How to Start Your Dog on Grain-Free Food
You've decided to go grain-free with your pup's diet, so you're probably anxious to start feeding your furry sidekick his yummy new food right away. Unfortunately, a transition from Fido's existing food to any new diet can cause unpleasant tummy upset for him — and smelly cleanups for you — if done too quickly. We've asked our expert, Dr. Leslie, for some advice on how to make the transition as smooth as possible for your canine companion.
Avoid Sudden Transition
A quick transition from one type of food to another isn't good for your canine companion's sensitive digestive tract, which needs time to adjust to a new food. According to Dr. Leslie, "the bacteria that live in the gut have a critical job in making vitamin K, creating short-chain fatty acids, fermenting fiber and absorbing nutrients and water." She says that suddenly feeding your pooch a new food disrupts the function of these beneficial bacteria. And that's what leads to unpleasant tummy upset.
"Common signs that a new diet was started too quickly are bloating, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation, and even vomiting," says Dr. Leslie. That's why she recommends a slow period of transition onto a new diet. A slow transition lets the cells in your furry friend's intestines get used to processing that tasty new food, which means fewer tummy troubles for Fido.
Pace Your Pup
Start mixing some of your canine companion's new diet into his current food over a period of several days to give his taste buds and tummy some time to adjust to it. "To be safe, it is recommended to give your dog 10 days to slowly and incrementally add in a new diet, while reducing the amount of the old diet that was fed," says Dr. Leslie.
She recommends starting off with about 10 percent of the new food mixed in with 90 percent of the old food on day one. Then increase the amount of new food you give your pooch by 10 percent each day after that, while decreasing the amount of the old food by the same amount.
Watch for Trouble
If Fido experiences tummy upset during the transition period, it's time to slow things down even further. Dr. Leslie recommends that at the first signs of trouble, go back to feeding your furry buddy the balance of new and old food that he tolerated without any upset. "Feed that combination for a few days, and then recommence the transition period," says Dr. Leslie. Don't try any home remedies for tummy upset, she says, and instead talk to your vet to see what she recommends.
Make One Change at a Time
Now's not the time to give any new treats or snacks to your pooch. That's because it's best to change only one thing at a time in your furry friend's diet. According to Dr. Leslie, "if something were to go wrong, it would be difficult to know what was not being tolerated."
Trust Your Vet
If your pup has any medical conditions, always speak to your vet about transitioning your furry friend onto a new food. This is because some health issues may be affected by your canine companion's diet. "For example, a diabetic dog or cat needs to have very consistent feeding regimen, and dogs with pancreatic insufficiency may need very protracted diet transition periods," says Dr. Leslie.
Also, consult with your vet if your furry buddy has weight issues. "Dogs that struggle with their weight will need not just low-calorie foods, but ones that are formulated to also supply all the essential nutrients at increased concentrations to avoid malnutrition," recommends Dr. Leslie.
Start your furry friend's transition onto a healthy, grain-free formula today, like Nature's Recipe® Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe. And remember to make the transition nice and slow so your pup's tummy stays in tip-top shape.