How to manage your dog's dietary transition?

You want to change your dog's diet and are wondering how to go about it? Are you unsure about the usefulness and risks involved? Here are some tips to help you make a successful transition.

The end of February heralds the closing of the small game hunting season. At this time of the year, many hunters put their rifles away in their scabbards and only take them out again when the season reopens. For the most part, the dogs also enter a phase of more moderate activity. However, it is necessary that your dog should continue to run in order to expend its energy: indeed, the end of the hunting season should not be synonymous with putting an end to outings for our animals!

This pivotal period, when dogs can go from intense activity to reduced intensity, requires adaptations on the part of owners, particularly in terms of nutrition. It is true that each type of hunting dog, depending on its breed, size, age, time of year, and frequency of exercise, has specific requirements in terms of diet. Similarly, if during the season you decide to switch to another type of food, it is necessary to adopt a transitional phase.

You should not feed your dog the same way before, during, and after the hunting season. To choose the right food for your dog, you need to assess its energy requirements. If your dog is in a period of the year in which it does not exercise excessively, choose low-fat dog food that will maintain its muscle mass. See for example our Adult Regular kibble. If, on the other hand, your dog spends more than 8 hours a week exercising, its energy requirements are high: in this case, choose dog food that is richer in protein and contains more minerals so as to favour its recovery. In this case, our Adult Active or Adult Intense kibbles are the most suitable. The transition to a new diet is something that every pet owner must take into account. This is at the risk of your dog suffering from gastrointestinal problems, digestion problems, diarrhoea, or vomiting, among other things.

#1 Dietary transition in dogs: what are we talking about here?

Even if your dog is used to a type of food that is appropriate for it, there are certain unavoidable moments throughout the year or during its life when your dog may be introduced to a different diet.

It is true that during a hunting season - before, during, and after, as well as during the normal life of a dog - puppy, adult, and ageing dog, a change of diet is almost inevitable. This period of switching from one diet to another should enable your pet to gradually adapt to the new ingredients it is being fed. The need for adapting to this new diet should not be overlooked.

Why change the diet?

There are several possible reasons for changing the diet of our hunting dogs.

Firstly, there are medical reasons: your pet may have a medical condition that has been diagnosed by a health professional, such as kidney, heart or liver failure, diabetes, or obesity.

Physiological factors may also play a role: during the course of a dog's life, its nutritional needs change. Thus, a growing puppy does not have the same needs as an adult or older dog. The same applies to sensitivity. It is also possible that your pet no longer likes its food or that its diet is no longer suitable.

Finally, it is equally important to take into account the dog's lifestyle: an animal in the middle of an active or even intense hunting season should not be fed in the same way as a dog outside of this season that does not exercise as often. For more information on this subject, please watch the video below:

The importance of a dog's dietary transition

Proper preparation for transitioning your dog's diet is essential. Indeed, as mentioned above, a sudden change of food can lead to digestive problems, whether it is a question of kibble, pâté, or other types of dog food. Like us humans, dogs become accustomed to what they eat on a daily basis. Thus, allowing the dog to gradually adapt to its new food is intended to reduce transit problems: the dog's digestive tract produces an enzyme that favours fermentation, hence digestion, of the new food. Also, remember that it takes time for your pet's gut flora to adapt to the new food composition and intake.

If the transition to a new food is too rapid, or even a simple change of flavour, it is possible that diarrhoea and/or intestinal problems will occur. What is the solution to avoid such problems? A gradual dietary transition (we will come back to this point later).


#2 When to transition your pet's diet?

Every dog is different: some are more or less resistant to changing their diet. In this respect, it is important to allow your pet enough time to adapt to the new nutrients. Otherwise, what are the risks? Diarrhoea without proper assimilation of the food swallowed, nutrients that have not been absorbed by the flora may be flushed out by water recovered from the colon. There is a risk of vomiting, food intolerance, and even reduced or refusal of food in some cases.

Bear in mind that the dietary transition must be made from the moment your dog's diet is changed: from dry food to wet food, or vice versa, from one brand of food or kibble to another, or even from one brand within the same brand of food or kibble. The same applies if you decide to switch to a diet prepared by yourself.

Nevertheless, every dog is different: the adaptation process will take more or less time. For some, a week or even 15 days should be enough, while for others, 1 month may still not be enough. During this transitional phase, check and observe your pet's stools: they must be "soft": if they are too liquid, they are synonymous with diarrhoea, and if they are too hard, they could mean that your animal is constipated.


#3 How do i ensure a smooth dietary transition?

Not trying to move too fast in this transitional phase is essential if you want to preserve the integrity of your dog's digestive system. And therefore its health.

When changing kibbles, we recommend that during the first week, you mix the old ones (about 80%) with the new ones (about 20%) at every meal. In week two, switch to 50-50. In week 3, reverse the ratio: mix about 80% new kibble with 20% old. Then in the fourth week, switch to 100% new kibble. Be sure to avoid giving your dog leftovers from your meals or treats between feedings! Furthermore, we recommend feeding your dog in the evening: if your dog eats in the morning or early afternoon, for example, and then becomes very active, this could lead to stomach upsets.

Just as with humans, hydration plays a fundamental role for our four-legged companions as well. It's true, we tend to say that a well-hydrated dog is a healthy dog. Consequently, to ensure your pet drinks accordingly, we recommend that you soak the kibble for 5 minutes before giving it to your dog. This will result in the kibble swelling - the kibble will be full of water. This will ensure that your dog is properly hydrated. Water-soaked kibble has a larger volume to be ingested, which makes your dog feel fuller more quickly. In addition, the extra water consumed in this way will speed up the dog's excretion process. This will prevent him from "storing too much" and consequently from gaining too much weight. In short, assimilation is facilitated.

Hunting is a very demanding activity, carried out in conditions that are often challenging in terms of the biotope or the weather, and which requires diligent monitoring of your dog's nutrition. With this in mind, SOLOGNAC, Decathlon's hunting brand, developed a range of kibbles that meet all the needs of our faithful hunting companions.

In any case, please also read the article we wrote on how to fine-tune your dog's kibble rations: you will be able to estimate your dog's current condition and, based on this, adapt its diet or daily ration in the best possible way.