How should I change my dog's food?
Some people will tell you to go ahead and switch cold turkey. However, an abrupt change in your dog's diet, especially from a low to a much higher quality food, can likely cause digestive upset and result in diarrhea.
A much better method is to feed 3/4 portion of your dog's old food and add 1/4 portion of the new for 2-3 days. Then feed half new food and half old food for 2-3 days. Last feed 3/4 new food with 1/4 old food for 2-3 days (or until you are out of old food if not wasting is important to you).
How much should I be feeding my dog?
|Trophy says food is serious business!|
The answer for this is going to be different for each and every dog out there. There are a few factors that you have to consider.
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What does the bag label recommend?
This is going to be a loose fitting guideline to how much your dog should eat. A VERY loose guideline, especially when you take in the factors below.
How active is my dog?
If your dog is older, or has more of a couch potato mentality chances are you're going to need to feed your dog less than what the bag recommends. On the other hand if you and your dog spend hours walking, jogging, running, playing fetch, or participating in a dog sport (or several) chances are good that you will need to feed up to the maximum recommended feeding and perhaps even more.
How high is my dog's metabolism?
This question usually doesn't have an easily diagnosable answer. The best way to find out is through trial and error feeding. If you feed your dog the minimum amount the bag label says and he gains weight, chances are good he has a low metabolism and needs less food (or a food with fewer calories per cup i.e. weight management foods). If you feed him the maximum amount the bag label suggests and he loses weight, he may have a high metabolism and needs more food (or in the same token, a food with more calories per cup, i.e. "performance" foods).
How many calories are in the food I'm feeding?
This is something to keep in mind, especially when you are switching foods. Higher calories in the new food = less food to feed to keep your dog around the same weight, and vice versa.
How much should my dog weigh?
Also, "How do I know if my dog is gaining or losing weight?" Well, short of buying a scale specifically for dog use or running up to the vet clinic several times a week to use theirs, the best way to tell if your dog is overweight is to look at them and to run your hands over their ribs.
Most dogs want to be at a 5 on this scale: "Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed." However, some dogs, especially those with joint issues, may want to be kept skinnier as the less weight they carry around the better it is for their joints. My 3 broken butt dogs I try to keep on the low side of 4.
Facebook has recently shared this image on my facebook wall several times, which is a really neat way to easily compare your dog's ribs to how underweight, overweight, and normal ribs feel.
This is my sister's dog, Koda, to better illustrate what you want to look for when looking for a "waist" and "tuck".
Speaking of Koda, don't be discouraged if your dog needs to loose a few or a lot of pounds. Below I have included a picture of Koda from August 2008 when he weighed an enormous 70 pounds. He was at least an 8 on the BCS score. Through diet changes and a lot more exercise he is back down to an almost too skinny 44 pounds, and is a 4-5 on the BCS scale. :) Also, PUPPY TROPHY! Awww! Trophy was 4 months old in this picture.