How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food
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Your puppy’s nutritional needs will change as he grows into adulthood, but how do you know when your puppy is ready for adult food?
Depending on his breed size, at some point between 12 and 24 months of age, you should reexamine your puppy's nutritional needs and choose the right adult formula. His adult food could depend upon his metabolism (Does he gain weight easily?) and his activity level (Is it low, normal, or high?) These factors can help you find the ideal food for your dog.
The transition to a premium adult formula should begin when your dog approaches adult height and weight. The kind of dog you have will determine the right time to switch. When you do switch to adult formula, follow the same four-day process as you did when introducing your puppy to premium puppy food.
Small-breed dogs tend to mature physically much sooner than large-breed dogs. Follow these guidelines to help you decide when to switch formulas:
- Small-breed dogs (20 pounds or less when fully grown) are usually ready to transition to an adult formula when they are 9 to 12 months of age.
- Medium-breed dogs (between 20 and 50 pounds when fully grown) normally mature at around 12 to 14 months of age.
- Large-breed dogs (more than 50 pounds when fully grown) might not be ready to switch to an adult food until they are between 12 and 24 months old.
Why Switch to an Adult Formula?
As your new puppy quickly matures into adulthood, he needs nutrition appropriate for his 'new' body. That means a high-quality, premium adult formula. Most veterinarians agree that feeding a complete and balanced premium food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult MiniChunks, throughout your dog's adulthood can promote a long and healthy life.
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- adp_description_block240Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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