If you’ve been a dog owner for a while, you may find yourself looking to swap out your dog’s dry food for a new one, but, it’s important to know how to change dog’s dry food the right way.
Whether you’ve uncovered a health condition, found a new food you prefer to give your dog, or just want to give your dog some variety, changing your dog’s dry food may not be as easy as expected.
Dogs thrive on routine. They get up in the morning, eat breakfast, wait for you to get home from work, eat dinner, and do it all again the next day.
Okay, maybe it’s not this monotonous, but you get the point.
When a dog’s routine is thrown off, they can experience anxiety, behavioral issues, difficulty training, and even weight gain. Mealtimes are an especially important routine for your dog to have in place, and when this changes, it can cause some discomfort, both physically and mentally.
However, there are some excellent reasons why you may need to change your dog’s dry food. For example, if your vet talks to you about your dog’s weight gain and recommends you find healthier food, or if they’re allergic to an ingredient in their current dog food, you’ll need to know how to transition your dog to a different brand or recipe.
If this sounds like a lot at first, don’t sweat it. This guide has everything you need to know about how to change dry dog food, how to choose a new food, and a few tips and tricks for everything in between.
Transitioning Your Dog to New Dry Food
The most important guideline to remember when transitioning your dog to a new dry food is that you can’t do it all at once. The transition process typically takes around a week, though it may take longer if your dog has health issues, gastrointestinal sensitivity, is a puppy, or has anxiety.
By giving your dog a week to adjust to the new food, you give their digestive systems time to acclimate to the new diet, gradually get used to the new ingredients, and make the process smoother altogether.
The process also looks different for adult dogs and puppies, so let’s break down each process step by step.
How To Change Adult Dog’s Dry Food
When you’re transitioning your adult dog to new dry food, you’ll want to gradually make that transition by slowly changing the ratio of new food to old food you put in their dish. Each day, you’ll change these percentages, starting from just a little new food, until one day you give them 100% of their new food, and that old food can get dropped off at your local humane shelter.
On the first day, give your dog 25% new food and 75% old food.
Keep these amounts for the second day, and then on the third day, give them 50% new diet and 50% old diet. Continue this amount for the fourth day, too.
By the fifth day, you can increase the new diet to 75% and include 25% of the old diet, which you’ll do for the sixth day as well.
And finally, on the seventh day, you can give your dog 100% of their new diet.
Congrats, that’s it!
How To Change Puppy’s Dry Food
Puppies are growing fast, so their stomachs are much more sensitive to changes in diet than older dogs.
You may change the amount of protein, fiber, carbs, fats, and other ingredients that your dog is eating, so going extra slow for puppies is the best way to make the transition process as smooth as possible.
For the first three days of the transition, give your puppy 25% new food and 75% old food.
If your puppy experiences digestive issues after eating the new food, you can extend this period to be longer by a few days until they’re a little more adjusted.
On the fourth day (or whatever day you’re ready to move to the next percentage), you can give your puppy equal portions of new food and old food, continuing this for another two or three days.
Then, around the seventh to tenth day, your puppy can have 75% new food with 25% old food.
Finally, a few days after that transition, your puppy should be able to handle eating the new food entirely.
Tips To Make the Transition Process Go More Smoothly
Here are some ways you can make the transition process go as smoothly as possible:
Keep an eye on your dog’s stool. If you want to get to know how your dog’s digestion is doing, just take a look at your dog’s stool. Keep an eye out for any large changes that may indicate a problem with their new food.
For instance, if your dog is having diarrhea, a significant change in color or consistency, and/or you’re seeing changes last for more than just a few days, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s digestive health, and if the food could be causing gastrointestinal irritation.
Talk to your veterinarian. It’s always a good idea to keep your dog’s veterinarian in the loop, especially when you’re transitioning to new dry dog food. They will be able to advise you on what nutrient needs your dog has and whether they need to change their caloric intake.
If your dog’s stomach is sensitive, go even slower. There are some cases where you may need to change your dog’s food abruptly. If there’s a food recall, or your dog has a serious allergic reaction to food, you may need to transition faster.
However, in most cases, you can also stretch the process out for however long you want. If your dog seems to be extra sensitive to the transition, you can adjust the process and stretch it out by doubling the days in each stage, or go even longer if you’d like.
Keep an eye on your dog’s stools to get an idea of when they’re ready for more new food, and keep your veterinarian in the loop through the process, too, if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Help your dog eat their new food slowly. One way you can help your dog go through the transition process is by helping them eat slower. Eating quickly can cause gastrointestinal upset, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, bloat, indigestion, and much more.
Especially if your dog already has a sensitive stomach, eating new food quickly can wreak havoc on their insides. There are many ways you can help your dog eat slower. Some bowls can help your dog eat slower by separating the food with a maze-looking design that makes them work a little harder to eat up those tiny pieces. You can also put dog food in cupcake tins, which makes it harder for your dog to effectively inhale their meal in just a few swallows.
Why Would I Need To Change My Dog’s Food in the First Place?
After reading this, you may be wondering why you’d need to change your dog’s dry food in the first place.
If they’re happy, why change anything?
While transitioning to a new dog food isn’t a piece of cake, there are many reasons why exploring newer, better quality foods can benefit your pup.
Many popular dog food brands include ingredients like corn, soy, wheat, and rice as the main ingredient, or as a significant ingredient in dog food. These ingredients have no nutritional content for your dog and are meant to be fillers.
In other words, they make your dog feel full faster. In the long term, this can lead to weight gain, malnutrition, and obesity, which can lead to a variety of health conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, and more.
If you notice weight gain in your dog, or if your veterinarian recommends your dog try to lose weight, it might be time to switch dog foods. Look for dog food that doesn’t contain these fillers, and has natural ingredients, meats, and fruits and vegetables instead.
Food Allergies or Sensitivities
You may also need to change your dog’s food if you notice a dog food allergy. There are many common dog food allergies, such as chicken, corn, wheat, dairy products, and beef.
If you notice dry skin, itching, sneezing, watery eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, or any other changes in behavior, it may be signs of a dog food allergy.
Luckily, most dog food allergies aren’t serious and simply require a change in diet. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re not sure what ingredient your dog is sensitive to or if they’re sensitive at all.
You can also learn more about common dog food allergens here!
You can also learn more about common dog food allergens here!
You may also need to swap out your dog’s food due to gastrointestinal issues. Some dog foods aren’t so easy to digest. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you may need to swap out their food to one that doesn’t bother them so much.
Look for foods made without wheat and corn or artificial ingredients. Keeping food as natural as possible is an excellent way to keep your dog happy, healthy, and comfortable.
Swapping your dog’s dry food for a new one can take lots of patience, time, and a little bit of trial and error along the way, but finding the best dog food for your best friend is worth it.
That’s why we made Sundays for Dogs. A natural, air-dried dog food that follows the standards set in place for human food, you know you’re getting the best out of every bite.
Learn more about our dog food here!
4 Reasons Your Dog Needs a Routine | Pet Coach
Food Allergies | Pet Food Institute