If you are a dog owner, you know that your pets quickly become like part of your family. You want the very best food and nutrition for them. There are so many different food options and with recent recalls of certain brands that could possibly harm your dog, choosing a dog food can be quite overwhelming.
There may also come a time that you may need to switch your dog’s food due to age, obesity, food allergies, a sensitive stomach or illness. I have three Chihuahuas and had to switch our dog food brand because our oldest dog has a very sensitive stomach. This simple change made all the difference in the world.
While it is sometimes necessary to change your dog’s diet, it is not something that you want to do frequently. Dogs do best on a consistent diet, and constantly changing their food back and forth depending on what brand is on sale or to give them variety can cause havoc on their gastrointestinal system. I will walk you through the best way to transition your dog from one food to another if it ever becomes necessary.
Choosing the Right Food for your Dog
The first step in changing your dog’s food is to decide which option is best for their particular needs. Your best resource is your veterinarian; they know your pet’s health history better than anyone and can guide you in the right direction. If you would like to do some research of your own, Dog Food Advisor is a great informational site. They have in-depth reviews on each dog food brand and recipe based on ingredients and past recalls.
PetSmart’s website allows you to answer questions about your dog’s age, size and specific needs and gives you very individualized recommendations based on your responses.
Another great resource is Petco’s website. They have suggestions based on different size breeds and individualized needs.
Whatever food that you choose, do not let cost be the only determining factor. Many of the cheap and off-brand dog foods use corn as their main ingredient because it is cheap and a good filler. However, dogs need a diet rich in protein, and meat should be one of the main ingredients in their food. You may save money now, only to have to pay high vet bills later on. Some of the cheaper foods are unhealthy for your dog and can cause malnutrition and health problems. It is okay to shop on a budget, but make sure that the food you choose has nutritional value.
Transition your Dog Gradually
Once you find a food that is appropriate for your dog, you will want to transition them to their new food very gradually unless it is necessary to switch them immediately in extreme cases. If your dog is suffering from gastroenteritis, heart or kidney disease, or other time-sensitive problems you may need to switch their food without delay. In normal situations, letting your dog adjust to their new food slowly will prevent stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, and possible food rejection. The ideal time frame is 10-14 days.
For days 1-3, mix 25% of the new food with 75% of their current food. If they do okay with that, mix half and half on days 4-6. On day 7-9, mix 75% of the new food with 25% of their current food. If at this point they are not having any problems, then you may feed them 100% of the new food. You may need to give your dog more time if problems arise. If your dog refuses the new food or continues to vomit, please contact your veterinarian.