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4 steps for a healthy, successful switching of dog food
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4 steps for a healthy, successful switching of dog food

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Your dog’s diet contributes to longevity and good health. With the proper food, you’ll have a happy, healthy dog on your hands.

You may find a better food for your dog than the one you’re already feeding them, due to health, allergies or quality of food. Whatever your reason is for a change, when you switch dog food, it’s important to do so carefully.

Here are four tips on how to healthily switch out your dog’s food.

How to choose new food for your dog‌

Several factors are at play when deciding which new food to feed your dog.

If you’re looking for something your dog will eagerly eat at mealtime, consider the flavor carefully and choose one with a different primary protein source. For instance, you might replace a fish formula with a chicken-based formula.

Unless your dog has allergies, we recommend dog food with grain, since whole grains are good for the heart. Grain-free dog foods have been linked to certain types of heart disease in dogs.

You’ll need to decide whether you’d rather feed your pet kibble, wet food or a mixture of the two. Picky dogs might find wet food more palatable, but that can be an expensive diet to maintain.

Less common alternatives are freeze-dried or raw dog foods.

How to switch dog food gradually‌

The best way to switch dog food is over the course of a week. This helps avoid digestive problems, such as diarrhea, vomiting and excess flatulence. Often, when dog owners think a new food doesn’t agree with their dog, it’s because they’ve transitioned too quickly. Here’s a rough schedule to help your dog transition:

Days 1-2

75% old food

25% new food

Days 3-4

50% old food

50% new food

Days 5-6

25% old food

75% new food

Day 7 and on

Only new food

Before switching, compare the feeding guidelines on the old food and the new food. If the new food is higher or lower in calories, this will affect the portion size you should feed your dog.

When to consider switching quickly‌

Although we’d almost always recommend switching foods gradually, there are some situations in which it makes sense to switch foods immediately. This is generally in cases where you believe the food is causing an allergic reaction in your dog or making them sick; it’s wise to see your vet first for this.

If you must switch your dog’s food without a gradual transition period, consider first skipping a meal and then feeding your dog around half to three-quarters of their normal portion size for a couple of meals.

A canine probiotic supplement can also help to avoid unpleasant gastroenterological symptoms, like vomiting and loose stools.

What to watch for after switching food

When switching your dog to a new food, it’s important you keep an eye on your canine companion to make sure it agrees with them.

Watch for signs of diarrhea, vomiting, itchiness or lethargy. It’s not unusual to have some changes in stool texture at first, but liquid diarrhea isn’t normal, especially if you gradually introduce the new food.

Over time, if the new food is agreeing with your dog, you should notice that they have a decent amount of energy (not sluggish or hyperactive), bright eyes, a healthy coat and skin, properly formed stools and enthusiasm about mealtimes.

Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews, a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.


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