In my home, which has been a chaotic circus of adopted dogs for about the past decade, there’s an issue my husband and I have come across more than once: changing a dog from one type of dog food to another.
Obviously, health and medical issues like allergies make changing foods a necessity. But, there are other reasons you may need to switch a dog from one brand or type of food and introduce a new one.
My husband and I have adopted dogs from owners that couldn’t take care of them anymore. Over the years, there’s been four pugs and a Cavalier King Charles Cocker Spaniel. We’ve acquired a furry family from a variety of sources: an elderly owner that was moving; a breeder that didn’t need an older stud; a humane society; a rescue group; and a foster parent. Each of these dogs from the aforementioned places were being raised on a different type of food when they joined our brood.
Depending on their varying philosophies, the previous caretakers seemed to base their decision on dry food brands based on either cost or quality of food. One of our pugs was raised as a puppy and on into his geriatric years on the cheapest, vitamin-deficient brand of dog food available. Once we tried a medium-grade brand of food, we noticed his coat looked shinier and shedding was lessened.
Of course, over the years there are brand recalls. New research or studies suggest one brand is far superior to another. Life changes constantly, and dog food formulations and brands are no exception.
Plus, if you own more than one dog, feeding them all an array of different foods isn’t always convenient or budget-friendly. Eventually, unless they have a medical reason for being on a particular dog food, you’ll want to switch each of your canines to the same dog food type and brand.
An easy way to get your dog used to a new food is to introduce it gradually. Obviously, a dog just being introduced into your family is experiencing a lot of change. You may want to keep him or her on their current brand of food for a while so as not to overwhelm them even further. (Rome wasn’t built in a day, my friends!) An added benefit of waiting to switch foods after taking in a new dog is that you will be able to observe the dog’s personality and behavior for a time. Then, if they’re not acting like themselves as you introduce the new food, you’ll have a cue that something may be wrong.
On day one of the switch, my husband or I would mix a few new pieces into the dogs’ current food. After a few more days, the next test was to always feed him or her using equal parts new and old food. Once the dog seemed to be keen on the idea of eating the new food, we’d give the new food to him or her exclusively.
I’ve never known a dog, especially the pug breed, to turn down food. The pug isn’t usually a breed that’s picky about what they eat. (I think of pugs as the goats of the canine world: furry vacuums [daresay, “garbage disposals”?] ready to inhale any tasty morsels that comes upon their internal radar…) So, maybe that’s why usually within 3-4 days, the switch was successful.
But, you may want to heed the advice on the official website of Doctors Foster and Smith (veterinarian-owned since 1983): “We recommend switching to a new food gradually over the course of 7-10 days. For example, make a mixture that contains 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food and feed that for three days. Then make it 50-50 for three more days, then 75% new food and 25% old food for three more days. If your pet seems comfortable with this progression, you can start feeding 100% new food.”
Another reason to change your dog’s food is to be proactive and help ward off allergies or vitamin deficiencies. DogFoodAnalysis.com states that changing a dog to a different brand or type of food from time to time, about every three months, can do just that.
For example, if your dog has been on a dog food that lists chicken as the first ingredient, you may want to give your pooch a food that contains lamb. DogFoodAnalysis.com suggests that since your dog isn’t getting a varied diet when eating the same food day after day, switching up the key or other main ingredients can help fill in gaps and keep your furry buddy from developing an allergy to an ingredient he or she ingests too much of over time.
If your dog has the following symptoms, slow down the switch and talk to your veterinarian:
- loose stools
- skin infections
- yeast infections
Always consult your vet with any questions you may have or if your dog seems sick.
Just a note that if your dog has a mildly upset stomach, feeding him a plain diet for a couple of days can help. Think about it: when you have an upset stomach, you don’t want to usually gobble down Big Macs! More than likely, you want simple broth or plain toast. In a similar style, offer your doggie safe, comfortable foods like pure canned pumpkin or rice with plain hamburger. Again, consult a veterinarian first with any concerns.