Your vet may have recommended a new food or you may just be thinking about changing your dog’s food to something new. There are “right ways” and “wrong ways” to change the food and we will give you recommendations below on the very best way. To make it extra easy for you, we will share a day-to-day schedule of how to change your dog’s food.
Sudden changes in dog foods – even from one very good food to another good food – can cause gastrointestinal upset in some dogs. There are dogs that do fine with a total fast change but other dogs will have problems. The most common symptom a dog will exhibit is diarrhea. The next most common symptom is vomiting. And some dogs will have both vomiting and diarrhea.
The best thing to do is to prevent a gastrointestinal upset by following the recommendations below on how to change your dog’s food.
How to Change Your Dog’s Food
The key to changing a pet’s food is “slowly!”
The best way to start a new food for your dog is to begin by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the original food and do this over several days. Gradually increase the percentages over 10 days until you are feeding almost all new food then make the final switch.
For example, here is a schedule of how to change your dog’s food over 10 days:
- Day one – Feed 90% original food, 10% new food.
- Day two, Feed 80% original, 20% new food
- Day three – Feed 70% original, 30% new food
- Day four – Feed 60% original, 40% new food
- Day five – Feed 50% original, 50% new food
- Day six – Feed 40% original, 60% new food
- Day seven – Feed 30% original, 70% new food
- Day eight – Feed 20% original, 80% new food
- Day nine – Feed 10% original, 90% new food
- Day ten – Feed 100% new food
You can accelerate this by doing it over 3 or 4 days but the ten-day transition works well in most dogs.
What You Should Know About Feeding Your Dog
Since you are going through the effort of changing your dog’s food, why not make sure you are picking the best food? Below are a couple very good nutrition articles that may help you provide the best nutrition for your dog:
- How to Read Dog Food Labels– Most pet owners don’t understand pet food labels. This is an important article to help you understand what everything on the label means to help you choose the very best food for your dog.
- Commonly Asked Questions about Canine Nutrition– This is a really good article that covers topics and answers questions about how much should you feed your dog, how often should you feed, should you feed canned or dry, is it safe to give bones, are rawhides good or bad, do dogs get bored eating the same food every day, should you be giving vitamins or supplements, should you feed raw meat and thoughts about raw meat diets, and much more. There are 22 dog nutrition questions and answers in this excellent article.
- Nutrition in Dogs – This is a great article on nutrition in dogs. This will help you understand how to feed your dog and exactly what he or she needs to stay healthy.
- 5 Ways to Combat Pet Obesity – Obesity is very common in dogs and can cause a lot of health risks. Some veterinarians believe that keeping your dog at an ideal weight can potentially increase life expectancy by two years! The formula is generally pretty easy and consists of 3 keys. 1. Eat less. 2. Eat lower calorie food. 3. Exercise more. Learn more about how to combat obesity in your dog.
- What You Should Know About Feeding Bones – Do you feed bones to your dog? Do vets routinely recommend bones? The answer may surprise you. Check out this article.
What You Should Do If Your Dog Gets Diarrhea and/or Vomiting
If you follow the instructions above, hopefully, your dog will do fine with the food change. However, vomiting and diarrhea can happen. Below are some tips on what you can do at home. These are really good articles to even save and print in the case it is a problem in your home at any time.
Vomiting and/or diarrhea are two of the most common reasons dogs go to the veterinarian. Anything from changing food, table scraps, viral infections, bacterial infections, liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, and much more can all cause vomiting and/or diarrhea.
If the diarrhea is the only symptom and your dog is otherwise acting normal and has no vomiting, follow these instructions on Home Care for the Dog with Diarrhea. If your dog is lethargic, weak or begins vomiting, it is safest to call your veterinarian so they can examine him to help determine the underlying cause and provide additional treatment recommendations.
If your dog is vomiting, you can follow these instructions: Home Care for the Dog with Vomiting. If your dog is lethargic or weak, it is safest to call your veterinarian so they can examine him to help determine the underlying cause and importantly provide additional treatment recommendations which may include fluid therapy and/or injectable medications (since he is vomiting and may be unable to keep oral medications down).
If your dog is having both vomiting and having diarrhea, you can follow these instructions: Home Care for the Dog with Vomiting and Diarrhea. These instructions include specific recommendations on what to do at home in this circumstance. However, if your dog is acting lethargic, weak or showing any other abnormal signs, the safest thing to do is to take him to your veterinarian. They may want to do additional testing to determine the underlying cause such as blood work and/or radiographs or treat with fluids, injectable medications, bland foods, and/or oral medication for when the vomiting has subsided.
We hope this article helps you understand the best way to start a new food for your dog by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the original food and do this over several days.