When should you switch dog food? And why?
Every pet owner and more often than not dog owners especially worry about when and why the should change pet food. You may be tempted by a special offer promised by a new supplier. There may be a recommendation made by your vet. Or maybe your pet has simply become more fussy about what they eat and you need good nutrition for them. Read on to learn more about when you might switch dog food and why that would be a good idea.
When should you switch dog food, and why?
Puppies and grown dogs can bring a lot of fun into a household. They are perhaps the only animal that loves unconditionally, and they give humans company, and sometimes protection.
This is why it can be worrying when pets develop problems such as allergies, or simply go off their food. Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us when there is a problem.
Sometimes a change in a diet can do a dog some good, other times as a puppy it is a necessity. However, sometimes switching around a dog’s diet can do more harm than good. Of course, you want to ensure the best dog food and nutrition for your pet, but not all diets work for all dogs.
Should you then alter your dog’s eating habits and what their diet consists of? If so, when is the best time to do this, and what would be the reasons for doing so?
What food should a puppy start on?
Puppies will of course start on their mother’s milk. Generally speaking, puppies will be weaned off this starting around six weeks. By 8 to 10 weeks they should be eating wet and/or dry food. Although this is not set in stone and some dogs are slower to change than others.
A good rule of thumb when choosing a diet for a new puppy is to ask for advice from your vet. However, if this is not practical, then look at the ranges of food available.
All food labelled for puppies will be marked with age ranges. This will give you a basic sense of what food is good for your young pup, and what is perhaps best left until they are older. Puppies change rapidly during the first six months, and their dietary needs reflect this.
When looking for good puppy food, look for whole ingredients, plenty of fibre, and DHA. Ideally, look for kibble that contains plenty of meat and is made from local ingredients and fresh. This may sound strange but lots of dog food is manufactured months in advance and sits on shop shelves for a very long time. Some manufacturers specialise in producing locally sourced kibble in smaller batches.
When should puppies switch to adult food?
Puppies grow an awful lot in the first six months of their lives. This is when they develop the most, and their dietary needs then are very important.
Between six months and a year though, things begin to change. They will be close to their full adult size at this point and they will start to need less energy in their diet. During their early months, they would have been growing and developing and that requires a lot of protein and nutrition, now their needs will alter.
One other reason for changing their diet will be if they are being spayed or neutered. This will change how much energy they need too. It is important to note though, that different breeds and sizes of dogs will affect when they fully reach adulthood.
Generally speaking, you could say that the smaller the breed is, the quicker they will reach full growth. For instance, a toy dog breed might mature at just 7 months, whereas a giant dog breed, such as a Great Dane, might take up to two years.
Should you ever switch a dog’s diet?
There is still a widely held belief that a dog’s diet should never be altered dramatically. The reasoning behind this is that switching diets quickly can cause stomach upsets and real gastric problems. Vets report gastroenteritis and bloody diarrhoea from pets whose owners switched their diets.
However, it is possible to switch a dog’s diet very successfully, and in some cases it is necessary. Many owners have found that switching their pet’s diet improved their general health and removed a worrying issue, such as lethargy.
The key to a safe process when you switch dog food and any pet’s diet in fact, is to do it slowly. Perhaps take a week or so to get them used to the new food. This can be done by mixing in some of the new food with the old, and changing the ratios during the week until you get to only the new food being used.
Can you switch to a raw dog diet?
One diet that has been interesting for pet owners for a while now, is the raw diet. It is exactly as it sounds. The idea of this diet is for dogs to eat as they once would have before they were domesticated.
There are some benefits, but also some risks to the raw dog diet, according to Fetch by WebMD. The diet is high in protein and includes bones, meat, fruit, and vegetables. The high protein can cause kidney problems and pancreatitis, and bones are always prone to causing injuries when eaten.
Speaking to your vet before switching to a raw dog diet might be recommended, especially if your pet has any health issues.
Is it OK to switch dog food and their diet constantly?
Some owners worry about their dogs becoming bored of the food they are fed. Dogs though have far fewer taste receptors than humans. They are generally pretty happy with the taste of their food it would seem.
More important is what goes into it. Dog nutrition in a well-balanced diet is critical, but some dog foods are packed with fillers and rather unpalatable ingredients. Many of these are known allergens.
Would a diet switch help if the dog has allergy issues?
Many experts in the pet industry including vets would advocate changing a diet to help with allergies. The most common allergy for dogs would be with their food.
Some companies such as Scratch Pet Food use fully transparent labelling which helps in spotting which ingredients are known allergens.
If your dog is lethargic, has stomach and bowel problems, or is constantly scratching, it may have a food allergy. You may have to use an elimination diet to work out what is affecting your pet, but your vet can help you with this.
What sort of diet is recommended for dogs today?
A good diet for your dog will depend partly on their age and their needs. As you have read above, puppies require a lot more calories than a fully grown dog due to their development.
As dogs enter their later life, they will need even fewer calories, but require more fibre in their diets.
Ideally, a dog’s diet would be balanced and contain minerals and nutrients as a human would. Nutrition should come from meat and fish, along with whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.
Summary – So when is a good time to switch dog food…
If you are the proud owner of a happy, healthy dog, then there may be no need to switch their diet. Indeed, it may be detrimental too. There are, though, some good reasons to switch diets from time to time.
The Pet Health Network says that most dog allergies are due to their diets, and vets would agree. Therefore, a dietary change in these circumstances would be beneficial to your pet.
Sometimes a change is taken out of your hands. Your dog’s favourite brand may get discontinued, or the recipe changed so much that he or she will no longer eat it. If so, then try and switch to the new food slowly, so they can adjust.
Lastly, you might want to switch diets so that your pet is receiving better quality food. Many brands use imported powdered ingredients. Look for whole ingredients and plenty of meat instead of fillers. Hopefully, your dog will be enjoying whatever food they like the most for a long time to come.
Further reading about pet well being, dogsitting with Housesitmatch
At Housesitmatch.com we always try to share useful and informative blogs and practical advice with our members. Read on to find some helpful articles with useful tips for dog owners and dogsitters about dogsitting and dog health.
How to manage your dog’s eye health
How to improve your pet dog’s health and fitness
Top dogsitting tips for beginners
Dogsitters’ tips – Dog’s body language and how to read it