How to Switch Dog Food Without Causing Digestion Problems

Pet food

To our dogs, we are the center of their world, where all good things, including food, come from. Learning how to switch dog food is essential to know, just in the case that we need to make a change their diet.

Many dog owners may choose to keep their dogs on the same food throughout their lives. Though most veterinarians recommend this, not everyone agrees that this is the best way.

Some pet experts now recommend rotation feeding, or changing food every few months. The idea behind rotation feeding is that it gives dogs more nutritional variety.

It can also alleviate possible boredom! After all, would YOU want to eat the same food day after day?

Whatever the reason, you should never abruptly change your dog’s food as this can cause stomach upset. You can help lessen the shock to your dog’s system by learning how to switch dog food the right way.

How to Switch Dog Food: What You Need to Know

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Learning how to switch dog food is more than just switching out one type of food for another. To successfully change food takes time and effort to put in the research.


Give it time

Changing your dog’s food suddenly is never recommended. If possible, budget at least a week, if not longer, to gradually change your dog’s diet.


That gradual change over allows your dog to get used to the taste of the food. It also allows their digestive tract to adjust.


Listen to your dog

Like humans, dogs have likes and dislikes. They may not always like what’s good for them, but sometimes, they may be trying to tell you something with their actions.


After you switch the food, pay close attention to how your dog is reacting. You know your dog best and can best judge how much they like (or don’t like) their new food.

Reasons to Switch Dog Food

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There are a variety of reasons that you may want to switch your dog’s food.


Canine food snob

For many dogs, the surest way into their heart is through their stomach. Just one bite of a tasty morsel and you have an instant best friend.


But then there’s your dog. Miss Picky McPicky Pants snubs most everything you give her.


Picky eaters are hard to please, and you may find yourself changing dog food to help appease them.


If you know you have a picky eater, be sure to pick a food that contains an ingredient that you know for sure that they like.


Food intolerance and allergies

Like humans, dogs can have food intolerances and allergies. Intolerance and allergies are slightly different. Allergies are an immune response to a food trigger. Intolerances are not immune-related. However, these are still physical responses to a food trigger.


If you notice that your dog scratches frequently, has poor stool consistency, or otherwise seems sick, they may have a food intolerance or allergy.


If you are switching your dog’s food due to suspected intolerance or allergies, you need to know how to switch dog food for best results. You also need to know how to watch for signs that the change is working.


It may take anywhere between two to three months to be sure whether or not the diet change worked. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for assistance.


Cost

Keeping your pooch well-fed can be an ongoing battle with your wallet. The best rule of thumb is always to buy the best food you can afford.


The hard truth is that sometimes, you may not always be able to afford your dog’s preferred food. When that happens, you may need to switch between menus, depending on what your budget allows.

When puppy has an upset tummy

Though you may do your best to learn how to switch dog food, there still may be problems. Learn to recognize the signs when a food switch isn’t going so well and how to treat it.


Signs of an upset tummy

When you switch your dog’s food, be on the lookout for signs of digestive problems. These include vomiting, loose stools, and increased gas.


Home remedies

Keep plenty of fresh, cold water on hand for your dog to drink. Dehydration can cause their tummies to get upset.


If loose stools are the problem, try adding a spoonful of canned, mashed pumpkin to their food. Be sure to get the pure mashed pumpkin with no additives rather than canned pumpkin pie filling.


Another favorite home remedy for upset dog stomach is baby food. Strange as it may sound, baby food is highly digestible and tasty to most dogs.


If you feed your dog baby food to help settle their stomach, make sure that it has no onion or garlic in the ingredients list.


When to call a vet

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If you are worried at all about your dog’s health as they adjust to their new food, call your vet as soon as possible.


You should call your vet immediately if your dog is frequently vomiting, has a fever, or is vomiting blood.


Also, if your dog has diarrhea for more than 24 hours or has blood or mucus in their stool, call for an appointment as soon as possible.

How to Switch Dog Food: Dry and Wet Food

Switching between foods is actually easy, if not always smooth, process. Whether you are switching between flavor varieties of the same brand or switching brands completely, you will need to do a slow switch to help lessen the chance of stomach upset.


These are the steps you need to take to switch between different commercially prepared dry and wet dog foods. That process works the same for switching between dry foods or wet foods or changing from wet to dry and vice versa. Keep in mind that this process may take at least a week.


The only notable difference is when changing from wet food to dry. In this instance, your furry friend may find themselves with a bit of constipation. This is from the lessened amount of liquid in their food.


Make sure they have plenty of water as we mentioned before and they should be just fine.


Research different foods

While researching how to switch dog food, look at various food types. The different food types you can change to will vary on the reason you are switching.


If you are switching foods due to a suspected intolerance or allergy, avoid foods that contain common allergens. These include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, and soy.


To make your search easier, look for foods labeled “Limited Ingredient” as these tend to have fewer ingredients overall.


Just go slow

Always introduce the new food slowly, mixing the old food and the new food. This allows your dog to get used to the taste of the new food while their digestive system compensates for the new food.


On the first day, mix 10 percent new food with 90 percent old food. Over the next week or so, up the percentage of new food by about 10 percent per day.


Watch and wait

Once you begin transitioning their food, watch your dog for any signs of stomach upset. If your pup shows that they are tolerating the food, with minimal symptoms of stomach upset, continue to increase the percentage of new food.


However, if your pup shows that they are not tolerating the new food, try stepping back a percentage for their next feeding. You may also try to give them a home remedy for a meal or two to see if that helps ease the transition.


Full transition

Once your dog shows that they are tolerating the new food, you should be able to continue to increase the amount of new food you are feeding. Eventually, 100-percent of their bowl should contain their new diet.


Once that’s completed, congratulations! You have successfully switched your dog’s food!

How to Switch Dog Food: Transitioning from Kibble to a Raw Diet

Raw feeding is a feeding practice eschews processed, cooked dog food in favor of a diet based on uncooked meats. While still somewhat controversial, proponents claim that it makes their dogs healthier and happier.


Switching from kibble to raw dog food is an undertaking that requires a fair amount of research on your part. Always check with your veterinarian to see if this change will be beneficial for your dog.

Research different raw feeding styles

Before diving in, you need to research raw feeding styles. The type of style you choose will help determine how to switch dog food from kibble to raw in the best way possible.


Prey or BARF?

There are two main types of raw feeding styles: Prey Model Raw Diet (PMR) and Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF).


Prey Model Raw focuses on a high percentage of muscle meat as well as bones and organs. It does not contain any vegetation.


Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods diet uses a mix of raw muscle meat, bones, organs as well as fruits and vegetables.


Run the calculations

Whichever model you choose, you need to calculate the amount of food you will need to feed. Use a calculator like the one on Perfectly Rawsome or consult your veterinarian for more information.

Total switch

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Unlike switching between kibble, switching from kibble to raw is done all at once. One day your dog will eat their old kibble and the next day, you will begin with the complete raw diet.


Even though the switch from kibble to raw is instantaneous, you still need to introduce raw meats slowly to give them time for their stomachs to get used to it.


New but bland

Perfectly Rawsome recommends beginning with raw white meats for the first week. Chicken is a great, affordable starter protein. Other options include turkey, rabbit, and Cornish game hen.


You may need to give your dog up to two weeks to get them used to the new food regime. Watch your dog’s stools and make sure they are firm and regular. This shows that they are tolerating their new bland diet well.


If your dog’s stool is loose for more than a day or two, remove any excess fat on the meat, like skin. Also, add more bone to your offerings which should also help firm up their stools.


Red raw

Once your dog shows they are tolerating their new raw diet well, you can start introducing new types of meat. The next phase is introducing red meats, like pork, lamb, and goat.


Again, watch your dog’s stool, which may turn darker due to the addition of red meat. But so long as the stools are firm and regular, your dog is doing fine!


Offal-ly delicious

Offal may be awful to some humans, but dogs do love it! Organ meat is very rich so be sure you are not feeding them too much as this can cause stomach upset.


As always, watch your dog’s stool for any signs of issues and adjust your feedings accordingly.

Belly Rubs

Whether you choose to switch your dog’s food for nutrition or cost, how you make that switch matters. Researching your choices and going slow is a sure recipe for success.

While the chances are that your dog is going to love whatever you give them, making the switch as painless as possible is good for both you and your dog.

We hope you found this helpful. If you’re thinking about switching your dog’s food, tell us what you’re planning on switching to in the comments!

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