Changing your dog's diet should occur over a period of time to prevent your dog from developing gastrointestinal upset and vomiting. Sometimes a change in his diet is necessary to transition him to a more age-appropriate food, such as a change to a senior food for an adult dog and an adult food for a puppy. Your veterinarian may also recommend a change to a prescription brand of dog food from your current one to treat a food allergy or other type of chronic illness. Whatever the reason, the change must be gradual.
Mix in one-quarter of the daily recommended portion of the new brand of dog food into three-quarters of the portion of your dog's current brand of food. Serve this mixture to your dog for three to four days, depending on how receptive your dog is to the food.
Add a teaspoon or two of low-sodium beef or chicken broth to the food if your dog shows resistance to try the new food. The broth makes the food more appetizing without adding any calories to the food or potentially stomach-upsetting ingredients. If transitioning from a canned food to a dry one, the broth will soften the harder kibble during the change
Change the mixture of the old brand of dog food and the new one to equal amounts, with each making up one-half of the daily recommended portion by the manufacturer of each food. Feed this mix of food for four days. If you notice that your dog's stool becomes loose or he begins to vomit or refuse to eat, go back to the previous mix of one-quarter to three-quarters for four days and start the change again.
Increase the amount of the new brand of food in your dog's daily feeding to three-quarters of the daily recommended amount, reducing the old food to one-quarter of the portion. Feed this amount for four to five days.
Monitor your dog's stool and behavior. Eating a majority of the new food may cause diarrhea, constipation or vomiting. Other symptoms, such as itchy skin or lethargy, may indicate an allergy to the new food or one of the ingredients in it; seek the advice of a veterinarian if this occurs.
Feed only the new food according to the manufacturer's directions to complete the transition. If you have been adding low-sodium broth to the food, reduce the amount over the course of three to four days until you are only feeding the new food with nothing added to it.
Consult your veterinarian if your dog suffers from a condition such as diabetes mellitus or any form of kidney disease before changing his diet in any way. These types of diseases are affected by the ingredients in your dog's food, and you can inadvertently worsen his condition by changing to a new brand of food with different ingredients.
Unless you are changing your dog's food due to a food allergy and need to eliminate its ingredients from his diet, pick a brand of food that has the same or similar ingredients to the one you are currently feeding. For example, if the main ingredient in your dog's current food is beef, stick to that type of protein in the new brand. This eases the transition and reduces the chances of gastrointestinal upset.
Changing from a dry food to a canned one or vice versa uses the same steps, providing a gradual transition. This type of change may face more resistance from your dog based on the change in texture and taste. A change to a canned food from a dry one may be more easily accepted because of the stronger smell and softer texture of the new food.
If your dog seems very enthusiastic about his new food and eats it very quickly, divide the portions of it into three or four smaller ones and feed them throughout the day. This is especially important for deep-chested dog breeds that can develop bloat, a serious medical condition that can result from eating too rapidly.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Dogs with Finicky Tastes
- PetPlace.com: Commonly Asked Questions About Dog Nutrition
- VetInfo: How to Change Dogs' Food
- Canidae All Natural Pet Foods: Transitioning Your Dog to a New Pet Food
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Bloat
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Allergies
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