When To Switch To Senior Dog Food: The Best Timing

When To Switch To Senior Dog Food

Remember when you switched your pups food to an adult formula? The puppy and adult formula are optimized to meet your dogs optimal daily required calories for their activities. Now, you may be wondering when to switch to senior dog food? Like your first switch from puppy to the adult formula, this switch aims to provide the best nourishment for your buddy that is appropriate for his age and needs.

Let’s take a deeper look at the importance of giving the appropriate type of food for your dog. Different breeds need different nourishment relative to their life stage. We already know that we need to provide the right kind of food, right? Now, let’s find out the reason why!

Breastmilk to Solid Puppy Food

The minute your puppy was born, the immediate and best food he could get was his mother’s milk. There is no need to supplement the puppies with any nutrition at this time up to about four weeks.

They say nothing beats mothers milk. This applies to all mammals on the planet. Mammals have the unique ability to produce food for their young ones until they are ready to eat solid foodthe whole process of breastfeeding is just amazing. However, the quality of the mothers milk varies from birth to weaning. The vitamins, mineral, and protein content of dogs milk adapt according to what the puppies need!

Puppies can nurse up to eight weeks, but, solid puppy food can be introduced on the fifth week onwards to facilitate the diet transition. As the puppy grows bigger, they will need more nutrition because the breastmilk supply will not be sufficient from here on. Puppy food has high protein and calcium content to support fast growth of the bone and muscle tissues.

Puppy to Adult Food

Adult dog food is typically formulated with lesser nutritional value than puppy food. Heres a comparison of a typical puppy and adult food.

When your puppy reaches his growth potential, he might only gain more weight and pose a risk of becoming overweight when continuously fed with highly nutritious puppy formula. However, not all breeds are switched to adult dog food in the same timing. Large breeds grow fast and reach their potential adult size in about one to two years.

If you closely consult with your veterinarian, you may get advice to feed your large or giant breed puppy with puppy food for up to two years.

Smaller breeds can easily reach their growth potential and may need to switch to adult food a lot sooner than large breeds. However, to make sure that you are timing your food transition properly, you may want to check with your veterinarian for a sound advice.

Adult to Senior Food

As your dog ages and enters his senior years, nutritional needs may start to vary. Your dog may not be able to produce and extract vitamins from their food as efficiently as they used to in their active adult stage. Senior dog foods are packed with more vitamins and essential fatty acids to supplement your dogs nutritional needs.

Senior dog food formulas typically have higher vitamins, minerals, and protein, contains essential fatty acids and has a lower glycemic index to decrease the likelihood of catching diabetes and other related diseases.

When to Switch to Senior Dog Food?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions among pet lovers. Determining the right time when to switch to senior dog food is not just a matter of counting years. Some factors you have to consider are the breed and size of your dog. Aside from this, watching out for the signs of aging is a must to make sure that you are timing your switch right.

Generally, it is assumed that every human year is equal to seven dog years. For dog breeds not exceeding 40-50 pounds of healthy adult weight, this ratio is quite acceptable. Your 10 to 12-year-old Labrador can be considered a senior dog. However, smaller dog breeds tend to age faster and may present aging symptoms early in their years. Relatively, giant breeds may have a longer life.

Smaller breeds are more prone to age-related diseases because of the size of their internal organs and may need special pet food formulation especially in their senior years.

To determine if your pet needs to switch from adult food to senior dog food, you may want to check with your vet and look for signs of aging. This may include the following:

  • Reduced activity
  • Dry, dull, and flaky coat
  • Fading coat color
  • Elbow calluses
  • Thick foot pads
  • Brittle nails
  • Poor eyesight
  • Teeth problems
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Dribbling urine
  • Arthritis

If you are wondering when to switch to senior dog food, observing two to three of these symptoms is a prompt to give them special senior dog food formulation. Again, to be sure about the timing of your switch, a visit to the veterinary clinic for a consultation can give you better idea and confirmation if its the right time.

Nutrition in Your Pets Senior Years

Proper pet nutrition leads to a healthier and happier life for your dog. Giving puppy food and switching to adult formula is a necessary norm that we look forward to doing when they reach adulthood. However, we often overlook that senior dogs have different special needs too.

Switching your older dogs to a senior-dog-food diet can give them the right nutrition and the daily energy they need to keep up with you! These senior dog food preparations are also fortified with essential fatty acids and more vitamins to keep your dog healthier and to protect them from age-related illnesses.


Often, senior pet foods are formulated with lower carbohydrate contents with a low glycemic index to help prevent your dog from getting diabetes.

The right time when to switch to senior dog food is subjective and may vary from different dog breeds. Keen observation and regular veterinary visits will greatly help you decide to make that crucial switch. With the right type of food, vitamin supplementation, and appropriate exercise, your buddy will surely have a long and happy dog life.

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