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Animals, People, & the Earth

How to Introduce a New Food to Your Dog

Dogs Love Variety Too

When the seasons change, we start adding lots of fresh fruits and veggies to our diets. Maybe it’s a good time to make some changes to your pet’s diet too! It is a myth that you shouldn’t change foods often. In fact, a regular rotation is helpful to maintain variety and avoid allergic reactions. For the best results, rotate between protein sources such as beef, lamb, and chicken.

Maybe you have other reasons to switch your dog’s food. Your picky eater may have decided he no longer enjoys the food you’ve been feeding him, or you may want to start feeding him higher quality food, such as Earth Animal’s Wisdom Dog Food. You may want to switch to homemade food, or he may be sick and need a medically prescribed diet. Whatever the reason for the change, it is important to note that you don’t want to simply stop feeding one kind of food and start with the new food immediately. This could cause your dog to suffer digestive upset and lose interest in eating altogether. Instead, you’ll want to wean your dog off his old food while starting him slowly on his new food.

Steps to Transitioning your Dog to a New Diet

It will take about one week to successfully change your healthy dog’s diet without causing him to experience the potential side effects of switching abruptly, such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. If your dog is more sensitive or has health issues or allergies, then you should go even more slowly with the transition.

In general, however, plan to feed your dog using 25% of the new food mixed with 75% of the old food for the first two days of the transition. On days three and four, move to 50% new food mixed with 50% old food. Move up to 75% new food mixed with 25% old food for days five and six. Finally, feed your dog 100% new food on days seven and after.

While your dog is making this food transition, keep an eye out for any signs of a problem, including discomfort, changes in bowel movements, vomiting, lethargy, or food refusal. If you notice any of these symptoms, slow down the process. Reduce the percentages of the new food mixed with old food and lengthen the time between increasing the percentage of new food. If your dog still seems to be rejecting the new food, consult your veterinarian to rule out illness and get suggestions for alternative foods.

What If Digestive Issues Persist?

If your dog still has digestive problems no matter how slowly you make the food transition, he may have food sensitivities. You may need to do an elimination trial to determine what particular ingredients are causing him problems. Typically, this involves restricting your dog’s diet to a veterinarian-recommended or bland diet for about eight weeks and then reintroducing foods one at a time to see which ones cause the sensitivity. Your veterinarian will walk through this process with you and help you to identify the safest foods for your dog.

Transitioning your dog to a new food takes time and patience to do it right and keep your dog from suffering from digestive troubles. Just follow the straightforward protocol and keep an eye out for problems, and your dog will be enjoying his new menu in no time.

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