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Switching my Dog Menu

Introducing your dog to new food

Life is always changing, and so too are the nutritional needs of your dog.

This may be because your dog is entering a new life-stage, like moving from being a puppy to an adult, or perhaps you have adopted a new dog and are introducing him to new food. There are also health reasons for a change of diet that your vet may recommend.

Whatever the reason, there are some simple tricks you can implement to help your dog transition to a new food, and to make it an enjoyable and enriching experience for both of you. It can also be educational moment – it can encourage your dog’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm, and even help deepen the connection between the two of you.

Let’s look at the different nutritional needs for different types of dogs so you know what to feed your pet depending on his life-stage, and then we’ll look at some transition tips.

How to fit your dog’s nutritional needs

Whatever your dog’s stage in life, he needs a complete and balanced diet that is specifically tailored to him. Your vet will be the best person to discuss your dog’s nutritional needs with, but here is a quick rundown on what constitutes a complete and balanced diet for a dog’s different life-stages.

Puppies need a diet that specifically supports this period of their life when they are growing so fast. Although energy requirements do vary with breed, newly weaned puppies need approximately twice as much energy per kilogram of bodyweight compared to adult dogs. As a result, adult dog food will not meet a puppy’s nutritional requirements or support his rapid growth.

Ensuring that your puppy is fed a variety of different flavours and types of food can also be beneficial, as it may help prevent him from becoming a fussy eater as an adult. It’s a great idea to include wet and dry foods in their diet. And because of their small stomachs, you’ll need to feed your puppy more often – up to 6 meals a day!

Adult dogs have stopped growing but they still need a complete and balanced diet that contains all the required nutrients in the right amounts. It should be designed to meet their energy requirements and lifestyle, and tailored to their life-stage. This is particularly important around life events such as neutering, pregnancy or lactation.

Unlike a puppy, your adult dog doesn’t need as many meals a day – two is enough. If your dog is an enthusiastic eater, he might benefit from a mix of wet and dry foods. For instance, wet food is far less calorie dense than dry food, so you can increase your dog’s portion without increasing his calorie intake. In any case, before making any change in your dog’s diet, we recommend you talk to your vet.

Large breed dogs and senior dogs also need diets that are tailored to suit them.

The diet for large breeds, should take into consideration their size, age, lifestyle and life-stage. It should be formulated particularly to support joint health and a healthy bodyweight.    

Senior dogs generally have lower energy requirements than young dogs, so they need fewer calories in their diet. Of course, the requirements of your older dog will be dependent on their specific lifestyle too. Older dogs that still enjoy long walks and are very active will need more energy than dogs that have become more sedentary in their older age.

Whatever your dog’s life-stage, it’s important that your dog’s food is palatable - uneaten food obviously has no nutritional value! 

Perfect Fit tips to help your dog switch to new food


When to transition a puppy to adult food

Different sizes of dogs grow at different rates and become adult at different times. But as a general rule, a toy breed dog (weighing 1 to 10 kilograms at adulthood), like a Yorkshire Terrier or a Dachshund, is fully grown in less than a year, whereas a giant breed, like a Great Dane or a Newfoundland, can take almost two years to achieve its adult size.

And even when your puppy reaches his adult bodyweight, he is still growing and developing andis not quite considered an adult for some time.

The age at which your dog is considered to be an adult - and the general optimal rate of growth for all dogs - is a controversial research area. The following table illustrates the approximate rates of growth for different breed sizes.


Percentage of adult weight

Age in months

Small & medium breeds mature weight


Large breeds

mature weight


Giant breeds

mature weight















































Table 1: Recommendations for growth rates of various sizes of dogs. Adapted from NRC (2006). (1Kg=2.2lbs)

Source: The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition. https://www.waltham.com/resources/

Transitioning your dog to new food

Whether you have a puppy, a newly adopted dog, or an adult dog entering a new life-stage, there are a number of ways you can help make the transition to a new food as smooth and easy as possible for him, and a positive experience.

Firstly, take it slow. Your dog might need time to adapt to this change in routine.

Even if your dog seems to take to new food easily, it’s important to give his digestive system time to adapt to a new food.

Start by introducing small amounts of the new food as part of their regular food over a period of approximately five to seven days.

You can begin by replacing 20% of your dog’s regular food with the new food and mix them together. Gradually increase the ratio of new food to regular food until you are feeding your dog 100% of the new food.

Always ensure your dog has access to clean drinking water through the transition.

What if my dog doesn’t like the new food?

Some dogs will take time to adapt to the taste of new food. If your dog is leaving food in his bowl, but is healthy and maintaining his weight, there is a simple strategy to encourage him to eat the new food.

If your dog leaves food in his bowl, take it away for two hours before presenting it again. If he doesn’t touch it within ten minutes remove it again. Repeat these steps if necessary and don’t give your dog any other food during this time.

He will quickly understand that the only food he is going to get is the food in his bowl and if he is hungry he will eat.

Of course, monitor his weight and general health while he is going through the transition and if you have any concerns always speak with your vet.

He is what you feed him

Apart from being essential to his well-being and survival, eating tasty food is also one of life’s great pleasures for your dog.

As a result, feeding is an opportunity to really build trust with your dog, especially through a period of transition.

He learns that you are taking care of his most basic needs, and also, that he is able to adapt to these new experiences you present him with, and that they can be fun and enjoyable.

It all begins with feeding your dog a diet that is complete, balanced, nutritious, palatable, and suited to their life-stage. And when life changes and you need to transition your dog to a new food, you do it with positivity and patience and love. Your dog will adapt, and his feeding will continue to be one of the highlights of the day, for both of you!



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