Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ

WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about creating a food and nutrition plan for your adult dog.

By Elizabeth Lee
WebMD Pet Health Feature

Reviewed by Katherine Snyder, DVM

Selecting an adult dog food that will keep your pet healthy and energetic starts with knowing your dog's eating habits and lifestyle. Does your dog weigh just the right amount and go for long walks daily? Or is it a lap dog that loves nothing more than to snooze the day away? The answers to questions like these will help guide you in choosing the best food.

But there are other things to keep in mind as well. To help you know how to choose the best dog food for your adult dog, WebMD put a list of frequently asked questions about feeding an adult dog to a group of veterinary experts. Here is what they had to say.

What do I need to keep in mind when feeding an adult dog?

The most important thing to keep in mind when feeding an adult dog is to make sure your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. Start by checking package labels for something called a statement of nutritional adequacy. It should say that the food meets nutrient profiles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or that it has passed feeding trials designed to AAFCO standards.

The statement also should say that the food is appropriate for adult maintenance or for all life stages. If your dog is overweight or inactive, stick with one labeled for adult maintenance. Food that's appropriate for all life stages contains extra nutrients needed for growth.

Homemade diets can provide complete nutrition, but making sure your pet gets the right mix of protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins can be difficult. Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, is a professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. She tells WebMD that if you are going to prepare a homemade diet, you should consult a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. The nutritionist can help you design a healthy diet for your dog.

When is a dog considered an adult?

When a dog reaches 90% of its expected adult weight, it's considered an adult for feeding purposes, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual. An adult dog diet, or maintenance diet, contains nutrients suited for animals that have passed their growth stage. Most of a puppy's growth occurs by 6 or 7 months of age, but large and giant breeds can continue to grow for 12 months or beyond.