Whether changing your dog’s diet for health reasons or because they have stopped eating their current food, it is essential to make the switch gradual. Changing food overnight can shock a dog’s digestive system, leaving him bloated and experiencing pain and diarrhoea.
Reasons to switch
A bowl half full
The most common reason people look to switch their dog’s food is that their dog has simply ‘gone off’ their current food and is no longer eating it. If you have persevered with an old food and are still finding that you are throwing away more than he is eating – it may be time to switch.
Symptoms of canine food allergies include vomiting and diarrhoea, skin infections and chronic itching. However, food allergy’s in dogs are rare. If your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms, talk to your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet – you may find that their symptoms are not connected to their diet at all.
If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease, your vet will most likely recommend a dietary change.
Careful food management will help to controls one of the above conditions, acting as a medicine. For example, foods with a lower glycemic index are digested, absorbed, and metabolised slower, causing a lower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels. Good nutrition can also slow down the progression of kidney disease.
The right diet can also support heart disease, liver problems and vitamin deficiency. In the case of any diagnosed disease, pet owners should follow the advice of their vet.
A change in activity levels
A shift in the seasons can spell significant changes in your dog’s exercise levels. In turn, this shift will affect the amount of food he requires and will need a calculated adjustment to match his energy outputs.
Many working dogs will vary in activity levels throughout the year. In the current lockdown, even those who should be busy right now may be finding themselves more rested than usual due to shoots, competitions and trails being cancelled, to name a few.
How to change your dog’s diet
With careful planning, you can successfully transition your dog to a new food within two weeks. Take it slowly to avoid a host of digestive discomforts. And, in the event of an illness or allergy – always follow the instructions of your vet.
Be sure to refer to feeding tables on the new dog food packaging as feeding amounts can vary between feeds and for specific breeds. If you are changing your dog’s diet to treat a weight problem, this is especially important. Weigh your dog regularly and, in turn, weigh out the exact amount of food in accordance with the brand’s feeding guidelines.
Day 1-3: Introduce a small quantity of the new food. This can be at any time during the day but for the first few days, keep his supper the same as usual to keep his stomach settled last thing. This gradual introduction will help get his palette used to the new flavours and hopefully leave him wanting more.
Day 4-10: Begin to reduce the quantity of current food and simultaneously increase the volume of new food. Serve the two as one meal; switching too quickly can result in an upset digestive system.
Day 10-14: By week two, the old food should be almost a distant memory, and by day fourteen, he’ll be eating the new food only.
Transitioning in this gradual pattern will alleviate any stress on your pet’s stomach while getting him used to a new flavour and texture. It is also important to note that you’ll need to adjust the feeding quantities accordingly if you give your dog treats. This may be most relevant to those currently training their working dogs.
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