How To Change Your Dog’s Food Safely

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Dog eating out of bowl (caption: How To Change Dog Food)Are you thinking about changing dog food brands or types because it’s less expensive? Or maybe your dog has been sick to his stomach and you want to try out a new food. It may even be that your vet thinks your dog is allergic to lamb. Whatever the reason for the change in dog food, you must take it very slowly to allow your pup’s tummy to adjust to his new food.

Article Overview

Reasons To Change Dog Food

There are many reasons why you may be considering changing your dog food other than cost. Here’s a breakdown of some issues you might need to consider.

Food Sensitivity

If your pooch has an upset stomach or itchy skin, a food sensitivity may be the culprit. Dogs can develop adverse reactions to certain ingredients in their food, even if they’ve been eating that ingredient for years. If you suspect a food sensitivity, consult with your vet, who can recommend an appropriate diet switch.

Life Stage

Puppy next to food bowl (caption: When To Switch A Puppy To Adult Food)When your puppy reaches around 12 months of age (may vary based on size), his nutrient requirements change. So it’s time to transition to adult dog food. Smaller breed puppies should transition over sooner than larger breeds. Learn more about when to switch a puppy to adult dog food.

Nutrition needs also change when dogs become older. When small and medium-sized dogs reach the age of 7-years-old or so, you should transition them to a mature adult or senior dog food. This ensures they’re receiving the best level of nutrients for their older life stage. Larger breed dogs should make this change around 6 years old because their bones and muscles age faster than smaller breeds.

How To Switch Dog Food Gradually

The best way to transition your dog’s food is to mix your current dog food with the new dog food for at least 5 days. This allows for your dog’s digestive tract to adjust without suffering from stomach issues.

How To Change Your Dog’s Food Safely Graphic
  • Day 1: Feed 75% of your current (old) food and mix in 25% of the new food in each serving to start the adjustment period for clean digestion.
  • Day 2: Adjust to feeding 60% of your old food and mix in 40% of the new food in each serving.
  • Day 3: Feed 50% of your old food, mixed with 50% of the new food per serving.
  • Day 4: Feed 40% of your old food, mixed with 60% of the new food per serving.
  • Day 5: Feed 25% of your old food, mixed with 75% of the new food per serving.
  • Day 6: Feed 90-100% of the new food — at this point you should be very close to a clean digestive transition period.

Break the daily serving size into two meals per day: one in the morning and one in the evening.

Watch For Symptoms During Dog Food Transition

Dog laying on sofa sick (caption: Tips To Cure A Dog's Upset Stomach)Throughout this adjustment period, be sure to keep a close eye on your dog. Here are some things you should monitor to ensure that he’s not experiencing an upset stomach or other health concerns.

  • Make sure he’s continuing to drink a normal amount of water.
  • Is your dog having a lot of gas? Ideally, your dog’s gas should remain low. Otherwise, he may not be digesting the new food well.
  • Your dog’s feces should remain normal. Yes, it sounds gross to look at the poop, but it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s stool to make sure it’s not too runny. Runny stool raises concerns about diarrhea and dehydration.

Tip: If you see a great deal of change in these areas, slow down the process and take more time to ease your dog into the new food. This slow process of changing food should alleviate the majority of issues normally associated with an upset stomach.

What If My Dog Isn’t Adjusting? Consult A Vet

If the dog food transition isn’t working, no matter how slow you go with the food change, consider slowly reverting to the old food. Your dog could be allergic to the new food. If more serious issues arise during this transition, consult your vet for more assistance.

How Do I Choose A New Dog Food?

Dog eating out of a hand (caption: Best Dog Food Delivery Service)We recommend that you read food labels to make sure your dog is getting the appropriate ingredients and nutrition levels for whatever his unique health needs are. And if you want some ideas on the various types of foods available, check out these dog food delivery options, which include both kibble and fresh foods. The human-grade fresh food options even make it easy to customize your dog’s diet based on age, weight and health issues — and you can have these delivered right to your door. We also have a guide to vegan dog food.

What problems have you run into when switching dog food?

About The Author:

Michelle holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and has worked in marketing at Bank of America, Mattel and Hanes. Her expert advice and opinions have appeared in many outstanding media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest and Apartment Therapy, among others.

She is the proud co-founder of Canine Journal and a dog lover through and through. Since the day she was born, she has lived in a home full of dogs. Her adult home is no exception where she and her husband live with Lily and Barley, their two adorable rescue pups.

In addition to her love for snuggling with dogs, she also has enjoyed working professionally in the canine field since 1999 when she started her first dog-related job at a dog bakery.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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