What is Diet Change?
If your dog is suffering from a condition related to the food they are eating, then a change of diet will be in order. Although there are multiple conditions that may necessitate a change in diet, the method of actually exchanging one food for another and convincing the dog to eat it is typically consistent.
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Diet Change Procedure in Dogs
Typically, your vet will recommend simply adding or removing different foods to and from your dog's food bowl and keep a diary of what works and what doesn't. This will allow you to narrow down the responsible ingredient in the case of allergies or irritation. However, if this is not effective, then it could be indicative of an underlying health problem. If this is the case, then the vet will perform a battery of tests including a blood panel, urinalysis or even an endoscopy (visual inspection of the bowel via camera).
If there is not a more serious underlying condition (which may require treatment via antibiotics or other drugs), then your vet will probably be able to give a more concrete recommendation on exactly how to change your dog's eating habits.
When changing the food you are serving to your dog, it is important to bear several things in mind. First is the fact that many dogs may view new foods with a degree of suspicion and refuse to eat. Second is the issue of your dog needing time to adjust to new foodstuffs in order to comfortably digest them. This is especially true if you are switching from a diet of dry food to something with more liquid content. In order to circumvent both of these problems, it is often best to make the change incrementally over several days - gradually swapping out more and more of the old food for the new.
Efficacy of Diet Change in Dogs
Generally speaking, if a dog's condition is being caused or exacerbated by a certain ingredient in their diet, then simply removing the offending component will yield immediate results. Additionally, symptoms should not be expected to present themselves again unless the offending food is reintroduced into their diet. Other causes (such as parasites) may take more time and additional treatment methods to eliminate, and could potentially resurface due to environmental conditions (such as drinking from a contaminated water source).
Diet Change Recovery in Dogs
For most diet-based conditions, it will not be necessary to schedule any follow-up visits to the vet once the symptoms have abated. However, it may be wise to maintain a food journal for your dog, just in case the problems should resurface.
It may take time to see weight loss results or improvements in health conditions treated with nutritional changes. Your vet may wish to follow-up at regular intervals to monitor your dog’s condition with lab work and physical exams.
Cost of Diet Change in Dogs
Prepared prescription dog foods can cost between $2 and $5 per pound or more, compared to $0.50 to $3 per pound for typical commercial dog foods. Although the cost of high-quality dog food can be comparatively higher than refined products, some of the cost can be avoided by opting for home-cooked solutions when recommended by your vet. By preparing their dog's food themselves, some owners are better able to provide adequate nutrition and exercise control over what ingredients their dog is eating.
Dog Diet Change Considerations
Although there is very little chance of a dog developing two dietary problems in succession (if receiving good quality nutrition), there are some risk factors to be aware of when owners are changing their dog's diet. Firstly, bear in mind that rapidly changing from one type of food to another can cause indigestion and even vomiting - this is especially true if the texture of the food is radically different. Additionally, if opting to prepare your dog's food yourself, carefully follow your vet’s recommendations to be sure incorporate appropriate sources of nutrition, avoid dangerous foods, and use safe preparation methods.
Diet Change Prevention in Dogs
Keeping a close eye on what your dog eats will help mitigate several problems with their food intake if and when they should arise. Also, providing a variety of foodstuffs that contain the proper nutritional components of a healthy dog’s diet will prevent many health problems. Finally, responding quickly to digestive discomfort and associated problems will help with avoiding complications and ensuring a good quality of life for your dog.