Puppies grow quickly and have special nutritional needs to keep their bodies strong. The most noticeable time is known as the rapid growth stage, which occurs between 2 and 6 months of age. From about 3 to 6 months, most pups will lose their puppy teeth (you might find a tooth near his dish or on the floor; this is normal).
During this phase, his mouth and gums may be very sensitive, which could cause him to be a bit picky when it comes to eating. There's nothing you can do except to wait it out, even if his appetite is low for a couple of days.
Don't switch to a new formula to stimulate your puppy's appetite. Changing food at this time can cause additional stress and intestinal upset. The tips below could help your puppy make the change:
- Mix his regular, premium dry food with a premium canned puppy food to soften the dry food and make mealtime even more appealing. Or, try some moist food to help him through this sensitive period.
- Soak dry food in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Feeding a dry food and biscuits loosens the teeth, so pups can get through the teething process quicker. If his appetite loss persists, see your veterinarian before you switch food.
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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