Dog Food Transition Guide

 

Date: February 28th, 2016

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While you may think that your dog can eat anything, a sudden change in a dog's primary diet can lead to digestive and eating problems. Read on for a guide to changing your dog's diet.

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Dog Eating

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Dog's digestive systems are much more sensitive than humans – unlike people, dogs can't eat a variety of foods in a single day and not have any digestive upset.

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On average, most dogs need a 6-7 day transition period when switching to a new formula. Anything quicker will likely result in your pet becoming ill and leaving messes behind for you to cleanup. In certain instances the length of transition may be greater. For example, if switching from a kibble that is high in grain and corn, such as Science Diet, to a grain-free food such as Taste of the Wild, the vast difference in ingredients may cause the transition period to be longer.

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Listed below is a transition chart provided by Nutro:

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What would happen if the change wasn't gradual?

Stomach cramps, indigestion, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea and refusing to eat can call result from too rapid of a switch to a new food.

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Tips

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Don't give up on the new food too soon - Giving into your dog's refusal will only reinforce that behavior and make it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change in the future.

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Limit the amount of treats or table scraps given to your dog during the first few days of the transition.

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Routine – Feeding at the same time and place every day can help establish a pattern.

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Add Water – When switching from a moist food to a dry food, mix in a little warm water. It may take a little bit longer for dogs to grow accustomed to dry food after eating moist food only. Be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage.

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When making a change, keep your dog's life stage in mind.

  • 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.
  • Small and medium size dogs should transition to a mature adult or senior dog food at the age of 7. 
  • 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, not a large breed puppy food.


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