How to change your dog’s food

All dogs are different and the guidelines should be adapted to take into account breed, age, temperament and activity level of the individual dog. When changing foods please introduce gradually over a period of two weeks. Always ensure fresh, clean water is available.

You might want to change your dog’s food to a new brand or type, either for preference or because you have been advised to do so for a medical reason.

It’s always best to change the food gradually, over a couple of weeks. This may seem like a long time, but it’s best to be patient to avoid any problems.

Never change their food suddenly unless you are advised to do so by your vet. This is because sudden changes to diet can cause a tummy upset or even diarrhoea, and for some pets it may make them less likely to eat the food offered to them.

Day 1-3: Introduce a small amount of the new food separately

  • Give your dog their regular meal as normal. On a separate plate or bowl, put down a small teaspoonful of their new food.
  • Keep them on separate plates or bowls and don’t mix the foods together yet. This is to introduce them to the new food slowly.
  • They’ll probably sniff it, and may even eat it (but don’t worry if they don’t yet).

Day 4-10: Increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food

  • You can now start mixing the foods together, start by mixing a very small amount of the new diet in with the old diet – less than a teaspoon is plenty at this stage.
  • If adding the new food goes down well and they’re still eating all their food, then you can slowly increase the portion of new food and decrease the amount of old food in equal parts every day
  • If you reach a point where the amount of new food being added is turning your pet off, then decrease the amount back to a level they’ll eat and stay at this for a few more days. After several days they should start to show interest again and you can then start to add a few more sprinkles of the new food.
  • Gradually keep adding the new food and decreasing the old until you have made the transition fully.
  • The gradual change over will help to avoid tummy upsets.

Day 10-14: Gradually phase out the old food completely

  • Once your pet is consistently eating the mix of new food alongside the old for at least a week, start phasing out the old food, 
  • Again, if they don’t want to eat it at any point, then you may need to decrease the amount of new food for another few days.
  • Use any old food by mixing in with the new save throwing away.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to introduce a new food to your dog without difficulty. If you’re having trouble, it’s best to speak to your vet to make sure that the food you’re feeding is best for your dog and that they don’t have any health issues that might be affecting their appetite.

A few things to watch for are any changes in appetite or stool quality.

What to expect when introducing a new pet food to your dog.

Most of the time, when mixing or changing new pet foods as described above, you will not have too many problems with your dog.

Occasionally, a dog may not eat the new food as well for various reasons. Some different animal proteins, for example, fish compared to poultry, may be preferred depending on the individual dog. If your dog does not like a new flavor or protein of dog food, you can try a new  sample with another recipe.

By offering a mixture of the new food with the previous food and steadily decreasing the previous food over a few days, may increase your dog’s acceptance of the new food.

Commitment and consistency are key when transitioning your dog to a new pet food.