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We can probably imagine that our dog’s idea of switching food would look more like them scarfing down one bowl filled with their old food, followed by them excitedly shoving us out of the way and devouring an entire second (or third) bowl of their new food, setting off a little taste-bud fiesta of new flavors in their mouth. They’d be so proud of themselves, of course! At least for a while, until the inevitable happens… the erupting volcano butt!
Luckily for our pups (and their bums), us humans have some tips up our sleeves on how to easily switch to a new diet, helping keep their fuzzy trousers free from “mud-butt” and their tummy troubles tamed.
Why Switch Your Dog’s Food?
First, let’s take a look at a few reasons you may be considering changing up your pup’s diet:
- You want to switch to a higher quality food
- Your pup needs to gain or lose weight (de-chonkify or chonk-up)
- It’s time to change from puppy food to adult dog food
- New or existing health concerns or allergies
- They’re getting older (Shhh, we know the’ll always be a puppy… ALWAYS!)
- Breed-specific concerns
- Wanting to switch from wet to dry food
Dog Food To Consider
When considering a diet switch, how do you even know which option is best? There are a poop-ton of options nowadays when it comes to choosing a new food for your best four-legged friend. It can be pretty overwhelming sometimes, especially if your pup has specific sensitivities/dietary restrictions, or when you aren’t sure which options to even consider.
Our Wellness Advisors at BARK Eats can help make that part easy peasy, lemon squeezy! They’ll start by asking you a few questions to get the scoop on your dog’s health, background, and current diet, then get to work creating a custom plan for your pup while you kick back and enjoy a mutt-garita. After all, you have important things to do with your time, like rub some bellies and go on walkies. Let our experts take care of the hard part!
- Hip and Joint (Hip-Hip-Hooray!)
- Skin and Coat (Yo Pup’s Coat Gonna Be Nicer Than T-Swift’s Cardigan)
- Digestion and Gut Health (I Like Healthy Guts and I Cannot Lie)
Good Boys Do It Gradually—The Best Way to Switch Foods
The key to an easy food transition is gradually switching from your dog’s old food to their new diet over multiple days. It would look something like this:
- Day 1-2: 25% new diet and 75% old diet
- Day 3-4: 50% new diet and 50% old diet
- Day 5-6: 75% new diet and 25% old diet
- Day 7: 100% new diet!
If you start seeing signs of diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, or changes in appetite, you may need to slow down your transition. A longer transition over weeks instead of days can be especially important for pups with food sensitivities, gastro issues, allergies, and picky eaters. A longer transition may look like this:
- Week 1: 25% new diet and 75% old diet
- Week 2: 50% new diet and 50% old diet
- Week 3: 75% new diet and 25% old diet
- Week 4: 100% new diet!
If the issues continue, worsen (like the aforementioned volcano-butt erupting all over the lawn or carpet—whyyy do they always aim for the carpet?!) or you see signs of external skin issues like inflammation, itching, or hair loss, it’s time to talk to your vet.
- Internal gastrointestinal problems to watch for: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, change in appetite
- External problems to watch for: inflammation, itching, hair loss, rashes, hot spots
Monitor Your Dog’s Health: Become the Poop Supervisor (SuPOOPervisor?)
During the diet switch it’s important to monitor your pup’s digestive health by keeping an eye on their poo (not, like, in a weird way where you concern your neighbors), but a quick glance is all it takes. Consistency and color can help determine issues with dehydration or constipation during the switch. Slight changes will be normal, but anything drastic should be mentioned to a vet. Lucky for you, there’s gonna be a link right here for you to learn more about poo shapes and colors! It is truly your lucky day! You’re welcome!
Should My Dog Fast? Meal Fasting Dos And Don’ts
Sometimes gradually switching foods isn’t possible or may not be the best option, and that’s when you may want to consider a fast. Not like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights fast, but fasting for 24 hours from foods, kind of fast. Dogs that are already in the midst of stomach upset or allergies from one food may do better being taken off of the problem-causing food quickly. The slight pause in digestion can allow for a kind of gut reset for a quicker transition when necessary.
- DO talk to your veterinarian before having your dog begin a fast
- DO remove all food for 24 hours
- DO keep the dog treats in the cupboard for the day (no cheating, not even for the puppy eyes!)
- DO avoid heavy exercise or exertion for the day
- DO continue to provide plenty of water (H2-oh-yes!)
- DON’T do fasting with puppies, pregnant, or lactating dogs
- DON’T do fasting with dogs who have health issues such as cancer, diabetes, or are taking prescription meds
- DON’T fast for more than 24 hours