Bringing home a new dog is an exciting experience, but it’s important to remember that changing their dog food isn’t something you should rush into. While dogs may appear to have iron stomachs, the reality is that they have surprisingly sensitive tummies, and abrupt changes to their food can upset them. To ensure a successful dog food transition for your new furry friend, follow these steps:
Start with What They Know
Before bringing your new dog home, gather as much information as possible about their feeding plan from the shelter or previous owner. Find out what food they were being fed, how much, and how frequently. Ideally, the shelter should provide you with enough food for your dog’s first week. If not, make sure to pick up a small bag of that food before bringing them home.
Switch Food Gradually
While it may be tempting to change your dog’s food right away, especially if the shelter was feeding them a lower-quality option, it’s best to resist this urge. Abrupt changes to your dog’s diet could result in gastrointestinal disturbances, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. The last thing you want is for your dog to associate their new home or food with discomfort.
How gradually should you switch? According to Hill’s, a reputable pet food company, it’s recommended to take about seven days to transition. Each day, add a little more of the new food and reduce the old food. Here’s a breakdown of the transition process:
- Days 1-2: Mix 25 percent of the new food with 75 percent of the old.
- Days 3-4: Mix 50 percent of the new food with 50 percent of the old.
- Days 5-6: Mix 75 percent of the new food with 25 percent of the old.
- Day 7: Feed your dog 100 percent of their new food.
Watch & Learn Your Dog’s Reaction
As you make the transition, keep a close eye on your dog’s reaction to the new food. Look out for signs of stomach upset, and pay attention to their stool. If their stool appears runny or abnormally soft, or if your dog shows any other signs of an upset stomach, slow down the transition process and give them more time to adjust.
Identify When They’re Not Ready
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dog may not tolerate the new food. If this happens, slowly shift them back to their old food and give their tummy a break. It’s possible that the new dog food contains ingredients to which your dog has an intolerance or allergy. If you continue to have trouble changing dog food, or if their stools contain blood or an unusual color, it’s important to consult a veterinarian.
Keeping Your Dog Hydrated
During the transition, it’s crucial to ensure that your dog stays hydrated. Provide them with plenty of water, especially now. If you notice that they stop drinking or seem to be drinking an excessive amount, it could be a sign of a more complicated digestion issue with the new food. In such cases, it’s best to consult your vet to ensure their health and well-being.
How to Change Dog Food Quickly
In some situations, you may not know what your new dog’s previous food was, or it may not be available to you. In these cases, consider introducing their new food slowly by feeding them small meals every few hours. Keep an eye out for any signs of trouble in between meals. If necessary, choose an easily digestible formula to start with and gradually transition them to your preferred brand or formula.
The potential for a stomach ache and mess should be reason enough to take it slow when transitioning your dog’s food. Additionally, consider the numerous changes your new dog is already going through as they settle into their new life. Like people, dogs find comfort in the familiar. By serving them the food they know during their first few days with you, you’ll help them feel more at home in their new surroundings, which benefits both their emotional health and digestion.
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