Some will say that variety is the spice of life, but when it comes to changing dog food, that isn’t necessarily the case.
I know it can be overwhelming for pet parents to choose the diet that works best for us, especially with all the options available. Do you pick wet, dry, grain-free, or raw food? Which of the hundreds of brands out there is the best? Which foods are affordable? There are so many options to consider when changing dog food, and even if you decide on one you think will work, that doesn’t always mean that your dog is going to feel the same way. They may not like the taste, the texture, or it may not agree with their digestive track. It’s also possible for them to develop an allergic reaction to one or more of the ingredients. There is so much to consider when changing dog food.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and your dog can eat anything they want without issues, but overall, it’s a smart idea to make a gradual switch. Abrupt changes in diet affect dogs differently, but no matter what, excess flatulence, vomiting, diarrhea, and an upset stomach are all things we want to avoid. Making a gradual switch when changing dog food prevents a shock to the digestive tract, and is the safest approach.
Dogs can become quickly dehydrated if they aren’t able to keep anything down. Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. If you do notice any signs of dehydration, it’s essential to call your vet as soon as possible to avoid serious problems. PetMD lists the following symptoms to watch out for:
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Dry Mouth
Changing dog food the right way takes about five to seven days as long as you don’t come across any complications such as allergies, vomiting or dehydration. PetMD recommends switching 20% of their old food for new food the first day and increasing by 20% more each day until you have completely changed over. Pet Smart recommends a seven-day gradual switch which may be an even safer bet if you suspect your dog is sensitive to change.
7 Day Gradual Change Recommended by Pet Smart:
75% old food
25% new food
70% old food
30% new food
60% old food
40% new food
50% old food
50% new food
40% old food
60% new food
25% old food
75% new food
100% new food
According to Merck, food allergies are less frequent in dogs, but still possible. If you suspect a food allergy, discontinue the new food immediately, then call your vet to make sure there are no underlying issues. They may prescribe a particular food, or develop an elimination diet to determine if allergies are the culprit. Sometimes they will even recommend switching to a temporary diet of beef and rice until their belly calms down. My mom makes the best beef and rice when I don’t feel well.
Whether it’s a health concern, your regular food is no longer available, or you just have a picky pup, it’s always good to approach changing dog food the right way. Just remember:
- Always consult your veterinarian to come up with a plan.
- Unless your vet recommends it, never rush the transition. It takes 5-7 days to change your dog’s food safely.
- Monitor bowel movements for any changes or concerns during the transition.
- Make sure your dog is well hydrated and has access to clean, fresh water.
- As long as there are no major concerns, you should give the change some time. According to Pet Smart, it can take up to 12 weeks to see if the new regimen is working.
If you follow these tips while changing dog food, you should significantly reduce their risk of tummy troubles.
What has been your experience changing dog food? Share your story in the comments.
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