How to Switch Your Dog Food Without Barfing
It often seems like our dogs have iron clad stomachs. We see them digging in the trash and eating almost anything they can get their mouth around…including socks. But they have a more sensitive stomach than you might think. It is pretty common for dogs to have a reaction to changing the kind of dog food they are eating. Changing your dogs food can cause a variety of stomach upset issues such as vomiting, diarrhea and a decreased appetite.
There may be many reasons why you might change your dogs food. Maybe its time to go from puppy food to adult food. Maybe your dog needs to lose weight and is on a diet. Maybe they have special veterinary needs such as diabetes. Maybe the store was simply out of your brand. Whatever your reason if you want to avoid a lot of messy clean up and keep your dog from feeling sick, you need to transition into your new food. Don’t just switch it all at once.
How to Change Your Dog’s Food
They key is a slow transition. A quick transition of one kind of dog food to another can cause vomiting, diarrhea and a decreased appetite. How long should the transition be? I am glad you asked. Typically it is good to do it over a 5-7 day period of time. The idea is simple, each day you give a little bit more of the new food and a little bit less of the old food until you are no longer using the old food. You want to mix it all together. I have known of dogs that would only eat the old food, or only eat the new food. Making sure that it is mixed will prevent them from being picky.
Recommended Schedule for Dog Food Transition
Here is our recommended transition schedule for changing from one kind of dog food to another. This includes going from store bought to homemade dog food.
- Day 1: 25% new food and 75% old food
- Day 2: 25% new food and 75% old food (same as day 1)
- Day 3: 50% new food and 50% old food
- Day 4: 50% new food and 50% old food (same as day 3)
- Day 5: 75% new food and 25% old food.
- Day 6: 75% new food and 25% old food. (same as day 5)
- Day 7: 100% new food.
You will notice that day 2, 4, and 6, are the same as the day before. It is a good idea to let your dog adjust to the change over two days worth of feedings. If you notice that your dog is having trouble with this schedule you can try feeding them the same mix for three or four days instead of just two, or you can reduce the percentage of new food. An example would be 10% new food 90% old food for 2 days, then day three feed 20% new food and 80% old food, you can see the pattern.
If you are concerned about your dogs reaction to switching food, don’t hesitate to call your Albuquerque vet. It is possible that there is an underlying medical condition, or maybe it is just the wrong food for your dog. Your local veterinarian will be able to help you make the right dietary adjustments.
The Poop Test
It may sound yucky but the best way to monitor how your dog is adjusting to the new food is to watch their poop. We recommend paying attention to what their poop looked like before you started the transition. Pay attention to changes in softness, color, and consistency. Here is a great reference to know if you have healthy or unhealthy dog poop.
If you are concerned your dog is having a adverse reaction to changing their diet, please call your vet immediately.