Make a Healthy Difference for Your Pup: Learn the Steps for Changing Dog Food
Dogs are an essential part of many families. In the U.S., about 38% of all households own a dog. These prized members of our household offer excitement, love and support. Whether your furry friend spends his days cuddled up on the couch or working at your side, he needs adequate nutrition. At Front of the Pack, we understand how important it is to ensure your dog has the right food for his needs. In some cases, that means changing dog food to a better option.
Feeding the same old thing every day may bore your pooch after a while, and some of the popular foods may not be as healthy as you thought. Unfortunately, changing it out is not as easy as simply buying a new bag of kibble. There are steps you have to take to make an effective change.
Is Your Dog's Food Healthy?
Many pet parents do not know how healthy their dog food is. Owners may just purchase the same foods repeatedly at the supermarket and do not question the nutrient content or how healthy the food is for their specific animal.
You don’t have to feed your pet fresh or raw food but healthy dog food does not contain fillers, is safe to eat and is produced under sanitary conditions.
What Makes a Dog Food Healthy?
Every pet has different needs. To know what makes dog food healthy, consider age, health conditions, allergies and weight.
High-quality food has nutrients that encourage your pup's long, healthy life. One of the primary essential nutrients is protein, which helps build and repair tissue and organs within the body. If you want your pup to grow up strong and lean, you need to focus on dog foods with enough protein.
Additionally, your dog may require different vitamin and mineral supplements. Think about your diet. Humans need vitamins and minerals to help with our immune system, digestive health and metabolic health. To provide the same for your canine, look for foods with high-quality grains and vegetables. Vitamins C and E are high in antioxidants. Likewise, natural pet food should include phosphorus, sodium, zinc and vitamins B, D, A and K.
Changing dog food to include some carbohydrates may also suit your animal. Soy and barley, for example, provide energy to your pup. When it comes to fats, focus on healthy fats that improve skin and fur and provide energy.
Individual Animal Considerations
Dogs at different ages require different vitamins and nutrients. Younger canines need higher calories because they’re still growing. As puppies become adults, adult food lowers the calorie intake to keep their weight under control. Likewise, senior dogs require even fewer calories because they don’t always stay as active. However, they may require other supplements, like glucosamine to help with joint issues.
Some dogs are more sensitive to food than others. You may have one dog who can eat just about any food with no problem, while another animal may have itchy, irritated skin when on the wrong diet. Dogs with other medical conditions like kidney disease or diabetes may need a particular dog food that helps improve or maintain canine wellness in regards to different health conditions.
3 Steps for Changing Dog Food
You cannot change your dog's food overnight. Routine is critical to your pet's development, and many canines are creatures of habit. Not only does changing their food suddenly disrupt their day, but it can leave them feeling unwell, too.
1. Choose a New Food
Trust matters when changing dog food. Look for ingredients with scientific backing. For example, research shows the benefits of L-carnitine on muscle growth. You don’t need to guess whether the ingredients in your dog's chow will help or harm them when there's science behind it and you’ve done a bit of research.
Think about your dog's specific dietary needs. Canines do well on limited-ingredient foods with little to no filler. Filler can cause animals to get insufficient nutrients and gain weight. In addition to choosing food based on nutrients, think about the taste. While some dogs may eat anything you put in front of them, others have flavor preferences. Most love the taste of meat-flavored foods, like chicken or salmon.
2. Make the Change Gradually
Do not think about changing dog food suddenly. Too abrupt changes in diet can lead to stomach upset, decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Only cut the food off short if your dog has a severe allergic reaction.
Changing dog food too quickly may make it seem like it’s impossible to alter your pet's diet. After all, if the dog becomes sick or wants the old food back, they may not touch the new kibble. Try to be gradual with the change so your dog's body and tastes can acclimate to the change. The transitional period should take about five to seven days.
Gradually add more of the new food to your pup's bowl each day. For example, split your dog's food up 25% new and 75% old on the first day. Then, on the third day, you can split portions of the two types of food in half. Try giving your dog 75% new and 25% old by day five. On day seven, you can change over 100% to the new diet.
3. Monitor Your Dog for Changes
All dogs are different and may not require the same schedule. For example, animals with food allergies or sensitive stomachs may need you to take it slow. Monitor your dog's response to the food. If you notice any behavioral changes or if your pet appears uncomfortable, try slowing down the transition. If the problems persist, you may need to consider a different food or consult with a veterinarian about your animal's needs.
Some common reactions to food include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Hair loss
- Skin inflammation
- Changes in appetite
Whenever you change your dog's food, watch closely for symptoms of trouble.
Changing Dog Food With Front of the Pack
Changing your dog's food can help keep your pup from becoming bored with their food. Likewise, you can change to a healthier option for man's best friend. At Front of the Pack, we understand how challenging changing dog food can be. Fortunately, even the pickiest animals love our various formulas. Find out how to transition your dog to our healthy new food option.