Dogs don’t generally get bored with eating the same food every day, but sometimes a need arises and we switch them to a new feed. It could be time for adult or senior food or a lower calorie food to control their weight. Your dog’s lifestyle can change, and that could mean a different food would be better. Often, simply being a more informed pet parent means you realise your dog would thrive on a different food. If you are wondering ‘how do I change my dog’s food’, you’ll be glad to know it is not terribly difficult, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Before you change your dog’s food, you have to choose a new food. It can be tempting to go with one that is on sale at a reduced price, but if you change food often, your dog can suffer for it. While some dogs seem to have cast iron stomachs, others react badly to sudden changes in diet. The best plan is to consider your individual dog’s age, size/ breed type, activity level and health, and then choose a food that will meet their needs so they feel great and have plenty of energy and pep to enjoy life. Whatever type of dog food you decide to get, one of the most important criteria is quality, natural ingredients.
How Do I Change My Dog’s Food?
The best way to change your dog’s food is to mix the new food with the old food, gradually increasing the amount of the new food while decreasing the old. Some dogs need to change more gradually than others, and these are only guidelines. If your dog develops very loose stools that last more than a day, you can slow down the transition.
Most dogs do well if you change their food in four steps.
- Feed a mix of two parts old food and one part new food for a week.
- Feed equal portions of old and new food for a week.
- Feed one part old food and two parts new food for a week.
- Begin feeding the new food exclusively.
If your dog has a sensitive tummy or is fussy about food, you can slow this by starting with three parts old food to one part new food for a week. Then go to two parts old food to one part new food for a few days before switching to equal portions.
In some cases, the amounts of food recommended for the old and new feeds are very different, leaving dog owners asking ‘how do I change my dog’s food when I’ll be reducing the amount of kibble?’ Usually, the food recommending larger portions uses a lot of filler. The dog needs to eat more to get an adequate amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. A food with smaller portions is usually a more nutrient-dense food. (Besides having a healthier dog, you’ll have less to clean up. Win-win!)
The solution is simple. Feed two thirds of the recommended portion of old food with one third of recommended portion of new food. This way, the volume of food decreases slowly, making it less alarming for your dog.
What If I Need to Change Dog Foods Quickly?
Sometimes, it isn’t possible to follow the best practice for changing your dog’s food. Perhaps your dog has developed an allergy to something in the food, or perhaps the food has been discontinued. In these cases, always talk to your vet about transitioning your dog’s food. It is likely that your dog will have some stomach upset and you will have some extra cleaning to do. Your vet can discuss what you can do that is appropriate to help your individual dog.
If you are moving house and you are happy with the dog food you are using, it makes sense to bring an extra bag of it when you move. You might not be able to find it locally, and this means you can avoid a sudden transition. Many foods are available online, so if you can’t find yours near you, you can probably have it delivered.
How Do I Know the New Food Is Right for My Dog?
This is the question pet parents tend to ask right after ‘how do I change my dog’s food’. It isn’t always easy to be sure at first. Remember, even if the food is absolutely ideal for your dog, their body might still need some time to adjust to it. It is normal for a dog to have a day or so of loose stools when they transition to a new food.
While many dogs are excited to try something new, a few are put off by a change in food. Taking the transition slowly can help with this. But it is important that your dog like the food. Avoid the temptation to add any little treats to make it more enticing. Your dog will quickly come to expect them and not eat until you cooperate.
After your dog has fully transitioned onto a new food, their condition should tell you that you’ve made the right decision. Their coat should be shinier. They should have more pep in their step, especially if it is an older dog transitioning to a senior food. If the new food is a light feed such as Leader Slimline, those unwanted kilos should start to slowly fade away. On the right food, your dog should thrive, enjoy meals, have plenty of energy, bright eyes, healthy skin and a glossy coat.