How to Introduce My Puppy to New Dog Food

One of the biggest changes a puppy goes through after being adopted is that it stops nursing and starts eating solid (hard) foods. Yes, some will already be eating solid foods when adopted, but many will have just been weaned and thus aren’t used to it.

It’s an interesting time, to say the least, for most puppies. They aren’t used to eating solid food and need to be cajoled in many cases to do so. Weaning takes about 4 weeks in most cases, although some pups will move faster or slower than others.

Once weaned and on solid food, the new pet parent will then need to determine what puppy chow is best for their precious pup. (There is a dizzying array of them on store shelves, that’s for sure!)

Whatever food you choose will be fine in many cases, as a hungry puppy isn’t known to gripe over the differences in their kibble. Sometimes, you’ll have a puppy that, for one reason or another, is a picky eater and won’t touch what you gave them.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that, as they get bigger and more active, your puppy’s nutritional needs will change. Their kibble needs to change when they do, so they grow and mature like normal.

One question many folks have, though, is one I was thinking about recently as I was looking for new food for my dog. As I sat there looking at the rows and rows of kibble, the question they asked came back to me; how to introduce my puppy to new dog food?

The answer is that there are several methods of introducing your puppy to new dog food. One of the first is to plan ahead and have both new and old dog food around to make the change easier.

Gradually transitioning from their old food to their new food is another way to introduce your puppy to new dog food. For example, you can mix 25% of their new food with their old food. As they start to like it, you can change the mix until they are eating nothing but new food.

You can also improve the taste and appeal of their new food by, for example, serving it to them with warm water. Treating your puppy’s new food as a “treat”  can also work to your advantage.

Lastly, watch how your puppy reacts to their new food and ensure they eat enough. If they aren’t, that might be a sign that they genuinely don’t like the new kibble, and you need to try another one.

Now that you know how to introduce your puppy to new dog food, I’m sure you have other questions on this essential subject. How long does it take a puppy to adjust to new dog food, for example, and what happens if I switch my puppy to dog food?

For the answer to those questions and several others, please keep reading. I’ve got them for you below, as well as tips and advice that would help you during this often difficult and trying time.

How Long Does it Take a Puppy to Adjust to New Dog Food?

Typically, it takes 5 to 7 days for a puppy to adjust to any new dog food you feed. Depending on the puppy and their habits, this transition time can go faster or slower. 

Animal nutrition experts recommend changing your puppy’s food gradually. They say to give them some new and old food and change the amounts as you slowly give them less old food and more of the new. 

Do the same thing every day for a week, increasing and decreasing the new and old food, and, by the end, your puppy should be thoroughly used to their new kibble.

If you’re not sure exactly what to do to make the change from one food to another, the steps below will help make it easier on both you and your puppy:

Step 1- Feed your puppy 3/4 of their regular food and 1/4 of their new food for the first two days.

Step 2- Feed your puppy half of the old and half their new food for the next two days.

Step 3- Mix 1/4 of your puppy’s old food with 3/4 of their new food for two more days.

Step 4- As long as things are going fine and your puppy is eating well, on Day 7, you can switch to only serving your pupper their new food.

When Should I Switch my Puppy to Dog Food?

No matter the breed or size of puppy you adopt, at one point, they are going to switch from puppy food to adult dog food. Small and toy breed dogs usually make the change much earlier than medium breed dogs and large breeds.

For example, toys and small dogs weighing less than 20 lb will be ready to change their food at about nine or ten months of age. On the other hand, medium dog breeds will be ready to change their kibble in about a year.

Lastly, you’ve got large and giant breed dogs that can stick with their puppy kibble from 18 months up to 2 years, which is when they reach full maturity. 

Can You Switch Dog Foods without Mixing?

As long as your puppy isn’t suffering from diseases or health conditions that affect its nutritional intake, you can switch their food whenever you like. They might not like it at first, but eventually, they will eat it.

Of course, an unhappy, whiny puppy that’s not eating isn’t a lot of fun. That’s why experts recommend mixing because it makes the transition period easier for everyone. 

Still, like I said, as long as your puppy isn’t suffering from any illnesses, you can certainly switch their dog food without mixing them. It won’t hurt them in any way, and even if they don’t eat at first, they will eventually.  It’s a rare hungry puppy that will pass up a meal.

Why Switching to Adult Dog Food is Necessary 

Some new puppy parents will keep feeding their dog puppy chow even after it has reached maturity, especially if their pup truly enjoys their kibble and eats well.

The problem is that puppy chow and kibble are made for puppies. Puppies, as you’re no doubt finding out, grow incredibly fast and need different nutrients, vitamins, and minerals than an adult dog.

Puppies also need more fat and carbohydrates for energy than adult dogs. These are two ingredients that, for adults, are connected to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and several other health problems, especially in high amounts as are found in puppy food.

Can I Feed my Puppy Different Brands of Dog Food?

As long as you give your puppy food made for puppies, you can certainly change from one brand of dog food to another. Some pet parents give their puppies and adult dogs a variety of different foods so that they don’t get bored.

Again, as long as you ensure that the food you’re giving your puppy is specifically formulated for puppies, changing up, switching, or combining different brands should not be a problem.

Final Thoughts

When readers ask me “how to introduce my puppy to new dog food,” I usually tell them to take their time, mix things up and expect a little blowback at first.

Some puppies will easily change from one puppy chow to another or from puppy food to adult dog food. Others might not be so easy or might turn their nose up at the new food completely.

However, dogs are animals driven by several things, including the drive to survive and eat. Even if they don’t like the new food, you’re giving them, if they’re hungry enough, they will eat it.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about how to introduce your puppy to new dog food. If you have more questions about how to raise your precious pup, please see my other blogs on the subject. I do my best to fill them with real-world, actionable information you can use to raise a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted dog.