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Introducing new foods to your pet: slow and steady

We rarely eat the same meal from one night to the next, and so it’s tempting to want to provide the same level of variety for our pets.

However, when it comes to your pooch, too much variety – too soon – can sometimes have negative consequences. According to Dr Lisa Chimes, one of the most common causes of digestive upset in a dog is a sudden change in a brand or type of food.

Nevertheless, some variety can be great and very enjoyable for dogs – as long as the transition is managed properly. Here are some tips for doing so:


Introduce new foods gradually

Dr Chimes recommends making any dietary changes slowly and consistently, over a seven-day period.

“If you’re changing to a new diet, mix your dog’s existing food with a small amount of their new food,” she says.

“As each day passes, gradually increase the new food and decrease the old food until your dog is being fed only the new food by the seventh day.”


Only make one change at a time

While you’re introducing a new food, don’t make any other changes to your dog’s diet, recommends Dr Chimes.

“That way you can monitor how they are responding to their new diet, and easily pinpoint if something isn’t working,” she says.


Mix new textures slowly too

The same principle applies when mixing dry food, chilled food or wet food options within the one brand – such as Nature’s Gift.

“If you are happy with your existing dry food, but would like to introduce toppers with chilled or wet food, do so slowly,” says Dr Chimes.

A ‘topper’ could be wet food, a diced chilled roll or some chilled meatballs – all of which add taste, variety and fresh meat to your dog’s diet.

“Start off with mixing in a small amount of a topper (for example, a half to one teaspoon) into their dry food on day one. Gradually increase the amount of the topper while reducing the amount of dry food over seven days. This will help to avoid over-feeding and minimises the risk of digestive upset,” Dr Chimes adds.

Keep in mind that if you are ‘mixed feeding’ like this, the dry food should make up the majority of your dog’s diet, while the topper is a tasty addition to enhance the flavour. If you find your dog has a stomach upset from one particular topper, discontinue feeding it and gradually try an alternate flavour that may be more suitable for your dog.


Keep an eye on your four-legged friend

When transitioning food, always keep an eye on your dog and check for any reactions.

If at any stage your dog loses its appetite, appears lethargic, develops vomiting/diarrhoea, or appears unwell in any way, please contact your nearest vet as soon as possible.

Also, be conscious of your dog’s overall portion sizes. Keep track of your pooch’s body weight and ensure it’s not gaining weight – which could mean too much feeding.

Always follow the feeding guidelines on the pack of each individual food and feed your dog according to their ideal body weight (as advised by your vet).



About Dr Lisa Chimes

Dr Lisa Chimes is one of Australia’s most well-known vets and a proud ambassador for Real Pet Foods Company.

She has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and extensive experience working as an emergency and critical-care veterinarian at Sydney’s Small Animal Specialist Hospital.

A familiar face in many Australian homes, Lisa starred alongside Dr Chris Brown in Bondi Vet, and her own TV program, Dr Lisa to the Rescue, in which she helps find forever homes for rescue dogs. She has also made appearances on Ready Steady Cook, The Project, Ten News, The Nine Network’s Mornings, Studio 10, Today Extra, Kyle and Jackie O, and is a regular contributor to and Mamamia.

Lisa is an accomplished MC and speaker, a supporter of Guide Dogs Australia and a favourite on the pet expo circuit, where she shares her knowledge and animal know-how with fellow animal lovers and industry experts at events such as The Dog Lovers Show.

After the birth of her first child, Lisa saw a need to educate young children on looking after their pets and signed with Penguin Group to release two children’s books: My First Puppy and My First Kitten.

She lives in Sydney with her husband Brad, their four children Hudson, Darcie, Spencer and Lottie and their two cavalier cross poodles, Nelson and Lucas.