Improving your dog’s diet is one of the surest ways of keeping them healthy and happy.
Improving your dog’s diet is one of the surest ways of keeping them healthy and happy. Yet sometimes, the transition process itself can be a challenging experience for dogs and their pet-parents.
Many dogs can switch from their current diet to a new fresh diet with no difficulties. However, other dogs may require a gradual transition to a fresh diet. The difference between the old and new food can also change the needed transition time. That’s why switching from dry to fresh food typically takes longer than switching between different fresh foods.
The possible unpleasant side effects of dietary change are a clear example of the impact the microbiome has on dogs’ wellbeing. The microbiome — bacteria and other microorganisms living in dogs’ gut — changes rapidly in response to a new diet, sometimes within hours, and it needs time to adjust to the changes and return to it’s normal function. Rest assured that this disturbance is just temporary!
Every dog is different and there is no-one-size-fits-all advice for switching between diets. You can usually expect a new and healthier balance within a week or two, although it may take longer. Until that happens, the bacterial upheaval can cause some digestive problems. But don’t give up right away! We recommend a slow and gradual transition process that will give your dog’s gut bacteria time to adjust to the dietary change and prevent any possible gut issues.
HOW SHOULD I MAKE THE TRANSITION?
Most dogs do well if they are gradually switched to a fresh diet within 7–10 days. The transition should be done by mixing an increasing amount of the new fresh diet together with your dog’s current diet in the same bowl.
You can use this chart to plan the transition period. It is important to monitor your dog’s response. If, at any point during the diet transition, your dog displays signs of discomfort, you should slow the process: go back one step on the chart, wait for things to go back to normal and then resume the transition.
If the symptoms last longer than expected and the situation does not seem right, you should consult with your veterinarian. There are other possible causes for digestive disorders such as medical conditions and environmental stressors which may not be directly related to dietary changes.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS?
There are a few things to watch for as you switch your dog’s diet. Keep an eye out for:
Poop consistency: Some dogs transitioning to fresh food may experience changes in their stool consistency — from firmer poop to soft stool or watery diarrhea and an increased urge to relieve themselves. The diarrhea should stop after the gut bacteria adjust to the change.
Poop color change: It’s very common for new food ingredients to change the content of your dog’s stool and also its color. There is no need to worry if you notice your dog’s poop has a different shade of brown. You might also see traces of ingredients including vegetables, and there’s no need to be alarmed.
Regurgitation: Stay’s fresh food is very tasty for dogs. They might devour it too quickly, and some of the food can find its way back up.
Decreased appetite: If your dog is a picky eater, it might take some time for them to adjust to the new food. Loss of appetite can also be caused by other reasons such as illness, medications or stress due to changes in the environment. If your dog doesn’t get their appetite back, you can try a different food. We at Stay labs offer a variety of recipes for picky-eating dogs. If this issue lasts longer than expected and if the situation does not seem right, you should consult with your veterinarian.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO EASE THE TRANSITION PERIOD
If you notice any of the above issues, we have a few common recommendations to help:
Regular feeding times: The microbiome is influenced by the body’s internal clock — and affects it in return. Regular feeding times help the gut to “know” when to expect the food and can ease or eliminate digestive issues.
Eat slower: Try portioning their meal or using food puzzles to slow their eating and prevent discomfort and regurgitation.
Add rice: Cooked white rice is highly digestible and a great source of carbs with compounds that help decrease fluid loss in diarrhea. If your dog has diarrhea, you can help them by adding a small amount of cooked rice to their food.
Remember: the transition symptoms are natural and they will disappear soon. Dogs who finish the transition process and are eating a Stay diet have a stronger and healthier microbiome. Give it a try and you’ll really start to notice how healthy and happy your dog can be!