—I tried to switch to a high-quality food, but my dog didn’t like it/his or her stool become loose – why is this?—
Dogs, as we all know, really can be a lot like people sometimes, and just like people, they have different taste preferences, and their bodies also have different tolerances for different things. Some foods may be too “rich” for your dog at first, especially if you are switching from a corn/filler-based food to a healthy meat-based food. Some foods simply may not have a taste your dog likes. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know in advance about any of these things (actually, some companies do offer free samples, but most don’t). It’s all trial and error.
One of my dogs liked the taste of Canidae, one didn’t. I know of many people who swear by Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul and have never had a problem with it, and others who have complained of it causing loose stools. Even though each dog’s nutritional requirements are the same (although certain dogs do have special nutritional needs), the same kind of food is not going to work for all dogs.
One thing to keep in mind is that it takes some dogs a while to adjust to new food. It is not uncommon for a brand new food to cause loose stools (this occurs even when switching between low-quality foods), but usually, once your dog’s body adjusts to the change, they will go back to normal.
Also, when switching foods, it can help to do so gradually, especially if you know your dog has a sensitive stomach. My two dogs have stomachs of iron and have never had a bad reaction to an abrupt food switch, but my late Springer Spaniel had a hard time whenever we changed her food. To make the change easier, add just a little of the new food in with the old food, increasing the amount a bit each day over the course of a week or longer, until you are feeding only the new food. This will usually cut down on, if not eliminate, any bad reactions your dog could have.
If you have food your dog will absolutely not eat, call your local animal shelter or rescue group and ask if they’d be interested in it. They may or may not accept an open bag, but they are always in need of donations, so it wouldn’t hurt to inquire!
—How do I find healthy dog food? How do I know what’s unhealthy? There’s something listed on the ingredients that I don’t understand…what is this?—
Rather than explain it all here, I suggest a visit to these sites, which explain it in more detail and more clearly than I ever could. If you have specific questions though, or if you’re wondering about the quality of a specific brand or a brand’s specific blend, please comment and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.
How to identify a high-quality food: http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=betterproducts
Ingredients to avoid: http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=badingredients
Go here for what each ingredient actually is: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring04/Perhach/PetFood/Ingredients.htm
Go here for general label information: http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=labelinfo101
Links for further reading:
http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food_reviews/ – Hundreds of dog food reviews with well-explained lists of pros and cons for each one, as well as an easy-to-understand rating system. Full ingredient lists from hundreds of foods listed here, which makes it easy to compare without going to each individual website. While this shouldn’t be treated as the “Bible of Dog Food,” and there are a few ratings I tend to disagree with (for example, I’d say Chicken Soup should be a 5, rather than a 4), it’s still a must read for anyone interested in their dog’s nutrition!
http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=main – The largest wealth of information on dog food and dog nutrition out there. Talks about anything and everything related to dog food and dog nutrition, and will likely answer every question you have, and many you didn’t even know you had!
Part 5 is the final part of this series, but definitely look for more info and FAQs about dog food and dog nutrition in the future!