If you’ve got a puppy, you’ll eventually transition them to adult food. If your dog has allergies, your veterinarian may recommend a switch to grain free, raw, or high protein. Or perhaps you’d like to try something different because it fits in with your lifestyle or budget needs. You can just plain stop one food and give them another, but this can be extremely upsetting to your dog’s digestive system, and they may end up with major gastro-intestinal distress (vomiting, diarrhea or constipation). You’ll have better luck if you follow these steps to make the transition a happy one!
Step One – Decide on the diet
Make a decision on what you’ll be feeding your dog. Dietary changes cause issues because different foods result in different bacteria balances within your dogs system. They end up with too much or too little of the right bacteria and their system doesn’t have a chance to adjust. Work with your veterinarian to select a new food, whether it be raw, grain-free, organic, wild, or just something that fits better with your budget, and then give the following schedule a chance to ensure the best results.
Step Two – Set up your schedule
Do not change the number of meals in a day at the same time as transitioning food. It gets too confusing for them, and if there are issues, you won’t know which caused it. Provide food to your dog as follows:
Day 1 – 3 Introduce 25% new food, 75% old food in each meal.
Day 4 – 6 Split the food 50/50. Half new, half old. Never switch out an entire meal. You need to give your dog’s digestive system a chance to adjust. Watch for stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. If you notice anything, go back to the 25/75 for another day or two, then 50/50.
Day 7 – 9 Go to 75% new and 25% old. Your dog should be adjusting by now to the new food!
Day 10 – Go the whole nine yards! Give your dog 100% of the new food.
Your dog should be fine after day 10. At this point you can start changing the # of mealtimes. Check with your veterinarian if you’re not sure, or refer to the ASPCA’s optimal feeding schedule.
Dietary changes for dogs are not difficult to make, but research your options and watch your dog’s behavior. If you have questions, it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian for the best answer for your dog.
American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
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