There are many reasons why you may need to switch dog food brands from time to time throughout your dog’s life. Food allergies are developing into a real problem in the canine world and there are always dogs with sensitive stomachs that need to be on bland diets. As your dog ages, the need to put them on a prescription diet for conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, renal failure, cardiac problems or cancer may develop and knowing how best to switch their diet gradually will make the process easier on the both of you.
Tips for Switching Dog Food
- It is better to switch within a food type – from wet to wet, from dry to dry and from a mixture to another mixture. Sudden changes in type of food can cause intestinal upset that is easily avoided by sticking to the same food type. Once they are on the new brand of food and their stomach is fine, then gradually switch the type of food if required i.e. wet to a mixture to dry only and vice versa.
- Plan on the switch taking at least a week – longer if your dog has a history of having a sensitive stomach. The slower the transition, the less chance of any loose stools or diarrhea. With this in mind, make sure you have a weeks worth of the old food in the cupboard before starting the switch as you do not want to run out – that just adds unnecessary complications!
- The quantity of food you feed your dog should not change – if they were eating a cup of food before, base the transition on the same one cup of food. Once the food is fully switched over to the new food, the quantity can be adjusted to meet their caloric needs so they do not gain or lose weight unnecessarily. Begin by mixing 25% of the new food in with 75% of the old – continue like this for a few days. Then, mix the two foods 50/50 for a few days. Lastly, bring the new food up to 75% of the total volume and 25% of the old – again, continue for a few days. By the end of the transition, your dog should be on 100% of the new food without an upset! If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you can always slow the transition even more by mixing the food in 10% or 20% increments instead of 25% and make the transition over a longer period of time.
If at any time your dog does develop insistent diarrhea, take them off food entirely for 12 hours to allow the stomach to calm down and then feed them small meals of boiled white rice and boiled white chicken meat for a few days. Then transition them with the chicken/rice mixture instead of the old food over a longer period of time.
It takes a little patience to properly make the transition but it is worth the extra time in the end. No one enjoys an upset stomach including your pooch and nothing is worse then being woken up a dozen times through the night because you rushed the process of switching dog food brands!