How To Transition Your Dog To New Food

How to transition your dog to a new food. A puppy sits by it's empty food bowl, head tilted, waiting for food.

Our pups have sensitive stomachs. If you’ve started a weight-loss diet or are testing new proteins in your dog’s diet, it’s essential to know how to transition your dog to new food.

What is the right way to switch your dog’s food? You should gradually transition your dog’s food over a seven to nine-day period, mixing the two foods gradually.

A sudden change in diet can cause gastrointestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea. By mixing their old food with the new food slowly, your dog’s digestive system can learn to process the new food better.

To further the headache, mixing the old food with a different calorie level of new food can be confusing.

This article will walk you through correctly transitioning your dog’s food and explain how to calculate mixing two different calorie foods.

how to transition your dog to new food. A yellow lab is holding it's dog bowl in it's mouth waiting for food.

Proper steps to transition your dog to new food.

Transitioning to a new food is a process that should happen slowly. You should budget for seven to nine days to completely transition.

Slowly introducing the new food will help avoid any gastrointestinal distress or issues like vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Day 1-3: Mix 25 percent of the new food with 75 percent of the old food.
  • Day 4-6: Mix 50 percent of the new food with 50 percent of the old food.
  • Day 7-9: Mix 75 percent of the new food with 25 percent of the old food.
  • Day 10: Feed only the new food.

If your dog is doing well on the new food and has no stomach or digestive issues, you can continue feeding it to them. If your dog begins to experience any problems, stop the transition and contact your veterinarian.

Avoid over-feeding during the transition period.

When reading a dog food label, the label will list the calories in kcal/8 oz cup. It will be essential to know the exact amount of calories your dog is currently consuming.

For example, the calorie content of your dog’s current food is 315 kcal/8 oz, and your dog eats 1 3/8 cups each meal. Your dog’s daily caloric intake — without snacks — is 904 kilocalories.

How do you calculate the total calories?

First, calculate the per-ounce kcal serving size of the old food.

315kcal/8 oz cup ÷ 8 ounces = 39.375 kcal/oz. 

Next, multiply the per ounce number by the ounces fed (1 3/8 cup is roughly 11.4 ounces)

39.375kcal/oz x 11.5 ounces = 452 kcal per serving

If the new food is 400 kcal/8 oz cup you’ll follow these calculations to determine the correct serving amount for 450 kcal per serving.

400kcal/8 oz cup ÷ 8 ounces = 50 kcal/oz.

450kcal ÷ 50 kcal/oz = 9 ounces or 1.125 cups

Mixing the two foods.

11.5 ounces x 75% = 8.625 oz

9 ounces x 25% = 2.25 oz

Your dog will be consuming less volume of food, 10.875 ounces, while still maintaining a diet of 450 kilocalories.

If you’re transitioning to low-calorie food, this is an excellent opportunity to slowly decrease your dog’s daily calorie intake over this period.

What are the common reasons owners switch their dog’s food?

  • Lifestages. Puppies need more calories and nutrients to help promote their rapid growth and energy. As puppies get older — usually around 12 months old — they can begin to transition to eating adult dog food.
  • Weight management. If your dog puts on extra pounds, it may be time to diet. A diet may mean transitioning from a high or mid-calorie food to a low-calorie dietary food.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities. If you’ve started to see signs of allergies or food-related health problems, your dog may have a sensitivity to the ingredients in their food. You can help to isolate the allergy your dog is suffering from by switching to single-protein or limited-ingredient food. 
  • Specialty health reasons. If your dog is suffering from a health condition or disease, like heart disease or liver disease, it may require a special diet.

Before changing your dog’s diet, always consult with your veterinarian. They may be able to diagnose the problem without testing new dietary foods.

In Conclusion

What’s the proper way to transition your dog to new food?

Slowly, over seven to nine days. Days 1-3, feed your dog 75% of the old food and 25% of the new food. Days 3-6, decrease the old food to 50% and increase the new food to 50%. Days 6-9, your dog will consume 25% of the old food and 75% of the new food. On the tenth day, you have fully transitioned your dog to their new food.

Now that you know how to transition your dog’s food, you can begin trying new foods with confidence. Remember to take it slow and consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

If your dog has existing digestive issues or a sensitive stomach, your veterinarian can help you create a custom plan for your dog based on their specific needs.

Happy feeding!

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