It is a common misconception that once you find a food that works with your dog that they should remain on the same brand for their entire lives. Dietary requirements often shift and change based on activity level, age, allergies, or medical diagnoses. There are some telltale signs to look for that could indicate that you need to make a switch.
One of the most significant indicators that you need to switch dog food comes with GI disturbances. Loose stools, excessive gas, or blood in the stool can be an indication of food intolerance. Make sure to rule out any medical issues before switching, but a simple food change can solve many GI issues.
If your dog’s skin begins to flake into their coat, it is a sign that they aren’t getting the right amount of essential fatty acids in their diet. Fatty acids are necessary to improve the look and feel of your pet’s skin and coat. Look for high-quality dog food that contains higher amounts of Omega-3s and Omega-6s.
Overweight or Obese
If you start noticing that your dog is looking quite hefty, it is time for a dietary change. While it is tempting to cut portions, you may be doing more harm than good. Your dog still requires essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins to thrive. Instead, switch to a formulation specifically for weight loss. The food is not as calorie-dense, but they are still going to provide everything your dog needs to stay healthy and happy.
Fleas may not be causing that scratching. When dogs are experiencing a food allergy, their skin may get irritated, red, and itchy. Common allergies include grains like wheat and barley. Low-allergen foods, like grain-free dog food, are available that can help or eliminate itchy skin.
Your Dog Is 5-7 Years Old
When your dog has aged about 5-7 years old, you may want to consider changing their food to one formulated for older dogs. Senior formulations are fortified with more fiber, fewer calories, and often contain supplements like glucosamine for joint health. While there are no specific AAFCO regulations for senior pet food, it is smart to start switching your dog over to ensure they are getting the right nutrition to keep them in good health.
How to Transition Your Dog’s Food
If you have decided to make a dietary switch, it is crucial that you make it a gradual change. Rushing into a new diet can lead to stomach upset for your dog. Try not to change the food too many times, give your dog time to adjust to the new diet. To begin the transition, slowly integrate the new food in with the current diet. Start with ¼ new food, ¾ previous diet. If tolerated for a day or two, increase to half and half. By about a week you should be completely switched over.