Rest assured. Transitioning dog food is not rocket science. There are however a few key things to keep in mind, which begin with good reason. A change in dog food may be encouraged by awareness of a higher quality diet, lifestyle convenience, food recall (boo!), weight loss, or even development of food allergies. No matter the reason, it is important to follow this recommended process or something similar.
- GATHER INFORMATION
It is always best to connect with your veterinarian, especially if it is a health-related transition. It is also important to understand the main ingredients, features and benefits of the food and insight of the food manufacturing process.
Gradual transition will reduce the stress and change dog's system and digestive tract. Commit to a minimum of four days but consider stretching it over a longer period of time when possible. Members of Team SitStay.com transition for one full week (thank you smart phone calendar).
- BUST OUT THE MEASURING CUP
Keep the old food. Start off with three quarters of the old food and one quarter of the new food. Repeat for 2-3 days. Graduate the proportion to half old food and half new food for 2-3 days. Getting closer. Every dog is different, by now you have a good inclination of your dog's sensitivity to the change. Increase to three quarters of the new food and one quarter old food for a few days. The seventh day (if you committed to a week transition) you can feed with totally new food.
- BE OBSERVANT
Different breeds and "pawsonalities" may require a bit more time to adjust to the new food. Be sure to watch the dog food bowl, poops (yep, peek at the poop) and your dog's behavior. You know that fella better than anyone; if you see anything out of the norm, connect with your vet.
- DON'T MAKE IT A HABIT
Transitioning dog food comes with a bit of negativity. We don't believe it is negative if you are doing it for good reason. Imagine me shaking my finger at you while you are reading this ... don't make it a habit.
- KNOW THE RISKS
A constant mix of food in your dog's diet (this also includes table scraps - yes, my hands were covering my mouth when I typed that!) greatly increases the risk of having chronic indigestion, finicky eating habits or chronic diarrhea. And, abruptly change your dog's diet might lead to the complications of stomach cramps, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
In general, it is best to use common sense, your instincts and that big ol' dumb heart that loves your fella more than he'll ever know!