Babies grow up. When is the right time to switch to adult food?

The life of a dog or a cat can (broadly speaking) be divided up into three phases. They start as a puppy or a kitten, mature and end up in old age. Yet there are so very many different varieties of dog and cat. When can you say that it’s a kitten or a puppy? How old is an adult animal? When is a cat or dog genuinely in old age? And, related to these questions, when exactly do you need to switch to the correct food? 

Guidelines
It is indeed tricky to specify precisely when it would be safe to label your puppy or kitten adult or old. Nevertheless, a few guidelines have been drawn up. 

From kitten/puppy to adult
Things are fairly clear-cut with cats: at around 12 months a kitten will be fully grown and we refer to it as an adult cat. The little ball of fur that it once was is now a fully grown animal. Kittens nurse until 12 weeks old, after which they can be started on normal wet and dry food. Special kitten food is not particularly necessary, as a kitten’s growth is gradual. However, giving them wet and dry food with a slightly higher protein content is advisable for the first year.

Things are trickier with dogs, as some breeds reach full growth more rapidly than others. One guideline is that small breeds are fully grown around 10-12 months old, and medium-sized breeds to large breeds around 12-18 months. Very large dogs can even still be growing after that age.

From adult to old age
Cats generally stay fairly supple in their joints and can actually be kept on adult cat food until the end. However, cats can experience some problems with digesting wheat from eight years of age onwards. In such cases, a cereal-free version is a good alternative. If your cat is missing a few teeth and molars in old age, then wet food constitutes a good supplement. Dry food kibbles can be soaked in a little lukewarm water to make them a bit softer. 

In the case of dogs, the guideline is that small dogs (15kg) around eight to nine years old are regarded as being in old age. Medium-sized and large dogs (>15kg) are considered to be in old age at seven. Nevertheless, it’s also important that you look at your dog. Is your dog still nice and active? Is he free of joint problems, and does he like the taste of the adult food? Then there’s no issue with keeping him on adult dog food for another year.


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