A change of food in the dog can have many reasons: Food intolerance, health problems, supply difficulties, a favorable price or the food change to BARF. In order for your dog to tolerate the new food well, you should pay attention to several points. Important in any case to know that a change of feed takes time.
When should you change your dog’s food?
The change of food in your dog may even be necessary in various cases. These include food intolerances or allergies that announce themselves through gastrointestinal problems, scratching and licking or skin problems.
A change of diet is also recommended for dogs that are overweight. Instead of simply reducing the amount of food you’re used to, switch to a special diet food. This way your dog gets all the important nutrients and vitamins and has enough food in the bowl, but consumes fewer calories per meal.
Finally, age or chronic diseases may be the reason for a necessary change of feed. Dogs with leishmaniasis or kidney disease require low purine food.
Change of the form of nutrition
If you want to feed your dog more naturally in the future, BARFing as a dog food is a possibility. Here, too, the feed composition must be gradually changed. In this way, your dog’s digestive system gradually gets used to the changed composition of the food.
A change of food to a new food, a different type of food or from wet to dry food should also be done by a gradual change of food. So is the age-related change in diet. As your dog grows out of puppyhood, the switch from junior to adult food is usually in order. Senior foods provide seniors with a special mix of nutrients that keep them healthy and fit longer.
How long does it take a dog to get used to new food?
This is very individual. There are dogs that tolerate the sudden change from one dog food to another without any problems. Much more often, immediate feed changes create digestive problems. Diarrhea or constipation occurs. Vomiting or stomach problems may also occur.
To avoid these symptoms, you should allow a period of 10 to 14 days or even longer for the period of transition from one dog food to another. During this time, most dogs adapt easily to the new food and diet. If this is not the case, your dog probably can’t tolerate the new dog food and you should rule out food allergies or intolerances by hypoallergenic dog food.
Feed conversion “step by step” – what does it mean?
The best way to change the dog’s diet is to take it step by step. That is, you replace a larger portion of your dog’s food ration with the new food every day. This is especially easy if you only change the brand of dry food and the amount of the new food remains the same.
Change dry food brand
If you change your dog to a new dry food, i.e. you only change the type of food, you proceed step by step: every day you add a little more of the new food and less of the previous dry food. 10% increments are recommended. For example, if your dog receives 150 grams of food per day, he will receive 10% more each day, as 15 grams of the new food. You subtract this amount from the old feed for this purpose. The changeover then looks like this:
|Day||old food||new chuck|
|0||150 gram||0 Gram|
|1||135 gram||15 gram|
|2||120 gram||30 gram|
|3||105 Gram||45 Gram|
|4||90 Gram||60 gram|
|5||75 Gram||75 Gram|
|6||60 gram||90 Gram|
|7||45 Gram||105 Gram|
|8||30 gram||120 gram|
|9||15 gram||135 gram|
|10||0 Gram||150 gram|
If the recommended feed quantities differ for the old and new dry feed types, the principle remains the same. Only you have to calculate a little for the feed change. You then replace 10% of the old food amount with 10% of the recommended total amount of the new food. If you want to change the type of wet food, proceed in the same way.
What should be considered when switching to a different type of feed?
When changing to a different type of feed, you must consider the changed feed composition. The amounts of wet and dry food or BARF differ from each other. This is due to the different water content and the associated nutrient density. For the change of dog food you can first of all follow the quantity recommendations of the manufacturers.
However, these recommendations are quite rough and at most differentiate between age and activity level. Once you have successfully replaced the old food with new food, it’s up to you as the dog owner to observe whether your dog gains or loses weight. Depending on this, you can adjust the feed amount up or down.
Change of feed from dry to wet food
A change of food from dry to wet food is useful if your dog drinks little or has poorer teeth due to age. If, despite changing foods, he lacks variety and the dry food simply no longer tastes good, a change of food may also be indicated.
This is where you go similar to switching from one brand of dry food to another. However, quantities and time periods differ to be gentle on your four-legged friend’s gastrointestinal tract.
When changing food from dry to wet, slowly decrease the amount of dry food while increasing the amount of wet food. If your dog has a rather insensitive stomach, you can swap a quarter of the dry food for the corresponding amount of wet food at a time and feed this mixture for three to four days.
Dogs with very sensitive digestion, this pace may already be too fast. Some dogs also completely refuse the new food mixture. Then decrease the pace and the amount and change the feed by the spoonful. This will take longer, but you and your dog won’t have to deal with diarrhea or other side effects of the food change.
Change feed wet food to dry food
While the changeover from dry to wet food is usually quite straightforward, the reverse is often more complicated. One difficulty can be the amount of drinking. Dogs fed wet food often drink quite little due to the high water content in the food. With dry food, the requirement is significantly higher, but not every dog automatically drinks more.
To ensure that your dog absorbs enough fluids from the start, even when switching to dry food, you can soak the dry food. This will also prevent your dog from gobbling his new dog food too much. Older dogs with bad teeth can eat and digest the soaked food more easily.
Feed conversion to BARF
You want to completely change the dog diet? Your dog should be switched from wet or dry food to BARF, the organic species-appropriate raw meat feeding? Then there are two options:
- Many dogs tolerate the direct change excellent and without major problems.
- Some struggle with the side effects already mentioned above. Then you can also proceed gradually here and carry out the food change gradually.
Since BARFing depends on the right composition of the food rations, you should seek a nutritionist. It calculates the perfect composition for your dog and also accompanies you through the period of change. Changing your diet to BARF feeding can be for good reasons, but requires experience to feed your dog according to his needs.
Change of food for the puppy
Until about 12 months of age, puppies have an increased need for nutrients. If the development is largely completed, you can switch from dog food for puppies to food for adult dogs (adult food). The following applies: Smaller dogs can already be switched at about 9 months, with larger breeds the time slips back to 20 months. Here, too, you are needed as a dog owner who knows his dog very well.
You should play it safe and implement the food change in puppies rather too slowly than too fast. Here, too, the step-by-step plan is suitable. For example, you can start giving the new food as a reward when switching to dry food. A big advantage of this variant is that you can quickly determine whether your dog likes the food at all.
Feed conversion: what problem can occur?
If the food change causes problems for your dog, it is mainly the gastrointestinal tract that is affected. In most cases, there is at least a change in the consistency of the feces. It becomes softer or firmer, the frequency of defecation changes, or the output changes color. If you go too fast, you may experience diarrhea, constipation or bloating.
The above symptoms are not uncommon with a change of diet, because the digestive system needs some time to adjust to the new dog food. However, it should not take more than 14 days for everything to return to normal. Otherwise, your dog may not tolerate the new food in general. Then you should clarify intolerances to components of the food to avoid a disease.
Also changing may be the frequency of urination, especially if you switch from wet to dry food and your dog is drinking significantly more. However, this usually settles down again after a while.
If your dog vomits several times or loses a lot of weight, it is better to stop the food change. Negative changes in the skin and coat, itching or ear infections may also indicate intolerance.
Feed change: After the change
If you have changed your dog’s food for health reasons, you should notice a significant improvement after the change. Symptoms disappear, well-being and fitness increase. Sometimes a pleasant side effect: your dog’s output is reduced in quantity and frequency.
If your dog reacts with more defecation after the food change or if you notice any other health symptoms, you have made the wrong choice. Then you should talk to your vet or a nutritionist and start looking again for the perfect food for your dog.
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