Watching a dog chow down in an overturned garbage can might tempt us to believe that dogs have iron stomachs. The truth is that dogs actually have very sensitive tummies. Abrupt changes in the kind of food they eat can cause many different gastrointestinal problems. That’s why it’s important to transition your dog to a new food slowly especially if you’re bringing him home from the shelter.
Start with what he knows.
Dogs take comfort in the familiar, so being served a food he knows during his first few days will help him feel more at home in his new house. To start with what he knows, ask the shelter what kind of food your dog has been eating. At Tupelo Lee Humane Society, we typically go with Purina Dog Chow or Purina Puppy chow, but because we rely so heavily on donations, that changes from time to time.
Switch food gradually.
Switching to a new food too abruptly can cause gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting and diarrhea. If you’re bringing your dog home from the shelter, the last thing you want to do is conditioned him to associate his new environment with pain and discomfort. An easy way to gradually introduce your dog to a new food is by using the 20% rule. After feeding him his old food for a while increase the amount of new food you feed him by 20% for five days. So on the first day, your dog’s meals will consist of 80% old food and 20% of his new food. The next day it should be 60% old food and 40% new. You’ll continue this until the only thing he is eating is new food.
If things go wrong.
During this process, it’s important to monitor how your dog is adjusting to his new food. If your dog’s stool is soft or runny, slow down the process. You might have to decrease to 10% new food increments to give him time to adjust. It’s also important to realize that some dogs may never adjust to a new food but that’s okay. Dogs can have intolerances and food allergies just like people do. If your dog doesn’t adjust well to a new food, simply transition him back to his old food and start again with something else. However, if your dog’s stool contains blood or is an unusual color or if your dog has stopped drinking water or is drinking an excessive amount, call your veterinarian. These could be signs of serious digestive issues.
As mentioned earlier, we rely heavily on donations to feed the dogs at the shelter. If you would like to donate there are plenty of ways you can help out. You can bring your donation to the shelter at 2400 South Gloster St. Tupelo, MS 38801 or you can check out our wishlist on Amazon.