Can Adult Dogs Eat Puppy Food? (Pros, Cons, Warnings)

Can adult dogs eat puppy food?

Well, they certainly will eat it if given a chance but that's different from whether they should eat it and whether it's healthy for them.

And if you have multiple dogs living in your home, you’ll understand how stressful mealtimes can be.

To lessen confusion and to save time you may choose to feed all of your dogs the same type of food.

But if you have a puppy at home and your adult dog doesn't want to eat his own dog food and prefers to much on the puppy food, is it safe and healthy?

Let me tell you...

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First, what’s actually in adult dog food?

Although it may all look the same, adult dog food has been specially formulated for fully grown dogs. 

Dogs at certain ages require different amounts of certain nutrients. If a dog doesn’t get enough, they could become weak.

If a dog gets too much, you may be contributing to canine obesity.

Depending on a dog’s specific need, their food may be made with specific adjustments such as allergen-free or low-fat ingredients.

Puppy food tends to have less specific ingredients in it.

Such ingredients can cause health flare-ups and digestion issues. Puppy food is also rarely allergen-free, so if you know that your dog has allergies, never risk feeding them just plain old puppy food.

So, can I feed my adult dog puppy food?

Every dog owner has probably experienced the dreaded dilemma where their dog is hungry but they’ve run out of food.

Whether the store has closed for the day or you’re a little too busy to go shopping, it can be very tempting to feed your adult dog some puppy kibble instead.

It probably seems harmless to most dog owners as they look very similar, they can even be made by the same brand and can smell the same too.

So the technical answer is yes. Dog owners can feed their adult dogs food that is marketed towards puppies.

While the occasional emergency bowl of puppy kibble probably isn’t going to hurt, you shouldn’t make feeding an adult dog puppy food a habit. Here are a few reasons why: 

Can adult dogs eat puppy food?


Dogs become accustomed to their usual food

Have you ever tried a new food and experienced tummy aches and lots of trips to the bathroom afterward?

If so, you’ll know how uncomfortable it can be. The same goes for dogs.

This is why when you’re changing food types or food brands, your veterinarian will recommend a slow and steady transition.

You can achieve this by mixing the food together for a few days or weeks before completely eliminating the old type of food. 

An unexpected serving of puppy kibble can extremely upset a dog’s stomach which causes low mood and in extreme cases, messy “accidents” can occur. Dogs can be fussy, however.

If your dog is reluctant to trying a new brand of food or protesting a switch of food, consider adding a little wet food, gravy, or shredded cheese to his adult food to make it more appealing. 

Puppy food isn’t the healthiest option for adult dogs

Much like human babies, puppies require a high-calorie intake in order to grow exponentially in size.

Large dog breeds will often double in size multiple times before reaching adulthood. This means that they require a high protein diet in order to achieve this and become healthy adult dogs.

If your dog has already reached adulthood and consumes this protein-rich puppy food, the extra protein isn’t burned off and becomes an extra weight.

This extra weight can have a detrimental effect on your dog’s health.

An adult dog’s dietary needs become very different as he gets older, which is why there is food specifically made for elderly dogs.

In fact, too much of certain puppy-friendly ingredients in his diet can tax filtering organs like the liver or kidneys, diminishing a dog’s quality of life.

Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of his needs, speak to a trusted vet for recommendations, and purchase the specially-formulated geriatric dog foods and supplements appropriate for him at either a favorite brick-and-mortar pet store or online.

I fed my adult dog puppy food- will they be OK?

Yes- don’t panic. Once or twice won’t hurt them, but don’t make it a habit. Just as humans do, a dog needs food on a regular basis to stay happy and healthy.

So for dog owners in a conundrum where they only have puppy food available, it’s definitely better than nothing.

In the long term, however, whatever effort or cost owners may save by feeding the wrong type of dog food will eventually take its toll.

It will begin to negatively affect your adult dog’s health over time, so avoid making it a regular occurrence.

If stomach discomfort is observed in a pet for more than a day or two once he’s switched back to adult food, contact his vet immediately for a check-up.

If you’re a forgetful person and you sometimes find yourself feeding puppy food to your adult dog because you haven’t managed to get out to the store yet, consider using an online delivery service.

If someone else buys your dog food, make sure they have a picture of the specific brand and type that your dog prefers.

This will help to prevent any sudden changes in diet.