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Transitioning To A New Dog Food

Changing To A New Food
As we talk to people about Native® performance dog food, one question we are often asked is how to safely switch your dog to a new food. The answer is particularly important due to the nature of a high performance food. Performance foods are very nutrient dense since they don’t contain “filler” type ingredients like corn, wheat, soy and by-products. They are formulated to enhance the performance of a very active dog, but they leave a smaller margin for error with regard to feeding quantity. The following are a few important points to keep in mind when considering a switch to a performance food.

Change Should Be Gradual
Because dogs are consistently fed the same diet, it can be hard on their digestive system to change foods too suddenly. When you make a change to your dog’s diet, you should do it gradually by mixing progressively smaller quantities of the current food with larger quantities of the new food. We generally recommend a schedule like the following:

  •  Days 1-3: Mix 20% of the new food with 80% of the old food
  •  Days 4-6: Mix 40% of the new food with 60% of the old food
  •  Days 7-9: Mix 60% of the new food with 40% of the old food
  •  Days 10-12: Mix 80% of the new food with 20% of the old food
  •  Day 13: Feed 100% of the new food

This type of schedule should allow your dog to adjust to the new diet without indigestion. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have six days worth of the old food on hand to get you through the transition.

Don’t Overfeed
Many dogs have large appetites and will eat all you feed them so you need to be careful not to overfeed. Obesity, particularly at a young age, can cause serious health issues later in life. We recommend a performance food because your dog will be healthier and perform better, but they do have higher calories so you’ll want to limit feed. While all foods have feeding guidelines on the package, these are really just a starting point. The best way to determine how much food your dog needs is to keep a close eye on body condition. If he looks too thin, feed him a little more. If he looks like he is carrying too much weight, scale him back a little bit at a time. He may act hungry but his body condition will tell you different.

Wait For The Payoff
One final thing to keep in mind is that it usually takes 4-8 weeks to see the full benefit of a new food. Normal signs of improvement like smaller, firmer stools should happen pretty quickly but improvements in skin, coat and endurance take a little longer. You’ll want to give your new food at least a couple months before you evaluate the full effects. A bird dog with more energy and endurance means better hunting and more birds so the end result definitely makes a change worthwhile.

To learn more about Steve Ries and his training methods, visit

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