Can Abruptly Switching a Dog's Food Cause Diarrhea?

by Naomi Millburn
    When dogs have diarrhea, they often seem especially exhausted.

    When dogs have diarrhea, they often seem especially exhausted.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    If you're planning on making any changes to your dog's daily diet, don't ever do it on impulse. Putting together a healthy and well-rounded canine menu requires ample preparation and consideration, along with the permission of a veterinarian. Abrupt switches in your pet's diet can lead to unpleasant digestive distress, after all.

    If you change your dog's food suddenly and out of nowhere, he might experience diarrhea as a result of it, according to Colleen Paige, author of "The Good Behavior Book of Dogs." Sudden dietary switches can disrupt your dog's levels of "flora" -- intestinal bacteria. This disruption, in turn, can interfere with digestion and bring upon tummy upset in canines. When a dog exhibits symptoms such as gas, stomachache and loose, runny bowels after a switch in food, it often signifies that the transition occurred too rapidly.

    The key to changing your pet's food is to do so in a slow manner, advises Julie A. Bjelland, author of "Imagine Life With a Well-Behaved Dog." Purchase his new fare before you run out of his old chow. Then, set aside a few weeks to make the full transition, from start to finish. Begin by putting a small amount of the new food in with the old and familiar stuff. Then, slowly increase how much of the new food you put in with the old each day. In just a little time, your dog will be eating the new food exclusively -- without the shock of experiencing a jarring food switch. If you have any concerns regarding the process of switching your pooch's food, talk to your veterinarian before you begin.

    Diarrhea isn't the only possible negative effect of food switches in canines. Some canines also vomit when they experience food changes. If you notice your pet throwing up, consider his recent menu, whether it involved a switch to a totally different brand of canned chicken or the introduction of a new type of doggie treat. Food transitions can indeed trigger severe and abrupt spells of throwing up in dogs. Just to be sure that the dietary transition is the culprit, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian immediately, however. Note, too, that many other things can bring upon diarrhea in canines apart from speedy food switches. These things include everything from kidney disease and anxiety to bacterial infection and colitis. Only a vet can tell you for certain.

    When it comes to changing your pet's diet, follow your vet's lead. Don't take it upon yourself to make important decisions about your dog's feeding plan. Vets frequently recommend dietary changes in dogs for numerous reasons. When dogs grow older, for example, they often require special foods formulated for seniors. When dogs are overweight, vets also often suggest special prescription weight loss diets, as well. Not only is it important to take your time in switching your dog's nosh, it's also important to get veterinary approval of the new food beforehand.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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