NutriSource Blogs

How to transition your dog to a new better brand of food (without tummy upset)

November 14, 2022

Are you and your dog ready for a change in food, but worried about stomach upset? Switching from a low-cost supermarket brand to a premium brand can happen faster and more easily than you think. While many feeding guides advise pet parents to go slow to avoid gastrointestinal upset, it simply isn’t needed when you choose the right diet. The keys to a shorter adjustment period are brands that focus on restoring gut health.

In the following, we’ll discuss:

  • Reasons to switch foods
  • Why the quality of dog food matters
  • What to look for in a high-quality dog food
  • How to switch from a bargain brand to a premium brand of dog food

Can you and should you switch your dog’s food?

Pet parents switch their dog’s food for a variety of reasons.

  • Life stage, such as transitioning from puppy to a lower calorie adult recipe, or from an adult diet to a senior diet
  • Weight loss for overweight pets
  • To treat health issues such as diabetes, pancreatitis or kidney disease, which can call for a prescription diet

But a core reason for switching is to solve an issue with your dog. If your dog is showing some of these symptoms but is otherwise healthy, they may benefit from a switch to a higher-quality diet.

  • Excess paw licking
  • Itchy coat
  • Excess shedding
  • Dull coat
  • Foul breath
  • Digestion issues (runny stools)
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Frequently compacted anal glands
  • Yeasty scent that doesn’t go away after a bath

Once you switch to a brand with higher-quality ingredients and advanced nutritional concepts, you’ll notice a big change in your pet.

Does the quality of dog food matter?

In a word, yes. Cheaper supermarket brands tend to use filler ingredients like corn and generic meat byproducts to add bulk and save money. But low prices can come at a cost to your dog’s well-being.

  • Over time, dogs can develop sensitivities to ingredients, particularly if they’re eating the exact same food all the time. Canine diets require a variety of protein and carb sources.
  • Generic meat byproducts are an indicator of low quality, meaning they may lack actual meat and nutrients, so your dog isn’t getting the nutrition they need.
  • Bioavailability is also an important tie-in because if your dog isn’t fully digesting the food, they’re not getting nutritional value and that means you get more waste to pick up in the backyard.

When you’re looking for the absolute best food for your dog, you want ingredients that provide functional nutrition. However, inexpensive brands often use filler to add bulk to dog food and to save money on the high-quality stuff. These fillers can cause irritation in your pet and offer less value for your money because you’re not getting the high-quality, nutrient-dense protein your pet craves.

Corn as filler in dog food

To disguise the fact that corn is a primary ingredient, pet food manufacturers use different varieties of corn products: corn bran, flaked corn, and ground corn. Remember, ingredients on a label are listed in descending order of quantity. By including varieties of the same food source, the dog food manufacturer can disguise the fact that corn is a primary ingredient.

Generic meat labels

Generic meats are another inexpensive filler used to fill out and flavor dog food. When the label excludes the name of the specific animal protein, it’s a surefire sign that quality is lacking. Generic meat is a way to hide the fact that the dog food manufacturer used inferior protein sources.

  • Generic byproducts come from animal carcasses that are already processed of meat. If they’re not named, they likely contain precious little meat and even less nutritional content.
  • Rendered fat enhances the flavor in dog food, but again, unless a specific source is called out on the label, it’s a signal that it comes from more highly processed lesser quality fat source.

What should you look for when buying dog food?

Now that you know what types of ingredients diminish the quality of your dog’s dinner, here are some things to look for when switching to a high-quality pet food.

High-quality protein

Dogs crave meat because their bodies are made to digest it, and it has essential amino acids to build their cellular systems. For that reason, the first ingredients should name animal proteins.

Heirloom grains

Complex carbohydrates from grain sources provide the energy your dog needs to explore, sniff and play. If your dog has developed a sensitivity to corn, you can choose from several canine-friendly grains that provide fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids for whole body health — without triggering the itchy symptoms. Look for: Quinoa, millet, buckwheat middlings, spelt, and barley.

Bottom line on the ingredients label. Look for thoughtfully chosen ingredients to create a satiating, nutrient-dense meal for your dog.

How to switch from bargain dog food to premium

Most dog feeding guides will advise you to go slow when switching brands. As you keep watch over your dog’s response, slowly increase the ratio of new-to-old food. Abrupt changes do cause stomach upset in some dogs.

However, most pet parents report their dog has zero issues switching from a bargain brand to NutriSource Element.

But you know your dog best. When switching from a bargain brand to Element, you can either:

  • Start fresh by switching from the bargain brand to Element — no transitions needed.
  • Or, if you’re feeling cautious, mix a small amount of Element with the old food for the first two feedings before you complete the transition.

Gut health is key to a successful transition

So how is it possible to switch from a cheap supermarket brand to Element with minimal tummy upset? In addition to high-quality food ingredients, NutriSource Element has advanced nutritional concepts — Good 4 Life plus and NVGEN — that go to work right away restoring your dog’s gut health and reducing tummy upset.

  • Good 4 Life plus is our system of probiotics and prebiotics and other nutritional systems that support microbiome and gut health. In the short term, these enhance your dog’s ability to digest food. In the long term, better gut health reduces that inflammation response, the source of your dog’s itchy skin, and enhances your dog’s ability to fight infection.
  • NVGEN is our advanced system. In the short term, it removes pathogens from the gut to improve food absorption and reduce gastrointestinal distress. Because it also provides amino acid nutrition (building blocks of our cellular machinery) through yeast extracts, your dog builds a healthy body from nose to tail — softer coat, comfortable skin, and lots of energy.

Put your dog in their element

Dogs are truly in their element when you serve up a hearty meal packed with animal protein because as they instinctively know, meat has important elements their body needs to thrive. NutriSource Element Series recipes start with the premium sourced meat that entices their appetites. But only Element perfects nature’s intention with cutting-edge nutrition concepts that restore gut health and optimize digestion of this high-protein diet.

Spending locally builds strong communities, so shop for NutriSource Element Series at your neighborhood pet supplier.