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switching dog food cold turkey

switching dog food cold turkey
switching dog food cold turkey

Our pups have sensitive stomachs, and switching dog food cold turkey is the easiest way to upset it. 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’s 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, the risk of switching dog food cold turkey, and how to calculate mixing two different calorie foods.

Switching dog food cold turkey. A labrador holding its empty bowl of food.

Switching dog food cold turkey: Don’t do it.

It takes time for our dog’s stomachs to adjust to new foods. By adding a few easy steps to transition properly, you’ll prevent gastrointestinal issues that lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

After all, mixing your dog’s food over 9 days will be much easier than cleaning your carpet from repeated illness.

Proper steps to transition your dog to new food.

It’s not uncommon to change a dog’s food. Food changes occur when your dog grows from puppy food to adult food, testing proteins after food allergies, or switching to weight-management food after noticing weight gain in your dog.

Switching your dog’s 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.

Switching dog food cold turkey. A calorie content label

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.

Since many dogs beg when they’re hungry, having healthy snacks, especially those high in fiber like carrots, will help curb their appetite until dinner time.

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. Switching to wet food for senior dogs with mouth or teeth issues is also common.

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

To prevent gastrointestinal issues, safely transition your dog’s food over seven to nine days instead of switching dog food cold turkey.

  • 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 its 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!

Did you decide against switching dog food cold turkey? Share this article with others to prevent their dog from having stomach issues.

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