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Transitioning to a New Dog Food

As we talk to people about Native® Performance Dog Food, one of the questions we are often asked is how to safely switch your dog to a new food. This is a really good question because of the nature of a high performance food. Since performance foods are very nutrient dense, they do not feed quite the same as many of the traditional products on the market. Performance foods are generally higher in calories and do not contain many of the “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 fewer margins 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 mixing about 20% of the new food with 80% of the old food for the first three days and increasing that by an additional 20% every 3 days after that. This type of schedule has you feeding 100% of the new food by day thirteen and will generally allow your dog’s system to adjust to the new diet without indigestion. You’ll want to make sure you have enough of your old food on hand to last through the transition, so be sure you have six full days of the old food on hand.

Don’t Overfeed
Many dogs have large appetites and will eat as much food as you give them, so you need to be careful not to over feed. 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 these foods 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 or she looks too thin, feed him a little more. If he or she looks like they are carrying too much weight, scale them back a little bit at a time. Your dog may act hungry, but their body condition will tell you different.

Wait for the Payoff
One final thing to keep in mind is that it usually takes anywhere from four to eight weeks to really see the impact of a new food in your dog. Normal signs of improvement like smaller, firmer stools should happen pretty quickly, yet the improvements in skin, coat and endurance take a little longer. You’ll want to give your new food at least a couple of months to see the full effects, however, they’ll be worth it when you and your dog hit the field.

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

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