When and How to Switch Your Golden Retriever to Adult Dog Food – A 7-Day Plan


Puppies grow up seemingly overnight. One day they are smaller than your hand, and the next day they are too large to sit in your lap comfortably.

But there comes a time which you should switch from treating them like babies to treating them like adults. This included switching their diets and the food they are eating.

So, when and how to switch your golden retriever to adult dog food? You can switch your golden retriever to adult food when they’re between 18 and 24 months old, but you can start feeding them two times a day once they turn 6 months and keep feeding them puppy food while gradually starting the switch to adult dog food by mixing it with their puppy food.

This process seems simple enough, right? But as with almost everything in life, it’s much easier said than done. So, let’s discuss the how, the when, and the small details you really should know to make sure this process stays a smooth one.

When To Switch Golden Retrievers to Adult Food

Golden retriever puppy eating from a bowl to illustrate how to switch your golden retriever to adult dog food

You can start to switch your puppy golden retriever’s food to adult food when they are between 18 and 24 months old, that’s the general rule, but you should use it more as a guideline and you may actually start the transition to adult dog food as early as 12 months of age.

You can tell if they are ready or not for the transition by their weight. How? Using the following table:

Golden Retriever puppy growth table

You can simply follow the chart guidelines and decide when you should start the transition based on this chart.

If your golden retriever’s weight is slightly more than the average for his age, this means they are growing up a little faster than the average and you can start the transition a little earlier, and the opposite is true.

You can also recognize the signs that they are ready for adult dog food when they start skipping meals, tasting different things around the house, or showing other signs that they are looking for more nutritious, solid food.

Did you notice that the weight can slightly differ between males and females? That’s because they grow up slightly differently, and you can learn everything about the differences between male and female golden retrievers here.

How to Switch From Puppy Food to Adult Food in 7 Steps

Here is how you can switch from puppy food to adult food step by step

  • Start small: Only introduce adult dog food in small amounts
  • Do some maths: If you are going to add ¼ cup of the adult food, remove ¼ cup from their current puppy food
  • Gradually increase the portion of adult food and decrease the puppy food one every day in an unnoticeable amount while repeating the last step 
  • When you reach the mid-week, you can make their meal 50% adult food and 50% puppy food
  • By the end of that week, your dog should only be eating adult food.
  • In that time you need to watch your dog’s weight closely for any changes
  • In that time you need to determine their body type and the amount of adult food they need.

What to look for in adult dog food for puppies? 

When you are buying adult dog food for your pooch, you need to look for a few things, first of all, you should always read the food label. But I know how confusing (sometimes intentionally by the manufacture) they could be, here’s what to look for in adult dog food:

  • Read the product name (according to the FDA, a product with a 95% ingredient-specific name means that it has fewer ingredients in higher quantities and it’s the same thing in products with 70% to 75% ingredient-specific)
  • Avoid getting products with these kinds of names; beef formula dog food or chicken formula dog food, because it will not offer the best nutritional diet for your dog.
  •  Now, it’s time to check on the ingredients, most brands put the undesirable ingredients at the bottom of their lists such as artificial fillers and colorings, so make sure to read the list till the end.
  • See if it’s grain-free, most healthy dog foods are grain-free. Notice that grain itself isn’t really bad for your dog as it’s used as filler, but the food shouldn’t be all filler.
  • Look for a product that comes with whole-food protein ingredients at the top of their list
  • Foods where that the top ingredients are turkey, chicken, beef, or lamb are your best bets
  • Avoid products that their ingredients begin with poultry, animal, and meat.
  • Lastly, if it’s not AAFCO* do not bother to read the ingredients.
AAFCO: The Association of American Feed Control Officials

How long will a dog be sick after switching food?

If you switch your dog food slowly and gradually they are unlikely to get sick at all, but if they suffer from an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should stop giving them food for at least a day and don’t give them water for a few hours after vomiting and if the vomiting does not stop, you should take them to their vet.

You can also consult their vet before you start switching their food to avoid any issues in their stomach if you are worried it might happen.

What is the best dog food for a golden retriever?

Here are some quick recommendations for good foods for adult golden retrievers that I have tried and tested over the years with no issues. They are not perfect, but they are very good.

Of course, I prefer homemade foods whenever possible, and you can check my full guide on golden retrievers foods for every age here. If you are going for homemade foods, which I believe should always be part of your dog’s diet, make sure it never includes any of these 18 human foods that dogs should never eat.

How often should you change your dog’s protein?

You can change your dog’s protein every three months but you can also change it more frequently but only if your dog doesn’t have a sensitive stomach, you can switch it when you are run out of their current protein.

You can learn more about golden retrievers’ sensitive stomachs here and how to find out if your dog’s stomach is sensitive.

What to do if you switch your dog’s food too fast?

If you switched your dog’s food too fast and now your dog is vomiting and they have an upset stomach, you shouldn’t give them any food for a few hours after the vomiting and give them access to water and let them rest for as long as they want.

How do you mix old and new dog food?

When you are about to switch from old food to new food, do it slowly over a week (or between 7 to 10 days). Gradually increase the portion of the new food with old food. You can start with 25% new food mixed with 75% old food for about three days, then you can start mixing 50% of the new food with 50% of the old food for the other three or four days.

What can I give my dog for nausea? 

You can give your dog some prescribed cerenia for dogs, metoclopramide, Pepcid, and famotidine.

They have the benefit of helping dogs with nausea and vomiting from motion sickness.

Related Questions 

How do you know when to switch your dog’s food?

You can know when to switch your dog’s food if they start skipping meals or try to eat random things such as things they find in your backyard, also, you can switch their food when they are anywhere between 18 and 24 months, but is they are a giant breed it could take two years for them to mature. 

Do dogs get bored of eating the same food?

No, dogs do not get bored eating the same food as humans do because of the number of taste receptors they have, but it won’t harm if you were to diverse their food a little bit. Add new healthy foods to their diet is good for them and they’ll love it if you added some treats to their diet.

How many times a day should a dog eat?

Dogs should eat at least 2 meals a day, you can also feed them breakfast, lunch, and dinner with you, but you will need to watch their weight to avoid obesity that most dogs suffer from. Both options are great. If you’re feeding them 2 meals make sure it’s about 12 hours apart.

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Helpful Resources

How to Choose the Best Dog Food

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