Your canine may be completely happy with his dog food but this does not mean it’s the best source of sustenance for him. As your dog develops, his nutritional requirements change. Plus, there are other factors that will demand a switch in your dog’s food. These are:
- Health concerns because of aging. Getting older can bring about illnesses that a change in diet helps control.
- Weight issues may also occur especially if you have decided to neuter or spay your pup.
- Changes in activities; for example, you have become more active and you have chosen your four-legged buddy to be your constant workout partner. This can alter your dog’s appetite and nutritional needs.
All of those are solid grounds for changing your dog’s food. However, as good as the switch may be for your dog’s health, it may not instantly yield favorable results. This is because you cannot expect your furry best friend to naturally adapt to going cold turkey on its favorite regular meal. Some of the adverse effects of a dog food switch are:
- Disinterest in food
These effects occur because an abrupt change in diet with new dog food disrupts the healthy balance of bacteria residing in your canine’s gut.
So, how should you go about this important transition for your pet? Here are some tips:
Tip #1: Set aside 10 days for the process.
Establishing this time period for the transition is what normally works, vets say. You can break these 10 days down easily in introducing your dog’s new food. You can follow this schedule:
- Days 1, 2 and 3 – Add 25 percent of the new dog food to what your dog normally has.
- Days 4, 5 and 6 – Increase the amount of new dog food added to the old one to 50 percent.
- Days 7, 8 and 9 – Use 75 percent of the new dog food for your canine’s meals and, by this time, he will already be used to the flavor and texture of his new and better-for-his-health source of sustenance.
- Day 10 – Serve 100 percent of the new dog food.
By carrying out the transition in this manner, you do not only make the change less disconcerting for your pup, but you will also get to observe how the new dog food affects your pet’s behavior and health.
Tip #2: Maintain a familiar “meal setting” for your dog.
The idea here is you want your dog to feel like nothing much is changing. You do not want to alert your dog about anything new because it is stressful and your pup can become wary of his meals. It’s possible that he will turn away from his food once he detects an unexpected change.
So, set out the meal at the same hours, the same location, and continue to use the same feeding bowl.
Tip #3: Be patient – especially if your dog ends up picking out his old dog food and only eats that.
Dogs can be quite discerning, and your planned gradual transition may not work as you envisioned it to. But be patient and do not worry too much about missed meals.
Observe if hunger will prompt your pup to nibble at new food or if it’s completely opposed to the change. If your dog ends up “nibbling,” this could mean that all you need is more time.
However, if the lovely furry one would rather go hungry than touch the new dog food, it’s likely that it’s simply not a good fit. For this, turn to your vet for other dog food recommendations.
Tip #4: Provide your pet with rewards.
Rewards are effective positive reinforcements for pets. If your dog adjusts well to his new food, reinforce good behavior with praises and tangible rewards. Perhaps, gift him with an extra large and soft dog kennel to make rest or quiet time more comfortable.
Change is rarely easy, even if it’s for the better. Humans struggle with it and pets may experience the same difficulty. Thus, prepare adequately when introducing something new to your canine. Proper and adequate preparation rarely fails in decreasing the stress changes usually bring.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a BSc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.