How should I transition my pet from the current diet?
Owners can find themselves in the position of having to switch dog foods for any number of reasons. Maybe your dog has been diagnosed with a dietary responsive disease. Perhaps it’s time to switch from puppy to adult food or from adult to mature food. Or maybe you’ve simply decided that your dog’s current diet isn’t the best choice for him anymore.
Whatever the reason for the change, owners commonly ask how to switch dog food while ensuring their dog will be receptive to it. The pat answer that you’ll often hear is “gradually,” but this can mean different things to different people and it may not always be the ideal way to go.
Why does it matter what method I use to change my dog’s diet? Well, sometimes it doesn’t. If you have a dog with an iron stomach, you can probably get away with any method you want. After all, in comparison to some of the things these dogs eat with no ill-effects, moving from Brand A to Brand B, or a switch from a beef-based to a chicken-based diet is relatively benign.
But for the rest of you out there who are either uncertain of the nature of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract or, like me, know you have a dog that’s just looking for an excuse to develop diarrhea (or lose its appetite, vomit, etc.), here’s my take on the best way to change dog food under a couple of different scenarios.
We recommend at least a 7-day transition before you begin feeding the new food exclusively. Start by mixing 75% of the old diet with 25% of the new diet on Day 1 and Day 2. On Day 3 and Day 4, mix 50% of the old diet with 50% of the new diet. On Day 5 and Day 6, mix 25% of the old diet with 75% of the new diet. On the 7th day, you can feed the new food exclusively. This allows your pet’s digestive system to smoothly adapt to the new food.
Remember these tips when switching your dog’s food:
- Puppies become adults at 12 months of age and should transition to an adult dog food to ensure they are receiving proper nutrient levels for adult dogs.
- Large breed puppies and small breed puppies should switch to a large breed or small breed adult dog food to ensure that their special needs are met.
- For small and medium size dogs who are older, about the age of 7, they should transition to a mature adult or senior dog food that ensures that they are receiving the appropriate level of nutrients for that older lifestage.
- For large breed dogs that are around 5 years of age, their food should switch to a mature adult or senior large breed dog food so that their special nutrient requirements are met.
- Pregnant or nursing dogs need energy-dense foods with increased calcium content so be sure to transition them during this special time to a puppy food. However, during pregnancy or nursing, large breed dogs should be switched to a regular puppy food.
- If your veterinarian has recommended a therapeutic dog food for a specific health condition, please be sure to discuss transitioning his dog food in detail. There could be some special considerations and suggestions to ensure success.