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What’S The Difference Between Puppy Vs Adult Dog Food?

Domestic dogs are omnivores. Without allergies or special health issues, individuals will benefit from consuming both plant and animal-based foods. To maintain health, all canines require carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Yet, young, developing pups have different nutritional and caloric requirements than adult dogs. You should not feed puppy food to an adult dog, and vice versa.

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) rules will be examined to determine the difference between puppy food and adult dog food. We will also review available flavors, kibble size, and price in "What's the Difference Between Puppy vs Adult Dog Food?" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org).

At a Glance

Let’s examine the essential features of each product.

Puppy Dog Food

  • AAFCO recommended protein level of 22%
  • Designed for puppies that are still developing
  • Smaller kibble for pets with small jaws
  • Must have at least 20% carbs
  • Greater concentrations of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and sodium
  • More calorie-dense than adult dog food

Adult Dog Food

  • AAFCO recommended protein percentage for adult dog food is 18% dry matter.
  • Big, adult-sized kibble pieces.
  • Satisfies the nutritional requirements of most breeds over 1 years old.

Overview of Puppy Dog Food:

That is not brilliant marketing to sell puppy food; it is a need. Throughout their first year, puppies experience fast growth. They require the appropriate quantity of energy and nutrients until they achieve maturity. When you feed your puppy a high-quality food, you establish the basis for a lifetime of good health.

The majority of commercial dog food manufacturers provide puppy-specific recipes, typically in smaller chunks to fit pups’ smaller jaws, but with fewer taste and protein options.

If your puppy has an allergy, it may be difficult to locate puppy food using novel protein sources. Some brands of puppy chow are breed-specific, while others cater to small, medium, and big breeds.

If you have any queries regarding what to feed your puppy, see your veterinarian.


  • Satisfies the nutritional requirements of developing pups
  • Smaller dog food chunks


  • Not as many varieties as adult dog food
  • Smaller containers typically have a higher price per ounce.

Overview of Adult Dog Food:

After your dog is no longer growing, they can transfer to adult dog food. Tiny breeds such as Chihuahuas and pugs may achieve maturity as early as nine months. Bigger breeds such as Great Danes can continue to grow for an additional two years.

The majority of canines attain maturity on their first birthday. Adult dogs who consume puppy food are at risk for obesity since puppy chow is high in calories. There are many more alternatives for adult dogs, including breed- and allergy-specific specialized meals.

Not all dogs, however, benefit from the move to a new protein diet. Consult your veterinarian before adopting a diet that excludes a certain food category.

One of the benefits of having an older dog is that adult dog food is frequently less expensive per ounce. As your dog reaches the “senior period” about 7 years of age, their dietary demands will alter again. Senior dog chow prevents aging canines from gaining weight while satisfying their nutritional needs.


  • Less costly per ounce
  • Additional taste choices
  • Additional options for pets with allergies and other dietary restrictions.


  • While grain-free meals are frequently advertised, they may represent a health risk to many pets (as many studies show a linkage to these diets and a specific type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy)

What Are the Differences Between Them?

As stated previously, there are a number of variations between puppy food and adult dog food.

  • Value Advantage: Adult dog food

Often, dog food is more expensive since it includes more protein.

  • Flavor Choices Edge: Adult dog food

Typically, dog food contains either chicken or beef. In contrast, options for adult dogs include salmon, turkey, bison, venison, and more.

  • Nutritional Advantage: A draw

Both puppy food and adult dog food are nutritionally balanced for their different life phases.


While a toy breed’s growth is complete at nine months, a big breed’s growth continues until their second birthday. The majority of canines become adults on their first birthday.

Unless otherwise specified by your physician, your dog can continue to consume puppy food until it reaches adult size and weight. “What’s the Difference Between Puppy vs Adult Dog Food?” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has shown that if you feed your pet according to its life stage, it will live a healthy, active life.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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