Should I change my dog’s diet?
So you’ve just heard about the best dog food ever or maybe you’ve read somewhere that the food your dog is currently eating is a load of rubbish. It’s tempting to rush out, buy the new food, stick the old food in the bin and turn over a new leaf as soon as possible, right? Many of us have been there but before you go rushing in, it’s important to take a breath and consider the most important question: would your dog do better on a different food? For most dogs, the answer starts with how they are currently doing.
As a general rule, as long as your pet is fit and healthy* and you’re both happy with the current food then there’s probably not much to gain from changing right now. Even if the current food has a low nutritional rating, lacklustre ingredients or a bad reputation, the best you can hope for from a change is to get back to where you are now so there’s unlikely to be much benefit from rocking the boat. This is because different dogs will always do better on different types of foods and while the ingredients list allows us to predict which foods are likely to be better for the majority of dogs, there will always be plenty of cases where an individual dog is better suited to one of the lower- rated foods than some higher-rated ones.
* But when we say fit and healthy we mean really fit and really healthy, the way a dog is supposed to be. There are many signs of mild ill health that often get overlooked by owners – things like constant moulting, runny eyes, anal glad problems and so on (see the full list below) so if your dog is exhibiting any of them or, of course, any more pronounced health problems, a dietary change may well help.
A huge proportion of both minor and major health problems develop as a direct result of inappropriate diet. Even when diet isn’t the sole cause, finding the right food can often really help in the management of the condition.
Fortunately, many of the early signs of dietary issues are fairly easy to spot once you know what to look for. Unfortunately though, they are so widespread in the pet population that many dog owners have come to think of them as a normal part of their pets’ lives:
- Digestive upsets: loose motions (often getting looser over the course of the day), excessive or very smelly wind, regular vomiting (particularly after meals).
- Skin/coat problems: itching, bald patches, scurfiness, excessive dandruff, constant moulting, greasy and/or smelly coat.
- Runny eyes
- Bad breath and/or a regular build up of plaque Regular anal gland problems Lethargy
9 times out of 10, all of these problems can be fixed by dietary changes alone so if you spot them you should definitely take a look at the AADF guide to feeding dogs with minor health problems: (https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/dog-feeding-guide)
More developed health problems can also be caused or exacerbated by incorrect diet but in these cases it’s generally best to consult your vet before making any changes.
Other reasons to change
Of course, choosing a dog food isn’t just about health. You may want to change for financial or ethical reasons, for convenience or simply to give your dog a change, all of which are perfectly valid reasons for switching.
Making the change
Once you’ve committed to making a change for whatever reason, it’s essential you do it gradually so that it’s as easy as possible on your four-legged friend’s system. Take a look at our diet changing guide for more tips (link to Changing dog foods – as easy as 1, 2, 3! article)
Author: David Jackson, All About Dog Food