Adult Dog Food & How Often to Feed

Large Breed Puppy Food Cuts the Risk of Bone & Joint Growth Disorders


I have a 7-month old Labrador retriever. How long should I feed puppy food, and at what age should I switch her from three meals per day to two?


Dr. Nichol:

Important question. More than just managing your puppy’s weight, the diet you feed can influence her risk of skeletal defects.


Labs and other big breeds continue growing until they’re 14 months or older. A large breed growth diet is best until they reach full size, although changing to an adult food sooner is unlikely to cause trouble. The real mistake is feeding big breed puppies regular puppy food because these diets contain extra calcium that causes rapid bone growth. This puts them at greater risk of hip dysplasia and other bone and joint growth problems.


As puppies mature they can be fed fewer meals. Youngsters under 4 months need 4 daily feedings. Three meals a day works well from 4 to 7 months. I recommend feeding twice a day after that but you need to start measuring the food as the kid reaches her adult size.


Finally, ignore the feeding amounts recommended on the dog food bag as they’re based on the caloric needs of research dogs, not individual pets. Your veterinarian understands you puppy’s activity level and can advise you best on the right amount to feed.