How to Switch Dog Food – The 2 Week Game Plan

Hey, it’s about feeding our furry buddies once again. That’s our responsibility and we should be up and doing at it.

There is what to feed your dog, when to feed, and how to feed him. We will stress that part of how to feed your dog in this article.

As we have often said, humans and canines share a lot of similarities. Maybe that explains why we have that irresistible bond with the furry creatures. Talking about similarities, we both are omnivores, plant and animal eating creatures.

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However, our anatomical structures differ. Among many things, this means that both require different measures of nutritional constituents. As a result, some human meals are highly toxic for them.

This implies that you should be cautious of feeding your dog from your table. The intent may be good, but the consequences will be disastrous.

Let’s get back to similarities. Concerning the subject of food, the body system works in sort of a friend and alliance manner. What does this mean?

Our body system is accustomed to certain kinds of meals. Over time, it becomes accustomed to appropriately digesting these meals. When you take something entirely different from what you are used to, you may get strange feelings in your body. This may be diarrhea or vomiting.

Why the long talk about human digestive tendencies? Well, your dog’s digestive system works almost the same way. Sudden changes in your canine’s diet may do more harm than good. You have to be deliberate about changing the meals in the right manner.

Furthermore, there is that issue of emotions. Your dog is not a robot who is given to doing just about anything. He has a will and the ability to exercise it against yours. True, he can be properly taught to adhere to yours, but he’s got emotions.

In that light, some dogs do not do so well with an inappropriate transition. This isn’t just about changing his diet. It could also include changing your location or a valued human buddy traveling.

Hence, this article will discuss extensively how to switch dog food. On the sidelines, we will walk you through some important details about dog food.

Why You Should Not Switch Dog Food in a Hurry

For canine parents, this is an all-time relevant subject to discuss. At some point in your dog’s life, you will have to switch between meals and diet. This happens for some reasons, as will be shared subsequently in this article.

Of course, you love your dog and you are excited about showering your affection. One way you do this is via food treats. You have just seen this amazing product and gone through the label then you realize it has never been recalled and that sweeps you off your feet.

You tell yourself, “this is just what I’ve always wanted for my buddy.” You cannot wait to serve it to your dog and that’s understandable.

However, on this account, patience is a virtue that you should uphold. Regardless of how good the product is, you should never serve it without the strategies that will be shared here.

In learning to switch dog food appropriately, the rule of the game is patience. Do not be in a hurry to part ways with the old stuff. This is because it is central to your dog’s acceptance of the new diet. If you do not play by this rule, there will be side effects.

If you prefer a visual explanation of this article, below is a detailed and helpful video.

Video: How to Switch Dog Food (The 2 Week Game Plan)

Side Effects of Switching Dog Food Suddenly

For some reason, you do not want to switch your dog food suddenly. Let’s see some of the negative consequences that might unfold.

Vomiting Is Very Possible

In our years of writing and taking care of various breeds of dogs, this is a no-no for us. The site of a dog vomiting is terrifying, to say the least. We would do everything possible to avoid this. One of such is never suddenly switching dog food.

As an added damage, you get to lose that bit of previously eaten food. What makes a dog vomit just by eating a new type of food?

This is how it works. Your dog is accustomed to eating a certain meal, let’s say for about 6 months. At that time, his digestive system is wired to accepting and deriving nutrients from that meal.

Suddenly changing the meal is tantamount to changing the norms of the digestive system. Processing such will only become easier with time.

Stooling

Yes, it is called diarrhea and that can also happen. It is one of the possibilities of abruptly changing dog food.

It is the digestive system’s way of protesting against a sudden change in dog meal. This underlines why you should exercise caution before changing your canine’s meal.

Decreased Desire for Food

What happens to a dog who’s had diarrhea and vomited because of a change in his meal? He becomes extra-cautious about eating anything. He’s frightened about the possibility of going through that ordeal again.

As a result, he would not eat until he is almost starving and has no other choice. This will in turn, affect the dog’s confidence and excitement level.

As earlier stated, every dog has a will. One that he would not mind expressing. Some dogs may just not like the idea of changing their usual dietary intake. As a result, being clever is of the essence. If you obey every strategy shared here to the letter, you should not experience this problem.

How to Switch Dog Food

Up till this point, we have stressed the most important fact about switching dog food. This is apparently, the need to be patient. Haven said that, how exactly do we exercise patience in transiting between these meals.

Many people suggest that you carry out the process within 7 days. The idea is as the days roll by, you serve more of the new food and less of the food you intend changing.

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As time goes on, your dog will eventually become accustomed to the new food without any craving for the old food. This way, the dog has a feeling of the original feed until he has no problem adjusting to the new one.

The conventional choice of 7 days is good. There have been positive reviews, however, you cannot be too careful. As a result, we strongly recommend a 2 – 3-week transition period, as we will wheel out the various actions to be taken within this time.

Although not compulsory, we also advise that you kick-off the switching process on a Sunday. Being the first day of the week, you would not likely forget the timing. So, let’s see what happens between the 2 weeks.

Below is a video explaining how to switch from one dog food to another.

Video: How to Transition Your Pet to a New Food – Petco

Day 1 – 4

At this point, the old food is still the larger bit of the entire meal. Considering that the quantity of food is a complicated topic, we cannot say how much you should feed your dog. This is based on factors such as breed, physical activity, and health status, among others.

However, the new food should take about 20% of the entire meal. This means you will have more of the food you intend changing in the meal. Also, you should thoroughly mix old and new food. This is very important in getting a very picky dog to transit easily.

In terms of ratio, the mixture will be 1:4. The new food at 1 and the old food at 4. Using the aid of the right measuring tools, you can be certain your measurement is right.

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Day 5 – 8

As you would have guessed, the new food stakes become higher. As against the 20 percent portion, the new food is increased to about 40 percent. At this point, you still have a slightly larger share of the food you intend changing. The old food is 60 percent and the new food is 40 percent.

If you would like it in ratio, that will be a 2:3 measurement system. The new food at 2, while the old one at 3.

If you weren’t thoroughly mixing the food on the first till the fourth day, there’s no room for mistakes now. You should mix the two different food very well.

On the sidelines, you should understand that your dog has a preference. You will have to pay close attention to his eating habits during this period. One of the things you should find out is if he is allergic to constituents in the meal.

If he is stooling, vomiting, or showing other signs of gastrointestinal upset, it may be time to pull the plug. Depending on the situation, you may need to change the choice of new food, or even consult your vet.

If everything goes in the right direction, then you should proceed to the next stage.

Day 9 – 11

Of course, the new food takes over at this point. However, you are not entirely done with that old food. From the ninth till the eleventh day, serve about 70% of the new food in the entire meal. That leaves the old food at 30 percent.

Do not forget the essential part of mixing thoroughly. Aside from helping your dog accept his new reality, this helps the digestion process.

If your dog did not show weird signs from the earlier stage, he should be fine now. Be that as it may, still keep an eye on him as unusual things happen.

Day 12 and 13

This is the stage before the entire switch. You should put no less than 90% of the new food in the entire meal.

90% of the new food? You may be wondering if you could as well make the final switch. That is a feeling not only peculiar to you. It is just normal to think that way. You have put in a lot of time and effort into this meal transition. Just be patient and see it through; one more step and you are done.

Day 14 – The D-day

At this stage, we hope you have no more old food left. This is apparently because you and your dog are done with it. It is time to make the 100 percent switch to the new dog food. Hurray!

The Transition – Wet food and Dry Food

This is also the other way around: dry to wet food. From experience, our furry companions do not make much of a fuss changing from one type of grain to another. Also, the transition is not a big deal when you are switching between wet food.

However, the apparent difference in nutritional properties, look, and moisture in the wet versus dry is a big one for dogs. How is this?

Talking about moisture, wet food has a lot of it, and we tend to believe that dogs prefer it. We have also had some canines that validate this belief. 

The decision to switch can be down to cost, for instance. Also, some vets recommend dry dog food for health reasons. The process of chewing the grains helps deal with tartar build-up in your dog’s dental cavity. 

Also, about cost-effectiveness, it is apparent that kibbles are cost-friendly and nutritious for dogs. Little wonder they are the most purchased dog food product. But how about taste for the canine? How do you explain to your furry friend the need for the transition? 

If your dog considers wet food to be way better than dry food, that calls for a greater deal of patience. As with the same category transition shared above, you will need no less than 2 weeks to see this through.

The place of measuring tools is very crucial in the entire switching process. Ensure that you have them ready before you kick off the transition.

Day 1 – 4

You should use the same percentage technique shared above. For the sake of clarity, add 20% of the new dry food, and 80% of the wet food you intend changing.

Constipation is a major problem when switching food. This is because wet food has a larger amount of moisture in its content. On the contrary, as the name suggests, dry food isn’t so good with moisture.

This means the dog’s digestive system is accustomed to having a large chunk of liquid in the previous meals. To help the dog sail through the switching process, help out by adding water.

A bit of water should be added. This water should be warm. Ensure you do this just before you are ready to serve your dog. This is because the addition of water can make dry dog food go stale quickly. For any reason, do not serve if it has gone beyond 15 minutes.

So, do not forget the measurement, 80% wet food, 20% dry food, and a bit of water that is warm.

Day 5 – 8

There will be a definite increase here. At this point, your dog should have about 60 percent old wet food, and 40 percent new dry food. Because of the increase in dry food, you might need a slight increase in added water.

Ensure that the water is warm. This fastens the softening process, as well as reduces the possibility of microbes.

Day 9 – 11

At this point, the new meal is calling the shot. You have more of the new and less of the food you intend to change. The new dry food should take about 70% of the entire meal. On the other hand, that old wet food takes 30 percent.

Do not forget the golden rule of softening the whole meal with water. This increases the moisture content, making it easy to digest.

Day 12 and 13

Of course, it increases. Now you should serve 90 – 95% of the new dry meal. This, in turn, means the old wet meal takes about 5 – 10% of the entire meal.

At this point, ensure your dog’s system is alright with the entire switching process. Keep a close watch on your dog. Make sure there’s no record of vomiting, diarrhea, and any other gastrointestinal upset.

Also, some dogs have nutritional allergies. You should check for skin rashes during this period. If your dog shows such signs, you may have to try something else.

Day 14

This is when you bid the old wet food farewell. Your dog gets a full package of dry dog food without the addition of wet food.

When and How to Switch Puppy to Dog Food

In this context, the term puppy is relatively ambiguous. To make things easier, we will make a distinction between young and older puppies.

Younger Puppies

Let’s make a general statement, as we hope it will help. It cost more to feed a puppy than an adult dog. Because of their delicate stage, they have to frequently eat meals with the right nutrients. If they are not exposed to the right meal, the result can be devastating.

However, dogs should not be exposed to processed meals right from the start. As with humans, it is only appropriate that they are exclusively weaned at first.

From 8 – 8 and a half weeks, the breast milk is very important in their eventual turnout. However, exclusive breastfeeding should take just about 4 weeks. Within those 4 weeks, all timely nutrients required for their growth are embedded in the breastmilk.

From the 5th week, you should introduce the dog to commercial meals. We highly recommend stage sensitive meals at this point in their lives. What does this mean?

There are tested and trusted commercial puppy dog food in the market. These products are thoughtfully produced with your puppy’s dietary demands in mind. Using them as against general grains or wet food will benefit your dog.

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In all, do not forget the dogs should benefit from the breastmilk as well. The commercial meal is important, but just to augument and introduce the puppies to external food.

Bearing in mind the differences between breastmilk and commercial dog food, an increase in moisture will help. You should add a bit of water to the food, especially if it is kibble.

We recommend that puppies should be introduced to the ideal dry food at first. This is because of the process required in consumption; grains require chewing. In the process, not only does your dog get the needed calcium, chewing deals with tartar build-up.

The chance of healthy teeth is slightly increased with grains as the major food intake. However, do not forget the place of water in making the food moist and more edible. Warm water will be more appropriate. Over time, gradually reduce the amount of water added, until you stop eventually.

Also, some people use milk as another option to soften the kibbles and dry food at large. Most dogs would love the taste. However, we recommend water considering the delicate life stage of the dog.

Equally important is feeding the canine nursing mother effectively. This is for the benefit of both mother and puppies (as is usually the case).

At about 6 weeks, you should increase the rate of commercial meals given to your dog. Firstly, this is because the weaning process will be over soon. With respect to the number of times, feed your dog between 3 – 5 times daily

Some canine parents make a grievous mistake. Sometimes because of a tight schedule, they combine meals. In simpler terms, they serve two portions once.

This is how it works. Your puppy needs a lot of nutrients for adequate growth. Ironically, he has a very small bowel. This means that the puppy cannot consume so much and needs to replenish the moment the last meal is digested. Let’s get back to switching puppies to dog food.

At about 7 weeks, the mother should stop weaning the puppies. However, do not influence the change. Let the decision be hers to take. On your part, as shared in this article, ensure you follow the dishing of commercial meals to the letter.

Let’s summarize to wrap up this part of switching younger puppies to dog food. Before 4 weeks, it is about exclusive breastfeeding. No other meal is allowed. At 4 weeks, they are well able to handle a slight change.

As a result, introduce the puppy to very small portions of commercial dog food. In preparation for the end of weaning, increase the food portions served to the puppy. A sequence of 3 – 5 times daily should do.

Do not forget that the food quantity isn’t a one size fit all system. It should be influenced by things such as the breed and size of the dog. As we already know, larger sized dogs consume more food than smaller sized dogs.  

Older Puppies

When can a canine be classified as an older puppy? The term older puppy is not often used. In this context, it is a way of distinguishing between the different dietary needs of old and young puppies. In light of that, from 6 months up till around a year, we consider dogs as old puppies.

Regarding the switch to dog food, reduce the food consumption of the dog at this point. Before now, you would recall that you were feeding 3 – 5 times a day. At the older puppy stage, that should be reduced to thrice. Why is this?

The dog does not need so much food for growth. A large part of his growth has been experienced before now. In light of this, the major reason for feeding is maintenance.

Also, food reduction is to reduce the possibility of canine diabetes which is a fast-growing nightmare among dogs. One of the major triggers is overfeeding. When a dog eats without having avenues to burn calories, diabetes is very possible.

After 6 months to 1 year, the feeding system should be reduced to 2 times daily. At this stage, they do not need as many calories as they required while younger.

Furthermore, there is a difference between large-sized puppy food and regular ones. Large-sized puppy food should be served to large dogs, and regular ones to small and medium dogs.

Switching from Puppy to Dog Food for Adults

In passing, we have identified the various stages of a dog’s life and the year. Just as a recap, the puppy stage is divided into 2 sub-stages: the young and old. So, we have a young puppy and an old puppy. Both fall under the first year of the dog’s life.

The young puppy is from 1 day to 6 months. As you would have figured out, old puppies are from 6 months to 1 year.

After the 1-year milestone, the dog is said to have reached adulthood. This varies according to breed. For some larger sized dogs, adulthood starts from around 1 and a half year. So, it is safer to say, the canine adult stage is from 1 year to 1 and a half years.

To receive the right nutrients needed for their stage, they need to switch to a more mature feed. For larger sized breeds, you might need professional advice on how to go about this. For some of these big sized furry companions, the use of puppy food may extend much longer.

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There are varying categories of dog food for adults. Some are densely prepared for aging dogs. At what point do you feed such food to your dog? As you’ll have noticed, the age system is not the same between small and larger-sized dogs.

The muscles and bones of larger sized dogs age quickly. Little wonder some of them are very prone to arthritis. For such large dogs, you are to switch when the dog is around 6 years. On the contrary, smaller sized dogs should take an extra year before they are switched.

A very important issue: except stated otherwise, the switch should retain the exact quantity and number of calories.

Exemption to the Previous Switching Strategy

There are certain points in the canine’s life when this strategy should not be entirely followed. Let’s examine some of these points.

Pregnancy Changes Everything

Have you ever sensed the hostility of a dog that has just given birth? Pregnancy is a sensitive time for the canine, and this should reflect in her feeding.

At this point in their lives, such dogs need meals high with energy. Also, they should not be short on calcium. Considering that puppy food is high in calcium, you should help your dog switch from adult to food for puppies.

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Adhering to this is not only important for the pregnant dog. The eventually conceived dogs will be dependent on the nursing mother for nutrients, during the exclusive weaning period. To ensure they are fed appropriately at this time, feed the pregnant dog appropriately.

Concerning the subject of switching to food for puppies, there is another caution to be taken. Do not switch large dogs to large puppy food. Kindly switch them to regular food for puppies.

Health Complications

The health status of the dog determines the feeding to a large extent. If a dog has arthritis or diabetes, the feeding should be tailored to helping the dog scale through. For diabetes which is a lifelong experience, the feeding of such a dog will change entirely.

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This may be vivid in the ration, but particularly the type of food. For such dogs, therapeutic dog food is a very vital part of their feeding.

Conclusion

Are you driven by the need to help your dog switch food conveniently?

Well, you have been handed a lifeline in this writeup. Other than the exemptions shared, the 2 weeks transition process is certainly the ideal way to go about it.

Some stages and situations demand a change in dog food. These transitions must be properly carried out. This is to avoid loss of appetite for the canine, as well as other harsh health conditions. This may be vomiting, stooling, skin rash, constipation, among others.

To ensure the transition is smooth, make sure you patiently carry it out. 

First, you start with a larger chunk of old food in the meal. For 2 weeks, gradually increase the addition of the new food, until it’s the only thing served.

Also, consider the new food a test for the dog. If he does not do well with it, do not hesitate to change to a more suitable option.

Lastly, you can make use of prebiotics to help your dog during this process.

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