Your dog might need a new diet for a number of reasons. What you feed your dog has to be appropriate to their age, their health, and a number of other factors, such as pregnancy.
In other cases, you might be interested in switching your dog’s diet because they might be overweight or obese. While your final decision should always happen after consulting your veterinarian, here are some tips on making the change smoother and easier.
5 Tips on How You Can Transition Your Dog to a New Diet
Do it gradually
Not all dogs are the same, and they don’t have the same types of digestion. For this reason, even if they might love the taste of the new kibble or canned variety you give them, you should introduce it gradually into their diet.
Over the course of a week, add varying percentages of the new food to the old one. For example, on the first day, your dog’s food bowl should contain 20% to 25% of the new food, with the rest being their good old kibble.
If you change your pet’s diet too suddenly, they might experience a number of complications, including mild digestive distress. Not all dogs react the same when given various food - whether due to the recipe’s exact ingredients and nutrition or because their bodies are simply unique.
It should take you a week or up to 10 days to change your dog’s diet completely.
Pay attention to your dog’s ‘bathroom’ habits
Most dogs tend to react well to diet changes. However, if your pet experiences diarrhea or vomiting, you should get in touch with your vet as soon as possible.
While it can be a challenge to closely monitor your dog's poop, it's a task that any responsible pet parent must endure. The simplest way to go about it is to check the firmness and colour of the feces and compare them to what you know your dog’s stools usually look like.
Make sure you choose the right food
Unfortunately, an extensive range of commercial dog diets these days are unhealthy. And the reason is that they contain ingredients such as grains, preservatives, artificial colours, and binders that your dog doesn’t need in their body.
Do your research and try to understand which ingredients are good and which ones your pet can perfectly do without. If you can’t make your own dog recipes at home, you can actually purchase a homemade diet these days. Canned varieties containing healthy proteins and fibre from sources such as pumpkin are readily available.
Do not feed your dog the same food day in and day out. A little variety never hurts, and your dog can get bored of eating the same thing all the time. More importantly, this practice can also lead to dogs developing food intolerances.
For example, many pets these days have an allergy to chicken and other widely used protein sources from commercial dog food, and that’s because they eat it repeatedly. If your vet has suggested a specific diet and it comes in several varieties, give your dog the salmon one today, the lamb one tomorrow, and the chicken one the day after.
Consult your vet
Not all pets have the same nutritional needs. One of the most common instances where you might have to change your pet’s diet would be when they become an adult.
Switching from a puppy diet to an adult one is easy and should be done around the age of 12 to 18 months. But some animals might have unique nutritional requirements based on their breed.
Large and giant dog breeds need a diet heavier in minerals (or you should give them supplements separately) and vitamin D3 because they tend to grow up quickly. You also have to ensure that your dog’s weight remains within the normal range as any excess weight can put a lot of pressure on their joints.
Senior dogs need a special diet and so do pregnant ones. Those that have chronic health issues require a different food altogether, one that can protect their internal organs as best as possible. As such, your vet is the best person to ask if you want to make a change.
Use the right accessories
It would be best if you relied on your creativity when it comes to getting your dog used to the new food. For example, if you’re looking to switch their kibble to a new recipe, you can start by using the tiny bits as snacks.
The Rufus & Coco Football Treat Me Toy can help you in this sense as it can be filled with all sorts of foods – from sticks and straps to dental chews and even dog sausages.
If your dog is overweight or at risk of developing obesity, you can control both their diet and the amount of food they eat while you’re away from home by using an automated feeder. Mix the old kibble with the new one for the best results.
How to Read a Dog Food Label, Jan Reisen, American Kennel Club, 2020 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-to-read-a-dog-food-label/
Food intolerance in dogs and cats, J. M. Craig, 2019 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30537117/