Changing a human habit is no easy feat. Whether that’s altering your morning routine, changing your diet, or forcing yourself to go to bed earlier – training yourself to alter a behavior can take a lot of mental stamina. Unfortunately, the same is true for your pet. As much as we’d love to tell you that changing your dog’s habit is 10x easier, that sadly is not the case.
When it comes to your dog’s diet, there are many reasons why you may need to make a change. Maybe your dog has a new food sensitivity or allergy, maybe your pet is entering a new life stage, or maybe your veterinarian has encouraged you to change your pet’s diet to help them to gain or lose weight. While making the switch may take time, there are steps you can take to make it a seamless transition.
Read on below to learn how you can best transition your dog’s food or treats.
Make the transition gradual
When it comes to swapping out your dog’s food or treats, you’ll want to introduce the new food slowly. If you abruptly make the swap, your dog could be at risk for diarrhea, vomiting, or even a loss of appetite.
To make the transition, do so over 5-10 days where each day you slowly increase the ratio of new food to old food. Use this transition model as a start:
- 75% old food with 25% new food for three days,
- 50% old food and 50% new food for three days,
- 75% new food and 25% old food for three days,
- and then 100% new food.
Keep in mind this is only a guide, so your pet may require a longer transition (and that is completely normal)!
Monitor their nutrition
You know your dog best. That means if your pet is exhibiting a new behavior, such as being finicky or refusing to eat the new food, this may be a sign that they are not getting the nutrition they need or that you may need to slow down the transition rate or try a different food brand or base. If at any point you are unsure if your dog’s behavior is normal, consult your veterinarian.
Examine their stool
To ensure the transition is going smoothly, the best thing to pay attention to is your pet’s stool. If there are any major changes to the color or consistency, that could be an indicator of dehydration or constipation.
Mix things up
Once you’ve fully swapped out your dog’s old food or treats for a new brand, mix things up. Your dog may become bored and uninterested if mealtime is the same flavor every day. To keep your pet’s attention, opt for a variety of flavors within the same brand or try blending two parts dry food with one-part wet food. You can even elect to alter the proteins you give your dog or add broth or gravy to any dry food, which will still ensure your dog is getting the proper nutrients they need.
Changing your pet’s food routine may not be easy, but it doesn’t need to be impossible. Consult with your veterinarian to choose an appropriate diet and the best brands for your dog. Your veterinarian is the best resource and knows your dog the best so use them!
Once you work with your veterinarian to determine the best brand for YOUR dog, then you can follow these tips to make the switch successfully.