How to Switch Dog Food? 10 Days Transition Formula

Kevin Bischof Written By Kevin Bischof

Switching your dog’s food is not as simple as replacing the old brand with a new one overnight. A dog’s digestive system is sensitive, and abrupt changes in diet can lead to discomfort, upset stomach, or more serious health issues.

To ensure a smooth and safe transition for your furry friend, it’s crucial to follow a systematic approach. The “10 Days Transition Formula” offers a carefully structured method to introduce new dog food while minimizing the risk of digestive problems.

Reasons for Changing Dog Foods

Common motivations for changing dog foods can range from health-related issues, such as allergies or sensitivities, to age-appropriate dietary adjustments, like transitioning from puppy to adult or senior dog formulas. Additionally, improvements in nutritional quality, ingredient preferences (such as moving to grain-free or limited-ingredient diets), and even budgetary considerations can prompt pet owners to explore new food options.

It’s also not uncommon for pet owners to switch foods if their dog shows signs of disinterest in their current meals or responds to recommendations from veterinarians for specific health conditions. Understanding these reasons can help ensure that the transition to a new dog food is made for the right reasons, ultimately contributing to the overall well-being and satisfaction of your canine companion.

Switch Dog Food

Photo by M Burke on Unsplash


One of the most pivotal reasons for changing dog foods is the age of your canine companion. Puppies require diets rich in calories and specific nutrients to support rapid growth and development. Adult dogs, on the other hand, need a balanced diet to maintain their health, energy levels, and ideal body weight. As dogs enter their senior years, they often require fewer calories due to decreased activity levels but may need more support for joint health and digestion.


Specific health issues, such as allergies, sensitivities, obesity, diabetes, kidney or heart disease, can necessitate a diet change to a formula better suited to manage or alleviate these conditions. For instance, a dog with food allergies may require a switch to a limited-ingredient diet to identify and eliminate the allergen. In contrast, a dog suffering from obesity might benefit from a weight management formula.


Weight management is a critical reason for changing a dog’s food, emphasizing the need for a diet that aligns with their health and lifestyle requirements. Dogs that are overweight or underweight face a higher risk of health problems, including joint issues, diabetes, and heart disease.

Why can’t I just give my dog a new food?

Transitioning your dog to a new food isn’t as simple as just replacing their current meal with a new one overnight. Dogs have sensitive digestive systems, and abrupt changes in their diet can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite.

Such sudden switches can also cause stress to your dog’s metabolic processes, leading to difficulty in adapting to new nutrients and possibly rejecting the food altogether. A gradual transition, typically over 7-10 days, allows your dog’s digestive system to adjust slowly to the new food’s different nutrient levels and ingredients. This method involves mixing increasing amounts of the new food with decreasing amounts of the old food until the switch is complete.

This careful approach helps minimize digestive issues, ensuring that the change is as smooth and comfortable as possible for your pet. It’s a practice that underscores the importance of patience and understanding your dog’s nutritional health when considering a diet change.

How to Switch Dog Food?

A gradual transition is essential when switching your dog’s food to ensure their digestive system can comfortably adjust to the new diet. This process typically spans over 7 to 10 days, starting with mixing a small amount of the new food with the old food. Gradually, you increase the proportion of the new food while decreasing the old food at each meal. This slow integration helps prevent gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhoea or vomiting, by giving your dog’s digestive enzymes time to adapt to the new food’s composition.

  • Days 1 to 2: (75% Current – 25% New ) Begin the transition by mixing a larger portion of the current food with a smaller amount of the new food. Specifically, feed your dog their usual meal but replace 25% of their current food with the new food. This means if you typically give your dog 1 cup of food, you’ll mix 0.75 cups of the current food with 0.25 cups of the new food. This slight change introduces your dog’s system to the new diet without overwhelming it, minimizing the risk of digestive upset.
  •  Days 3 to 4: ( 50% Current – 50% New ) Increase the ratio to an even split between the old and new foods. By serving half the current food and half the new food, you’re allowing your dog’s digestive enzymes and gut microbiota to further adapt to the new diet. This equal mix helps balance the introduction of new nutrients and flavours, making the dietary shift more palatable and digestible for your dog.
  •  Days 5 to 7: ( 25% Current – 75% New ) Shift the balance in favour of the new food. At this stage, you’ll feed your dog 75% of the new food mixed with 25% of the old food. This progression not only accustoms your dog’s digestive system to the new food’s primary composition but also begins to phase out the old diet almost entirely. It’s an essential step in ensuring that your dog is receiving the intended nutritional benefits of the new food while still allowing for any final adjustments needed.
  •  Days 8 to 10: ( 100% New )Complete the transition to the new food. By this point, your dog should be ready to entirely switch over to the new diet without experiencing gastrointestinal issues. Serving only the new food solidifies the change and allows your dog to benefit from the new diet’s nutritional profile fully. Observing your dog closely during this final phase is crucial to ensure they are accepting the new food well and not showing signs of digestive discomfort.

Do You Have Golden Retrievers ? Check our Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers post.

Troubleshooting When Switching Dog Foods

Dog Can Refuse the New Diet

If your dog refuses the new diet during the transition, it’s a common challenge that requires patience and strategy to overcome. Initially, ensure that the refusal isn’t due to the food’s palatability or freshness—dogs can be discerning about the taste and smell of their food. Mixing a small amount of something highly palatable to your dog, such as a bit of wet food, broth (without onions or garlic), or a sprinkle of their favourite treat crushed into powder, with the new food, can help make it more appealing.

Also, consider the presentation and ensure the food is at room temperature to enhance its aroma. Consistency is critical, so try offering the new mix at the same time and place as usual to keep a routine. If refusal persists, it might be worth reevaluating the choice of new food, as it could be an indicator of a mismatch in taste preference or digestive discomfort.

Dog Can Develop Mild Diarrhea

When your dog develops mild diarrhoea during a food transition, it’s a sign that their digestive system may be struggling to adapt to the new diet. This is relatively common and can often be managed with a few adjustments. First, ensure the transition to the new food is gradual enough; slowing down the process can help their digestive system adjust more comfortably. Incorporating easily digestible, bland foods like boiled chicken and rice for a short period can also soothe their stomach and firm up stools.

Adding a small amount of plain pumpkin (not the pie filling) to their diet can provide the fibre that helps normalize bowel movements. It’s essential to keep your dog hydrated, as diarrhoea can lead to dehydration.

Dog Can Become Gassy

If your dog becomes gassy after switching to a new food, it’s often an indication that their digestive system is adjusting to the change in diet. This can be a normal response to different ingredients or a higher fibre content in the new food.

To mitigate this issue, ensure that the transition to the new diet is gradual, allowing your dog’s digestive system ample time to adapt to the new formula. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals can also help reduce gas by putting less stress on the digestive system at any one time.

Bonus Tip

Choose a quiet time for the transition, avoiding periods of stress or change in routine, which can affect your dog’s eating habits. Encourage patience and persistence, as some dogs may take longer to adjust to new flavours or textures.

Author: Kevin Bischof
Kevin Bischof
Kevin Bischof is a doctoral student at Istanbul University, dedicated to advancing his knowledge and expertise in his chosen field. With approximately five years of experience in the realm of animal nutrition research, he has demonstrated a commitment to understanding the complexities of nutritional needs in the animal kingdom. His academic pursuits at Istanbul University reflect a passion for contributing to the scientific understanding of animal nutrition, potentially making a positive impact on the well-being and health of various species.

Leave a Comment