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eating grain free food

Transitioning to Grain Free dog food the right way

Recently we told you “What are the benefits of Grain-Free dog food?” and why should you consider switching your pup’s diet. However, sometimes transitioning to grain free food too quickly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or excess gas.  Unlike humans, dogs often eat the same diet for months or years, and their digestive systems are not as used to change. So let’s dig into it and find out how to make this process easy and less stressful for your fluffy friend.

When and why should I change my dog’s diet?

When your dog is getting older its food preference can change. Dogs can develop allergies to certain ingredients in their food—sometimes even after eating that ingredient for years with no problems. For example, a lot of dogs have reactions to chicken. It’s a common issue nowadays. When you see any changes in your dog’s behavior or disposition, skin or coat getting worse – go to the vet! If your vet suspects that your dog has a food sensitivity, a diet switch is in order. Your vet may recommend trying novel proteins—a fancy way of saying “types of meat your dog has never tried.”

How to implement transitioning to grain free food?

There are 2 main issues when transitioning to Grain Free dog food are overeating and switching too fast. This is a high energy diet that dogs like to eat.  Too much of a high energy formula can lead to diarrhea. You should do so gradually as the dog most likely has not been exposed to these ingredients previously, and when changing foods there may be a loosening of stool.

Decrease the “old” food amount

When switching to a higher quality dog food, the food is oftentimes more protein-dense.  This means that the food is higher calorie per cup, so the pet gets the same number of calories in less food.  If you give your pet the same amount of grain-free food, it can cause diarrhea and/or weight gain from over-feeding.  When feeding your dog, please refer to the feeding guidelines and do not overfeed. Do not overfeed! But remember that usually, recommendations aren’t one size fits all, and an average pet may need less to maintain their ideal body weight.

Start introducing Grain Free food gradually

It’s best to change your dog’s diet gradually and systematically. Transition your dog to a new food by substituting a little of the new stuff for the old in their usual meal. Swap out a little more at the next feeding, and so on, for seven days. Wheat, beef, dairy, eggs and chicken are all common sources of sensitivity. Look for new food that doesn’t include any of these ingredients.

Avoid giving your dog any treats or human food for at least six weeks while you’re experimenting with a new diet. It may take as long as 12 weeks before you can tell whether a new diet regimen is working. If your dog develops any new symptoms, talk to your veterinarian.

Transition schedule

7-day schedule to make a food switch

Day 1

  • 75% old food
  • 25% new food

Day 2

  • 70% old food
  • 30% new food

Day 3

  • 60% old food
  • 40% new food

Day 4

  • 50% old food
  • 50% new food

Day 5

  • 40% old food
  • 60% new food

Day 6

  • 25% old food
  • 75% new food

Day 7

  • 100% new food

Important things to remember

  • Give it time – if you notice any issues, go back a step or transition more slowly.
  • Not one food is best for every pet – just because a food has great ingredients, or you like something about it, does not mean your pet will do well on it.  If you follow the steps above, and your pet is not thriving, pick a different food.
  • Allergies or skin & coat issues can take up to three months to resolve completely.  If your pet does well with the food transition, give those other issues some time to get better.
  • Change in stool – you may notice a change in the appearance of your pet’s stool even after the transition period.  This is normal and can be a result of the change in the amount of fiber and protein in the new diet.
  • Consult with your veterinarian – If your pet has a loose stool for more than a day or two, shows other signs of gastrointestinal distress, or just isn’t acting like their normal self, never hesitate to get them checked out by their veterinarian.

By the way, check out this cool article on the Canadian Living “5 best ways to find a vet“.

Explore FEED’EM “Lamb & Sweet Potato” formula

Do you know that you can get a FREE sample of our Grain Free dog food to make the transition process more comfortable for your pooch? Fill out this FORM and get your sample in less than 5 business days.

Buddy adores FEED’EM grain free dog food. He became more active and his coat literally shines.” – Ken M.

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