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How to accustom your dog to dry food

Evgenia Guseva
Evgenia Guseva
Veterinary nutritionist
How to accustom your dog to dry food

How and why you should switch your pet to dry food

Dog owners are frequently faced with the need to transition their pet to a dry ready-made ration. This begs numerous questions, such as how to properly transition your dog to a new type of food and what measures to take. Let's figure this out together.

 So, when should you introduce your dog to dry food? 

  • A balanced diet is essential. It is difficult for the owner to grasp and calculate the levels of macro- and micronutrients on their own.
  • Convenience for the owner. In modern times, not all owners have the opportunity to prepare natural food for their pets, to allocate time for this, but everyone wants to take care of the health of the pet.
  • Health Condition. When a dog is diagnosed with a gastrointestinal condition, a skin disorder, an obesity problem, or other issues, nutritional therapy is an important part of the recovery process.  More often than not, ready-made veterinary diets are used in such cases.
  • Traveling. It's usually easier to bring ready-made food during traveling, calculate the amount of servings each trip, and store it in a container. It is fairly simple!

When selecting dry food, consider the dog's physiological state and demands, which vary depending on age, weight, breed, level of exercise, and other factors.  All of these details are taken into account by the BOWL WOW feed programs. Depending on the size of the dog, you can get food for a puppy, an adult, or any breed.

Don't forget to provide your pet with fresh and clean water readily available.

Contraindications for switching to dry food

Feeding dry food to your pet is not recommended:

  • during the recuperation period following gastrointestinal surgery; 
  • in cases of difficulties and pain caused by self-feeding (ulcers in the oral cavity and diseases of the teeth and gums).

Reasons for dry food rejection

Sometimes when switching to dry food, the dog refuses to eat it. Most of the time, this is due to health issues, negative associations (for example, the food was supplied while the pet was in hospital and had unpleasant operations and treatment), taste habits such as eating treats and things from the table, or an inefficient transfer process.

How to accustom your dog to dry food

Most importantly, it should happen smoothly. Both when switching from natural feed and when changing the ready-made industrial diet.

Switching to ready-made food is different for puppies and adult dogs, so let's look at this separately.

Switching to dry food for your puppy

Babies are nourished early in their lives by breast milk. To begin, transition your puppy to his mother's ready-made food, which is meant for pregnant and lactating females. In this case, the diet will be safe for the baby and will provide all of its nutrient needs. The puppy may find it challenging to eat the pellets while it is still very small (4-6 weeks old).  In this situation, soak the feed by immersing it in warm water (up to 40 degrees Celsius).  This way the pup will gradually get used to the pelleted food while chewing it.

When the puppies reach a certain age, they are usually placed in a new home. Ideally, it will be fed the same food there, but this is not always the case; the new owner will introduce a different diet. 

In such a circumstance, you should adhere to the following guidelines: 

  • The puppy should be switched to the chosen food no sooner than 10 days after the puppy has been in the house; it already has a lot of stress, and then there is the change of food.
  • Inquire with the breeder about the diet the dog has been eating and gently transition from the old to the new food over a 5-7 day period.

Switching to dry food for adult dogs

An adult pet's food is gradually adjusted over a period of 7-10 days. Why is this important?

This seamless transition period will assist the body in adjusting to the altered composition and nutrient content of the diet, particularly the pancreas. After all, it is this organ that secretes all of the enzymes required for protein, lipid, and carbohydrate breakdown, such as amylase, protease, lipase, and others. This will also aid the pet's adaptation to the new pellet shape, texture, and flavor.

The following transition approach is recommended: 

Day 1: 90% old feed + 10% new feed

Day 2: 80% old feed + 20% new feed

Day 3: 70% old feed + 30% new feed

Day 4: 60% old feed + 40% new feed

Day 5: 50% old feed + 50% new feed

Day 6: 40% old feed + 60% new feed

Day 7: 30% old feed + 70% new feed

Day 8: 20% old feed + 80% new feed

Day 9: 10% old feed + 90% new feed

Day 10: 100% new feed

This arrangement can be shortened to 7 days. It is also used for puppies.

The daily requirement for each pet is calculated based on its weight, the ration can be found on the package of food.

For puppies, however, the requirement is calculated based on the expected weight as an adult. It is acceptable to feed the pups ad libitum, but do not forget to check the recommendations.

Supplements for a comfortable transition to a dry diet

I also recommend probiotic supplements for puppies during the transfer of diet to avoid probable clinical signs such as increased gas or changes in stool quality.

Sometimes when switching to ready-made food, a pet may simply refuse to eat it. This is often due to illness or the dog's taste preferences. If this is the case, use additional additives to enhance the flavor and help your pet like the new food. Such supplements can be probiotic preparations with chicken liver hydrolysate, as well as chopped tripe or wet food (either the food itself or gravy or jelly can be used). Such supplements should not be administered in large quantities, 1-3 grams per day is sufficient. Simply sprinkle on top of food and offer to your pet.

If you use wet food, it is better to opt for the same brand as the dry food or a super-premium product. 

If wet food is used, it should definitely be factored into the daily calorie requirement. For example, if your pet needs to get 300 kcal per day, 200 kcal can come with dry food and the remaining 100 kcal with wet food.

This is an important factor that you will take into account to prevent your pet from becoming overweight.

Maintain your dogs' health, feed them a balanced diet, and transition them to the new food carefully!