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What to know if you are changing your dog’s diet

changing your dog's diet

When packing your dog’s food for a holiday, it’s important to keep their diet consistent.  However, if you suspect you might run out, or you are changing your dog’s diet in general, it’s important to transition them across to the the new food slowly.

Whilst humans benefit from eating a variety of foods, a dog’s digestive system is very different to ours and some can have even more sensitive stomachs that others.  As a result, changing your dog’s diet suddenly can cause upset stomachs leading to vomiting and diarrhoea, which is definitely NOT something you want to be dealing with at any time, let along on a road trip or RV holiday!

When transitioning your dog to a new diet, it simply means you start with with introducing small amounts of the new food with the previous food, then slowly increasing the new and decreasing the old to help avoid the stomach upsets.

If you are going to be travelling to a remote area and find that you are running low on supplies, particularly if your dog is on a raw food diet, then you will need to gradually transition them across to any new food or alternative brands over 10 – 14 days, so make sure you are prepared.

Regardless of whether you are simply changing them across to a new brand of the same type of food, or introducing wet or raw food into their diet for the first time from kibble, or vice versa, it is important to do this in all situations.

It will also help to ensure they have the time to get used to any new tastes or textures whilst they are still eating what they are familiar with, and it may also help fussy eaters, or those dogs that aren’t into food that much in general.

When changing your dog’s diet, it is also important to make sure you monitor them over this time to make sure they don’t vomit or get diarrhoea. Yep, this means monitoring their stools too to make sure everything is coming out the other end okay. No runny mess, no struggling to go to the toilet, nothing weird or concerning going on.

The common guide for transitioning your dog over to a new diet is:
Day 1-3: 20% New 80% Old
Day 4-6: 40% New 60% Old
Day 7-9: 60% New 40% Old
Day 10-12: 80% New 20% Old
Day 12+: 100% New Diet

It’s also important to make sure you are not over-feeding your dog. You can find out more about this and more tips on transitioning to a raw food diet on the Big Dog Pet Foods website.

If your dog doesn’t seem to like the new food, or they are a fussy eater in general, it could be more to do with what else you are feeding them throughout the day. You could be over-feeding them, giving them too many treats, or you might actually be encouraging them to become fussy.

All too often a dog is actually being rewarded for being fussy by owners that start to worry that their dog isn’t eating enough. They resort to dropping broken up treats into their dog food, giving them different options to entice them to eat such as cheese and chicken on the side, which is actually encouraging them not to eat their normal food, as they start to learn some better options will soon follow! That is how we often reward and therefore reinforce unwanted behaviour in dogs without even realising.

Instead, simply take their their food away, put it in the fridge and try again later with nothing in between. They will get hungry at some point and start to eat.

To find out more about the benefits of changing your dog’s diet across to a Big Dog Pet Foods raw food diet, check out their website.

About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.

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