How To Transition Your Dog Or Cat To A New Food
- Your pet has a food allergy or sensitivity
- Your pet is entering a new life stage
- Your pet needs to lose or gain weight
- Your veterinarian has recommended a specific diet for your pet
- You want to give your pet more of a variety
Whatever the reason is for change, you should always consult with a veterinarian before transitioning your pet to a new diet. Dogs and cats can experience an upset stomach if you don’t transition them to a new food gradually. Transitioning too quickly can lead to diarrhea, vomiting or even loss of appetite.
When transitioning to a new pet food, do so slowly over a period of about 710 days, mixing an increasing amount of new food with old food each day:
Some pets may be easier to transition than others, and cats tend to be more finicky than dogs. Closely monitor your pet during the transition to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need. If you notice your pet refusing to eat the new food, or if your pet starts vomiting or has diarrhea or constipation, you should slow down the rate you are switching the food. If problems continue, consult with your veterinarian.
How To Change Dog Food
This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as Dr. B to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA accredited hospital and Bostons first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. This article has been viewed 24,878 times.
It might appear very simple to change a dogs food. Buy a bag of dog food and offer servings to your dog. In reality, if you dont want a sick or unhealthy dog on your hands you will need to make a gradual change and be cautious when you do. Use some wise decisions when you change your dogs food and your dog won’t experience any negative effects.
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The Right Time To Change Foods
Your pets nutritional needs often change with different life stages. So it makes sense to move to a different food when your pet grows from a puppy or kitten to an adult and again when they enter their senior years.
Certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes or simply weight gain may necessitate a diet change. Or you may just have personal reasons for trying a new formula, such as ingredient or brand preferences or just to save money. Its important to note that if your pet suddenly stops enjoying the current food you purchase, you should consult your veterinarian before making a switch.
Whatever the reason, there are actually times when you may not want to change your pets food, and thats when your dog or cat is really sick. A diet change may add more stress to a body that needs to focus on getting healthy.
Transitioning To Homemade Dog Food
Most dogs dont have a problem making the switch to homemade food. If yours is prone to digestive issues, start slowly by mixing a little bit of the homemade food with the commercial food.
Over the course of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of homemade food while decreasing the commercial food.
If your dog vomits or has diarrhea, try introducing only a couple of new ingredients at a time until their systems are well adjusted to the fresh diet.
For dogs with health issues, please consult with a veterinarian if you arent sure what kind of supplements are needed. Use your best judgment, the way you would when feeding yourself or your family.
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The Proof Is In The Poop
The best way to monitor your dogs digestive health is to pay attention to the quality of the stool. While minor variations in stool color and consistency are normal, any major changes can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. A great way to evaluate your dogs stool is to use a Fecal Scoring Chart. An ideal fecal score is 34. Lower numbers may indicate dehydration or constipation, while higher numbers are indicative of gastrointestinal upset, which can be due to a variety of factors. If your dogs stool is consistently outside of the normal range, it is recommended that you consult your veterinarian regarding your dogs digestive health.
When Do I Need To Take My Dog To The Vet
If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea for more than three days, or has symptoms accompanied by lethargy, you should talk to your vet about the transition.
If your dog suffers from a serious medical condition, such as advanced kidney disease or pancreatitis, they may require a more stringent diet, and Nom Nom may not be the right fit. Remember to consult your veterinarian before changing his diet.
The Nom Nom R& D team is on the lookout for dogs that experience regular diarrhea to participate in their new GI targeted probiotics trial. Sound like someone in your house? See if your dog qualifies for this paid research study here.
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Reasons For Changing Dog Foods
Its okay to switch dog food. In fact, at some point, it may be necessary. Here are a few reasons you may need to switch up your dogs food:
- Age: Around their first birthday , puppies need to transition to an adult dog food. Around age seven, most dogs are considered senior and may benefit from switching to a senior formula.
- Weight: If your dog is not his ideal body condition, your veterinarian may recommend a weight management formula. Not all weight changes need to be addressed through a change in the food itself. It may just require feeding more or less of the current food. Your veterinarian can help you determine whats best for your dog.
- Activity Levels: Dogs who participate in shows, sporting or agility events or who have demanding jobs may need a formula to support those activities. These types of dog foods often have higher levels of protein and calories. As dogs retire from these activities, they may need to switch to a lower-calorie food to avoid unnecessary weight gain.
- Health: Some foods have been formulated to help veterinarians nutritionally manage certain health conditions. For example, your veterinarian may prescribe a therapeutic formula to help support the unique nutritional needs of dogs with GI conditions.
Downsides To A Rotation Diet For Dogs
Since transitioning my dogs to a raw food diet, I haven’t noticed any problems when switching proteins. However, when I fed kibble, there was always the risk of GI upset when the dogs started a new food, so I would transition slowly. If you have a dog with a very sensitive GI system, then switching proteins can cause stomach upset, especially when the dog is new to raw feeding. So I recommend transitioning slowly.
If your dog has a history of GI distress, you’ll need to focus on getting your dog on a better diet and healing your dog’s gut. I recommend the following steps based on my experience raising Rodrigo:
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No Need For Balancing Fats
Earlier this year, Dogs Naturally Magazine broke my brain when they told raw feeders that we needed to begin balancing the fats in our dog’s raw diets. What???? After a few days of wringing my hands as I researched the best sources for walnut and chia seed oil, I was reminded that as long as I’m rotating the proteins, I add to my dogs’ raw diet, I’m golden.
I do add the following fat sources to my dogs’ raw diet:
Dull And Lethargic: Recovery From Illness
If your dog is recovering from a recent illness, surgery or a stressful event, he may be feeling a little run down and duller than normal. Can his normal diet support him through times of illness or recovery? In these times, he might benefit from a diet that has a high energy content and is enriched with immune-boosting antioxidants, to boost his recovery. However, if your dog is suddenly acting dull, weak or lethargic then it is important to seek veterinary advice before changing his diet.
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Changing Your Pet Food: Why And How
There are many reasons to consider switching pet food flavors, types or brands. But how do you go about changing your pet food, and how do you know its really time?
Your pet may eagerly devour a new type of pet food. But your pets digestive tract may not be as enthusiastic: Vomiting, diarrhea and gas are just a few of the potential consequences to a sudden food switch. Thats why food transitions should be made gradually, over the course of a week or more, to give your pets digestive tract a chance to adjust.
Identify When He’s Not Ready
Your dog may not seem to tolerate the new food, no matter how slowly you go, and that’s OK too. Slowly shift him back to the old food and start again with something else after giving his tummy a break. It could be that the new dog food contains ingredients to which your dog has an intolerance or allergy. If you continue to have trouble changing dog food, or if his stools contain blood or an unusual color, you should consult a veterinarian.
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Reduces Chances Of Protein Intolerance
So my logic here may be false, but I believe this do you? Years ago I developed an allergy to Bing cherries and sunflower seeds. The cherries make me Frat Party sick, and the sunflower seeds make my mouth itch and swell. Neither experience is a party. I developed the allergies after eating these foods on a daily basis for months. I love cherries. I love sunflower seeds. They no longer love me.
I connected my experience with dogs and chicken. I believe that the reason we so many dogs with a chicken intolerance is because chicken is in everything. Head to a local pet store one of the chain ones and start reading ingredients on food and treats. Even if the bag says venison, there may be chicken in there too.
So my logic is that by alternating proteins instead of feeding the same food day in and day out reduces the chance of an intolerance developing.
How To Change Your Dogs Food
Switching your dogs food abruptly can cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite. Any time you decide to change your dogs food, you should transition to the new diet gradually in order to give your dogs system time to adjust to the change. Ideally, these transitions should happen over 5-7 days. During this transition, you will gradually incorporate more and more of the new food by mixing it with your dogs current diet. For most dogs, a good diet transition will look like this:
- Day 1: 25% new diet and 75% old diet.
- Day 3: 50% new diet and 50% old diet.
- Day 5: 75% new diet and 25% old diet.
- Day 7: 100% new diet.
Some dogs with sensitive stomachs, food allergies, or other gastrointestinal diseases may need an even longer transition period. The key to a good diet transition is monitoring your dogs individual response. If, at any point during the diet transition, your dog displays concerning signs such as changes in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should proceed more slowly. And if you have transitioned gradually and your dog is still experiencing stomach upset, it is best to consult with your veterinarian. In some cases, it may be necessary to choose a different diet.
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Problems When Switching Dog Food
No matter how gradually you switch your dog’s food over, sometimes they still get stomach upset. The most common problem when switching food is loose stool, and sometimes diarrhea.
Hardening your dog’s stool back up is pretty easy — there are two things you can do and one or the other may work better for your dog.
- Cook up some plain rice, , and even brown up some plain hamburger and mix the two together. Give this mixture with a little kibble mixed in with it for a day or two until your dogs stool starts to harden back up, then gradually over a couple of meals feed more kibble than rice and hamburger mixture.
- Another option for stool hardening is adding some canned pumpkin to your dogs food. It’s the same principal as the rice & hamburger mixture. Just add a generous amount to each meal and as your dog’s stool starts to harden, back the pumpkin off over a few meals.
Some thoughts to ponder. . . .
Hopefully your food transition goes smoothly, and hopefully you’re switching dog food because you want your best friend to be eating high quality food. High price does not necessarily mean high quality by the way.
One the most important things to remember is that not all foods work for all dogs — even quality foods. If your dog’s food is not agreeing with his stomach, then you should consider a switch.
A couple of ingredients that dog’s can be sensitive to are grains and protein content. For dogs with highly sensitive stomachs, lamb is usually the best protein source.
How To Choose The Best Adult Dog Food
You should choose an adult dog food formula from a dog food company that has undergone AAFCO feeding trials. This means that the specific formulation of the diet has been fed to dogs to make sure there are no deficiencies. As surprising as it may seem, many dog food companies make their food based on a recipe and never feed it to actual dogs before sending it into the stores. You want to choose a pet food company that invests in scientific research and consults with veterinary nutritionists to provide a dog food that is specially balanced for the pets lifestage.
You will also want to pay close attention to the AAFCO statement on the adult dog food formula. If the food is labeled as an All Life Stage food, the formula may have more fat and phosphorus than your adult dog needs. Discuss with your veterinarian what is best for your dogs specific needs.
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How Does The Right Food Play A Role In Your German Shepherds Health
The Happy Puppy Site states that a lot of problems German Shepherds can encounter are due to bone growth that occurs too rapidly. These issues include hip dysplasia.
Choosing the right food and feeding the right amount both play a leading role in making sure your puppy grows at an acceptable rate. The first several months of a German Shepherd Dogs life are crucial for ensuring an appropriate growth rate.
A raw diet might prove beneficial once your dog has reached adult size. One of the possible benefits is reducing the possibility of hip dysplasia.
When your puppy has a growth rate that follows a proper pace, the dog will reach the appropriate proportions when they are supposed to.
Even though all dogs run the risk of injury, a puppy that grows at the appropriate rate has healthier bones.
What Is The Optimal Way To Feed Your German Shepherd Puppy
According to Barbara Lopez, all feeding changes should be made gradually to ensure the best possible results.
The food recommended by the breeder or rescue organization should be used for the first few weeks to avoid digestive disruption, and kibble should be mixed with a little water. Clean water should be available to your puppy all day but taken up at night.
Puppies between eight and 12 weeks old do best with being fed three or four times daily. After 12 weeks, feeding your puppy twice a day is fine. Any changes to the amount of food a puppy eats should be done gradually.
Puppies will experience their most significant growth rates between three and six months old. Its essential to monitor your puppys weight during this time because, even at this age, getting overweight can lead to joint problems later in life.
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What Is The Best Type Of Food To Transition Your German Shepherd Puppy To
Puppy food for large breeds with a high protein level is best for German Shepherd puppies. Whenever possible, it is always a good idea to continue the same brand and essential formulation, but to switch to the adult version when appropriate.
You will not only avoid any issues with finicky behavior but will also help ensure that your puppy continues to meet its essential nutritional needs. The outcome of taking these steps will be better overall health for your dog.
Replace 1/4 of their current food with the new food for two days. Then, you will replace half the food for two days and three-quarters for two days, ultimately making the switch totally to the new food. This process should take two to four weeks.
This video helps put the process of switching your dog over to another food into perspective. This relatively simple step is an essential way of making sure that your dog is nourished.
Avoid adding supplements, because they may add too many nutrients that are already present in the food. Eggs, cooked vegetables, or yogurt make suitable additives for better digestion or flavor variety if you want to provide a treat.