Your dog’s diet contributes to longevity and good health. With the proper food, you’ll have a happy, healthy dog on your hands.
You may find a better food for your dog than the one you’re already feeding them, due to health, allergies or quality of food. Whatever your reason is for a change, when you switch dog food, it’s important to do so carefully.
Here are four tips on how to healthily switch out your dog’s food.
How to choose new food for your dog
Several factors are at play when deciding which new food to feed your dog.
If you’re looking for something your dog will eagerly eat at mealtime, consider the flavor carefully and choose one with a different primary protein source. For instance, you might replace a fish formula with a chicken-based formula.
Unless your dog has allergies, we recommend dog food with grain, since whole grains are good for the heart. Grain-free dog foods have been linked to certain types of heart disease in dogs.
You’ll need to decide whether you’d rather feed your pet kibble, wet food or a mixture of the two. Picky dogs might find wet food more palatable, but that can be an expensive diet to maintain.
Less common alternatives are freeze-dried or raw dog foods.
How to switch dog food gradually
The best way to switch dog food is over the course of a week. This helps avoid digestive problems, such as diarrhea, vomiting and excess flatulence. Often, when dog owners think a new food doesn’t agree with their dog, it’s because they’ve transitioned too quickly. Here’s a rough schedule to help your dog transition:
75% old food
25% new food
50% old food
50% new food
25% old food
75% new food
Day 7 and on
Only new food
Before switching, compare the feeding guidelines on the old food and the new food. If the new food is higher or lower in calories, this will affect the portion size you should feed your dog.
When to consider switching quickly
Although we’d almost always recommend switching foods gradually, there are some situations in which it makes sense to switch foods immediately. This is generally in cases where you believe the food is causing an allergic reaction in your dog or making them sick; it’s wise to see your vet first for this.
If you must switch your dog’s food without a gradual transition period, consider first skipping a meal and then feeding your dog around half to three-quarters of their normal portion size for a couple of meals.
A canine probiotic supplement can also help to avoid unpleasant gastroenterological symptoms, like vomiting and loose stools.
What to watch for after switching food
When switching your dog to a new food, it’s important you keep an eye on your canine companion to make sure it agrees with them.
Watch for signs of diarrhea, vomiting, itchiness or lethargy. It’s not unusual to have some changes in stool texture at first, but liquid diarrhea isn’t normal, especially if you gradually introduce the new food.
Over time, if the new food is agreeing with your dog, you should notice that they have a decent amount of energy (not sluggish or hyperactive), bright eyes, a healthy coat and skin, properly formed stools and enthusiasm about mealtimes.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews, a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
5 tips for choosing healthy soft treats for your dog
It’s easy to determine if a soft dog treat variety is a healthy snack or doggy junk food.
Although there’s nothing wrong with including healthy whole grains such as brown rice or whole wheat flour, treats with large quantities of white flour or other refined grains aren’t ideal.
Treats that contain sugar should be used occasionally.
Quality treats should also contain quality protein, whether that’s from meat or legumes, including peanut butter.
Avoid treats with unspecified animal fats or meats (for example, “animal fat” rather than “chicken fat”), excessive filler ingredients or artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
For dogs that need them, soft treats are available in grain-free options, but a grain-free diet is not necessarily healthier for all dogs.
Consider the calorie content of treats for your dog.
The smallest soft treats contain just 1-2 calories apiece, while large soft treats can contain more than 30 calories.
It’s important to stay in control of your dogs’ calorie intake so they don’t gain weight.
Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. A quick internet search can tell how many calories your dog needs per day.
You can find soft treats in many sizes, from petite 3-ounce bags to giant 2-pound tubs.
You’ll often get the most cost-effective option, at price per ounce, by buying in bulk, but your dog may not get through all of the treats before they go bad.
You can find soft treats ranging from teeny training morsels to large biscuits.
Use your discretion when choosing treats. Small treats are best for training your dog, to be able to give them multiple rewards in a session. If you buy treats that are too large, their softness makes them easier to break into pieces.
3 soft dog treats to try
Salmon, a skin and coat health booster, is the first ingredient in these treats, which are packed with healthy fruits and veggies. They’re highly palatable to most dogs, but on the costlier end of the price spectrum.
These affordable soft treats are a great option for pet parents on a budget. Peanut butter is the No. 1 ingredient, but the cane molasses sweetener and added sugars aren’t great for teeth. It’s made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
These mini soft treats are great for small dogs, or a larger dog’s training treat. They contain healthy whole grains and no artificial colors or preservatives. But the peanut butter flavor could be more prominent.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.