Comprehensive Guide to Switching Kibble: How to Change Dog Food Brands Safely

How to Switch Your Dog's Food (Safely)

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to help other pet owners.

That being said, the only thing I consider myself a real expert in making mistakes. My hope is that I can spare you (and your dog) some of the headaches we’ve gone though over the years, sort of a learn from my mistakes kind of thing.

shopping cart for buying dog foodOne of the biggest sources of headache we’ve ever had was the process of discovering the issues we were having was caused by an allergic reaction to ingredients in our dog’s food. Then there was the vet visits and the switching of the food.

It’s not always as simple as just throwing a bag of something different in your shopping cart next time you’re at the supermarket.  Here’s some of the information I’ve learned along the way that will hopefully save you some of the trouble we had to deal with.

Reasons to Change Your Dog’s Food

While there may be other reasons to switch brands of dog food, these are the most common ones.

Vet Recommendation

One reason you may need to change your dog’s food would be that your dog’s vet recommended the change. Sometimes this can be because of the one or more of the reasons listed here.

The recommendation could stem from a new medical diagnosis or your vet’s opinion of a certain brand. It really varies from animal to animal and vet to vet.

Dog Allergies

A dog’s allergies to an ingredient in their dog food is one of the top reasons that you would need to change your dog’s food. This is a rather common occurrence among our four legged friends.

Symptoms

Some symptoms that could be caused from a dog’s allergic reaction to ingredients in their dog food include:anti-diarrhea for dogs

  • Excessive Scratching
  • Pink or Irritated Skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive Licking
  • Chronic Ear Infections

Food allergies in dogs are usually something that is passed down to them genetically.  The reaction is caused when their body is exposed to the thing they are allergic too.

There are over-the-counter medicines available to help combat some of the more unfortunate (and messy) reactions.

Ingredients that can Trigger Allergies

There are many ingredients that can be found in most commercial dog foods that are common triggers for dogs with allergies.

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Chicken
  • Egg

  • Soy
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Fish

Kibble for Dogs with Allergies

It’s not uncommon for a dog to suffer allergic reactions to more than one of those triggers.

Some animals are more prone to suffering from allergies, and there are different reasons that can factor into it. Things like what part of the country they are in and how they were bred can have an effect.

Some breeds are more likely than others to be allergy suffers including Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels are said the be the ones effected by allergies the most.

But that doesn’t mean dogs who have food allergies are limited to the breeds on that list.  Any breed of dog can develop allergies from food or environmental issues.

Before making a drastic change, you should consult your dog’s vet, which brings us to our next reason for switching brands of dog food.

Dog’s Age

As a puppy, your pet would need specific nutrients and vitamins, and they will also need more calories and proteins.  Once your puppy starts to get older, the dog’s nutritional needs change.

Your vet may recommend that you switch your puppy’s food so it can get the nutrition it needs for its next stage in life.

If you’re planning to breed your dog, she might need specific ingredients in her diet to help with fertility and milk production.

As your dog transitions into its older stage of life, your veterinarian will likely recommend that you switch to yet another food that will give them what they need as your dog’s body and bones begin aging.

Older dogs usually need fewer calories so that they don’t become overweight. It’s sometimes harder for them to move around as much as they did in their younger years.  Lord know I can relate to that one.

Older dogs may also need more fiber in their diet so that they don’t suffer from blockage or other intestinal issues.  They can also benefit from supplements specific to their stage of life like antioxidants and other ingredients that to help with things such as joint support.

Dog Food Designed For Weight LossUnderweight or Overweight Dog

Your vet can help keep an eye on your dog’s weight and health to make sure that it doesn’t need a specific type of food to thrive.

There are dog foods specifically designed to help an underweight dog add a few pounds as well as varieties to help your paunchy pooch get back to a health weight.

Personal Preference

Another reason you might change your dog’s food is simply because you want to.

Sometimes people are looking for a more affordable brand.  Maybe you’ve got multiple breeds at multiple life stages (guilty) and want to purchase a brand that all your pets can eat and benefit from.

Thanks to the internet, people are able to get info more easily than ever. Lots of responsible pet owners have taken it upon themselves to research the ingredients found in their dog’s food, and they’ve decided to make the switch.

Safely to Changing Brands of Dog Food

how to change your dog's foodSo how do you safely change the food your dog eats? Gradually.

Once you’ve got your recommendation or done your research to find a new brand of dog food with the ingredients your dog needs, you can start the switch.  Another option is to make your own dog food.

Expect the process of swapping dog food brands to take about seven days. If your dog has extreme sensitivities when eating, it may take a little longer to transition them.

It’s also a good idea to start with small bags of dog food. If your dog has an adverse reaction, you won’t waste a as much money going through the process of trying out different brands.

Steps to Switching Dog Food Brands Safely

  • To introduce a new dog food the right way, you’ll want to mix the old and new brands together. For the first couple of days, you’ll want to go with a ration of 25% old to 75% new.
  • After a few days, transition to a half and half mix of your old brand with your new one.
  • The last couple of days, you should use 75% of the new brand of dog food and 25% of the old brand.
  • After that seven day process, you can begin feeding them exclusively the new brand.

What to Watch For When Switching Dog Food Brands

Watch your dog closely while you are in the process of changing brands of dog food it make sure they don’t have a reaction.

  • Dog Bowl To Slow Down Fast EatersAn important aspect is to ensure your dog actually likes the new brand. Are they refusing to eat part of all of their meal? A Are they picking through the pieces and leaving the new kibble in the bowl?
  • Are they eating their food too fast? They actually make dog bowls designed to make your pet eat slower that can help with this problem.
  • If vomiting occurs, that’s a pretty clear sign something is going wrong and it’s time to call the vet.
  • Another thing to keep an eye on is your dog’s stool. If it is starting to appear loose or runny, you can try to slow down on the changing of the brands so he can adjust to the new food more easily. Start with 10% instead of 25%, and spread it out over a longer time period than seven days.
  • Make sure that your dog gets plenty of water to help aid in the digestion. If your dog’s thirst seems excessive or if he isn’t drinking much at all, that could indicate problems your pet is having digesting the new brand of dog food.
  • Even if the transition to a new brand of dog food seems to go well, keep an eye out for weight loss or gain. Contact your vet if you notice any significant changes.

Family First

I love my dogs, and I want do to whatever I can to make sure they are happy and healthy.

I know it can sound funny to talk about watching the diet of an animal who eats grass or shoes or worse. You know exactly what I’m talking about. But I know firsthand the kinds of issues that a dog’s diet can cause.

While it’s common for someone to change brands of their dog’s food, you have to watch for adverse reactions.

Be careful and attentive with your dogs. They are part of your family.

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About the author

Jennifer Marshall

Jennifer is the proud pet parent of three plucky pound puppy pals. She also loves alliteration. When she's not cheering on her beloved Vikings, you can usually find her at the dog park or on the back porch unsuccessfully playing fetch with her mutts. You can follow her on Pinterest