Changing Dog Food

When and How you Should Consider Changing Dog Food

changing dog foodSome pet parents make the common mistake of keeping their pet on the same pet food for the duration of their life.  Doing so may present problems for your pet.  Think about it.  Does a baby eat baby food for their entire life? There are a few things you may want to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to change out your pet’s food.

When should I consider changing my dog’s diet?

Food Allergies

It’s not uncommon for dogs to develop food allergies.  In fact, Beef, dairy, wheat and chicken are often at the source of food allergies in dogs.  Allergies in dogs can present themselves in more ways than one.  If you notice your dog experiencing itchy skin or ears, and/or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to consider switching out his dog food.  At the very least, you will want to have  conversation with your vet about treating the allergy, and then trying to figure out if the allergy correlates with his food or not. Unfortunately, this process is often trial and error based and may require much patience on your part.

Stage of Life

Dogs will navigate their way through four stages of life.  Stage one begins when the puppy is born.  This stage, puppyhood, may last anywhere from six months to almost eighteen months.  The next stage is adolescence.  Adolescence in dogs begins when puppyhood ends and last until the dog enters adulthood, which can be anywhere from one to three years after the dog is born. The final stage of life for a dog is senior status. During each stage of your dog’s life, his dietary needs will change.  As a puppy, your dog will need a lot of protein because he is growing by leaps and bounds.  He is also expending a lot of energy during this phase of his life. Similarly, a dog approaching the sunset of his life will need less protein because he’s expending less energy. However, he will need other supplements that a puppy won’t necessary need such as glucosamine, which will help reduce stiffness and pain associated with arthritis. 

Other Visible Signs

Often times, dogs will exhibit visible signs that they’re not taking in a proper diet.  Some sings may include a dry or flaky coat that lacks the shine it once had or even weigh gain or weigh loss.  While other health conditions or behaviors could also contribute to these visible signs, it is always advisable to consider how diet and the intake of nutrients may be impacting your dog’s overall health. 

How should I change my dog’s diet?

Always refrain from suddenly changing your dog’s diet.  Any diet change should always be a gradual change over a week’s time or longer.  Start by slowly replacing a portion of your dog’s old food with the new food.  For example, on day one you might give your dog 8o percent of the old food and 20 percent of the new food and then on day two give him a 60/40 ratio.  Each subsequent day you will increase the new food by 20 percent and decrease the old food by 20 percent. See the pattern?

If you are switching your dog’s diet due to allergy concerns, you must be strict and patient.  By strict, I mean your dog should not eat any other dog treats or table scraps.  This will help you narrow down what your dog is allergic to.  Also, it is recommended to wait 12 weeks before deciding if you need to change your dog’s diet again. It literally takes that long to see if the new diet plan is working for or against your dog. 

As you can see, switching your dog’s food is a little more involved than just running to the store and buying a new bag of food.  Allergies and stage of life should always be carefully considered.  It’s also advisable to work in consult with your veterinarian as you navigate through this process, especially if you need to alter your dog’s diet do to allergies or illness. 

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