Like people, your pooch is likely to love a bit of variety in his or her diet. Whether you’re thinking about introducing a different flavour, a different texture, or a new brand entirely, some diversity can make meal times more exciting and fun for everyone.
However, it’s important to remember that your little pal’s digestive system isn’t as robust as you may think. Despite his or her penchant for chewing dirty boots, licking odd surfaces and sniffing some pretty unpleasant things, dogs can be quite sensitive to a significant dietary change – so it’s important to consult a dog feeding guide or dog feeding plan when introducing something entirely new.
Here are my top tips when it comes to changing your dog’s feeding:
1. Always follow the guidelines
Every pack of Australian dog food should have specific guidelines about how and when to feed your dog. On Nature’s Gift Nourish semi-moist dog food, for instance, you’ll find the feeding guide on the side of the pack, as shown in this image.
As you can see, the amount you should feed is broken into categories (small, medium, large and x-large), with a corresponding weight and number of recommended cups.
It’s also important to remember that the amount your dog needs is based on its age, activity level, breed and its environment. So, if you’re unsure whether or not these guidelines are suitable for your particular dog, or if your dog is currently under or overweight, consult your vet.
2. Introduce small amounts gradually
If you’re thinking of introducing a new brand of food – for instance, if you’re trying Nature’s Gift for the first time, or if you usually feed your dog one type of food (such as dry dog food) and want to introduce wet dog food or fresh dog food, it’s important to do so gradually – ideally, over a week.
Start by serving up whatever food your pooch currently enjoys, and then top with just a very small amount of the new food (even just half to one teaspoon should be enough). Monitor your dog for any tummy upsets or issues.
If all progresses smoothly, you can then gradually decrease the percentage of the “old” food and increase the percentage of the new food over the course of the week.
3. Don’t introduce any other changes at the same time
So that you can monitor your dog’s response to the new food, don’t introduce any other new products during the week that you’re switching brands or food types. Doing so may make it difficult to determine what exactly is upsetting your dog’s digestive system if he or she does experience any issues.
4. Don’t over-feed your pooch!
Over-feeding can very quickly lead to weight gain in dogs.
It’s important to remember that – for each percentage – you’re following the manufacturer’s guidelines as to how much to feed your dog proportionally. So, for instance, if you’re serving a meal that’s 60% dry food and 40% wet food, only serve up 60% of your dog’s recommended serving size for the dry dog food, and then only 40% for the wet food.
Always keep track of your dog’s body weight and ensure he or she isn’t gaining too much weight. If this is occurring, it’s likely you’re feeding too much.
5. Stop if your dog doesn’t respond well
If you find your dog has a stomach upset from one particular type of new food, discontinue feeding it and gradually try an alternate flavour that may be more suitable for your dog.
If at any stage your dog loses their appetite, appears lethargic, develops vomiting/diarrhoea, or appears unwell in any way, please contact your nearest vet as soon as possible.
A few fun dog feeding ideas
Once your pet is used to a new type of food, you may want to offer your pet combinations of different foods regularly. For instance, you may wish to top Nature’s Gift Sustain dry dog food with a diced Deli Roll – both of which offer complete and balanced nutrition for your pooch. Or you might want to combine Nourish, Nature’s Gift semi-moist kibble, with some Nature’s Gift Meatballs, which are ready to serve straight from the fridge. Or, you might want to combine Nature’s Gift Sustain dry dog food with a Nature’s Gift Meal Time Loaf Can.
As Nature’s Gift has such a vast range, there are all sorts of great combinations you can try. It’s important to be aware that all of Nature’s Gift’s dry food, wet food and fresh dog food offers complete and balanced nutrition, so are fine to be served on their own or in combination (provided the proportions are correct!)
If you’re after some great meal suggestions, check out Nature’s Gift’s weekly meal plan for your dog.
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, post-graduate small animal specialist qualifications, 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 has 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, The Circle, Breakfast, Ten News, The Nine Network’s Mornings, Studio 10, Today Extra, Kyle and Jackie O, and is a regular contributor to Houzz.com 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 three children Hudson, Darcie and Spencer, and their two cavalier cross poodles, Nelson and Lucas.