How To Switch Dog Food
By Hungry Bark | August 2, 2020
Imagine eating the same thing day after day - the same meal over and over for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It would get pretty boring after a while. What about your dog? Is it possible for them to get bored with the same food? Is it safe to change a dog’s food, or do they need to eat the same thing every day?
If you’re considering switching your dog’s diet, the first step is to identify why you are thinking about making that change. Do you have a picky eater? Are you concerned they’re getting bored? Do they have a medical issue you think might improve with a change in diet? We’ll guide you through the ins and outs of switching your dog’s food and how to find the right food for your dog.
Is it okay to switch dog food?
If you are concerned about disrupting your dog’s routine by switching their food, you don’t need to worry. A little variety in their diet can be beneficial. Switching their food occasionally can keep their digestive system flexible enough to not go through distress in the event their preferred food becomes unavailable or if you are in a situation where you are forced to change foods.
Switching dog foods is also necessary to meet changing life stages as your dog ages and develops different nutritional needs. Dogs with chronic skin allergies or those who are overweight may see health benefits from a change of diet. Some medical conditions in your dog, such as diabetes, food allergies, kidney disease, and pancreatitis require a change in diet; however, these medical diets should be monitored by a veterinarian.
How To Choose a Dog Food
With all the options on the market, deciding on a food for your dog is an overwhelming task. There are things to take into consideration that will make it easier to select the right food for your dog.
- Select a high-quality food. The quality of food makes a huge difference, and this can be reflected in the price. Resist the urge to make choices based purely on price. High-quality foods are more nutritionally balanced and have better quality ingredients and fewer fillers. This means dogs feel satisfied with a smaller amount of food. Good nutrition can also lead to better health and fewer vet visits. Taking these things into consideration actually makes high-quality food more cost-effective.
- Check the ingredients list. Food that claims to only contain one ingredient must be made up of at least 95% of that ingredient, this includes water.
- Choose food that is nutritionally adequate. The label on your dog’s food should tell you which life stages that type of food is meant to support. Some foods are suitable for dogs of all ages, while some are designed for specific age groups.
- Look for a variety of ingredients on the label, such as fruits and vegetables. Plant ingredients are not fillers, and they help provide vital nutrients to your dog.
- Check the manufacturer. Read the label to find out where the food is manufactured so you can have some idea of how well quality is controlled and if the ingredients are derived from an ethical and sustainable source.
- Look for foods that have meat listed as the first or second ingredient, and avoid fillers such as corn, which provide little nutrition to your dog.
- Is grain-free right for your dog? There is a debate in the veterinary world over the benefits of grain in your dog’s food. Some dogs can benefit from a grain-free diet, while to others, it makes no difference. Consult your veterinarian to find out what option best suits your specific dog.
- Does your dog have allergies? If you have a dog that suffers from allergies, some foods are more likely to cause problems. Beef, dairy, and wheat are 3 of the ingredients most likely to have a negative effect on a dog with allergies.
- Talk to your vet. This isn’t always necessary, but if your dog has medical concerns that you feel could benefit from a change in diet, consult their veterinarian. They may be able to guide you toward a diet that is right for your dog.
- Don’t be intimidated by the label. Most of what you need to know you can learn from reading the label on your dog’s food. The more you know, the easier it is for you to make a decision.
How To Switch Dog Food
Switching your dog’s food needs to be done gradually. Some dogs have iron stomachs, but others are more sensitive to even the smallest change. Slowly introducing a new food will help prevent stomach upset that can occur. If your dog is prone to allergies, it is especially important that you change their food slowly so you notice any changes that may occur. You should introduce the new food over a period of about a week, but be flexible. If your dog has a sensitive stomach it may take longer for them to acclimate to a new diet. Some dogs may experience loose stools during the first part of the transition. If this occurs, slow the introduction to give them more time to adjust. If they have prolonged vomiting or diarrhea after a gradual transition, or they demonstrate loss of appetite, visit your vet. Your dog may be reacting badly to an ingredient in the new food.
A good transitional schedule should look like this:
- Days 1 to 3: 75% old to 25% new
- Days 4 to 6: 50% old to 50% new
- Days 7 to 10: 25% old to 75% new
- Day 11: 100% new food
If you are looking for a high-quality, nutrient-dense food, consider Hungry Bark. Recipes include superfood ingredients like cranberries, flaxseed, and kelp. Every ingredient is thoughtfully and ethically sourced. And even the packaging is sustainable!
On top of that, Hungry Bark provides customized meal-plans, based on your dog’s breed, health concerns, and specific goals for your dog such as weight loss or improved energy. Create your dog’s customized meal plan in less than a minute with this Custom Meal Plan Quiz!