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The Ultimate Guide on How to Switch Dog Food

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Switching Dog Food too Fast

Learning how to switch dog food is important considering that one of the most common causes of upset stomach in dogs occurs when switching dog food too fast. If your dog is vomiting, gassy or has diarrhea after you started a new food, most likely that's the culprit. Dietary changes should always be done gradually over the course of several days. Most bags of dog food have guidelines explaining how to switch dog foods displayed somewhere on the bag. It may be in small print under the feeding instructions. If you tossed or lost the bag, following is a guide on how to switch dog food gradually. 

Why Dogs Get Sick From Switching Dog Food 

If your dog got sick shortly after switching dog food, it's important to evaluate what may be causing the upset stomach. It is easy to blame the new dog food for being a bad batch of perhaps not agreeing with the dog's stomach, but one of the most common reasons is switching too fast. 

Stomach upset in dogs is notoriously common when dogs are fed a food they don't usually get or a new type of treats. Why does this happen though?Why do dogs get sick from switching dog food? Turns out, the problem stems from an issue with the flora that lives in your dog's digestive tract.

A sudden change in diet disrupts the delicate balance of bacteria living in the gut and responsible for digesting foods. This disruption therefore leads to digestive issues. What should you do if your dog gets sick after switching foods? And most of all, how can you ascertain whether the digestive upset is due to switching dog food too fast?

There are several things you can do to better evaluate the situation. Sometimes, you must on your investigative hat and keep in mind certain predisposing factors. Most importantly though, if your dog is sick with lots of vomiting and diarrhea or your dog is acting lethargic, please play it safe and see your vet. Following are a few guidelines of sorting through various causes of dogs getting sick when starting a new food. 

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Ensure it's the Food

Sometimes, it could happen than an owner believes it's the new dog food, but then they forget that their dog got into a greasy pan of leftover bacon and licked the oil and gobbled up some bacon, or it could be the dog was left all day outdoors unsupervised and he could have gotten into something toxic.

Unless, you are absolutely sure your dog didn't eat anything different other than eat the new food, most likely the abrupt change is the culprit for his recent digestive problem. If you're in doubt, or if the symptoms seem more on the severe side, your best bet is to see your vet.

Rule Out Recalls

If your dog gets very sick after feeding a new food or treat, it's always a good idea to check if there were any recent recalls. Sadly, recalls have significantly increased over the years. It doesn't hurt to call the store or the manufacturing company just to check if there are others dog owners reporting the same problems.

The Food and Drug Administration has an updated website where they post many updated pet food recalls. You can visit it here: FDA pet food recalls. In most cases though, mild digestive upset is simply due to the stomach reacting to something it's not familiar with as already discussed above.

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Fast and Bland Diet

If you can ascertain that the recent diet change is the main culprit and there are no recent recalls, you can give your dog's gut some rest by fasting and starting a bland diet following the instructions found in this article: dog upset stomach home remedies.

After 3 to 5 days on this diet, the dog's new food can be fed again, but this time gradually, by mixing it with the bland diet. If the dog gets sick on the bland diet or develops again vomiting and diarrhea despite gradual introductions of the new food, it's important to rule out other underlying causes or determine if perhaps the new food simply doesn't agree with his stomach. See your vet for help.

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Guide on How to Switch Dog Foods

For future reference, here is a helpful guide on how to switch dog food correctly to minimize the chances for digestive problems. Generally, the process should take about 7 to 10 days, but can be varied slightly based on how the dog does or if there are any special needs.

If your dog develops digestive issues at any time, this could be a sign that the new food should be increased slower. If problems recur though, it may be indicative of an underlying problem that needs addressed by your vet. See our articles on several possible underlying causes for recurrent digestive issues in dogs.

  • Day 1: 75 percent old food, 25 percent new food
  • Day 2: 75 percent old food, 25 percent new food
  • Day 3: 75 percent old food, 25 percent new food
  • Day 4: 50 percent old food, 50 percent new food
  • Day 5: 50 percent old food, 50 percent new food
  • Day 6: 50 percent old food, 50 percent new food
  • Day 7: 25 percent old food, 75 percent new food
  • Day 8: 25 percent old food, 75 percent new food
  • Day 9: 25 percent old food,75 percent new food
  • Day 10: 100 percent new food
How to Switch Dog Foods

Changing Your Dog's Food Faster

In some cases, you may not have much time to make the switch slow and gradual as in the case with recent recalls. In such a case, there are a few precautionary measures you can take to help minimize the chances for digestive upset. Following are some tips to help you make a change

Does it Ring a Bell?

A good idea is to look for a dog food that's as similar as possible to the former diet. Look for similar ingredients. For instance, if your dog was on a grain-free chicken diet, look for another food offering chicken and no grains. You don't necessarily need to find a food with the same exact ingredients, but if you find one that has at least the same first ingredients, you may be better off than a dog food with totally different meat sources and containing grains.

Pamper the Gut

If your dog is prone to digestive issues, you can choose a dog food that's easy to digest. Many kennel owners feed their guest dogs easy-to-digest foods so they are less likely to get digestive upset from the abrupt diet change. After ward, you can always add in a new food that's less digestible over the course of several days. Consult with your vet for a highly-digestible food and consider adding probiotics to help maintain healthy flora in the gut.

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