So you’ve got your new puppy, you’ve picked out the best food for him and it’s tempting to get him switched over right away but that’s often the worst thing you can do.

Don’t rush

It’s really important to remember that moving to a new home and away from the mother, the siblings and everything he’s ever known is an incredibly stressful time for puppies. So stressful in fact that the majority quickly start to experience digestive problems like diarrhoea or constipation. Changing foods at this early and fragile stage could turn those minor digestive problems into major ones, could permanently put the puppy off the food in question and in many cases leads the owners to believe that the food itself is causing the problem.

The key with new puppies is to stick with whatever food he or she was on with the breeder for at least a week or two, no matter how awful that food is. Many breeders will provide a starter bag for exactly that purpose. Only once the pup has fully settled in and is producing nice firm but not hard poops on a regular basis, should you consider changing foods.

Still don’t rush

Dog’s digestive systems are incredibly robust but change their diet too quickly and they can struggle to adjust. This is because they become accustomed to the food types they regularly receive, producing more of the enzymes that are necessary to break them down and fewer of the ones that aren’t. This makes them incredibly efficient at digesting and utilising their normal food but not so good at unusual foods.

For that reason, it’s best to start introducing any new food gradually. Start by replacing 10% of the old diet with 10% of the new one on day one. On the second day, provided there are no signs of digestive upsets, increase to 20% new food, 80% old. As long as everything keeps going smoothly, you can keep increasing the proportion of new food by 10% or so each day until, on around day 10, your puppy is completely on the new food.

If, at any stage, the poop starts to become too loose, you are probably moving too fast. Just slow the change down, go back to the last ratio that worked for a day or two before continuing again.

Don’t overfeed

Too much of even a good food can lead to digestive issues so take care not to give too much. Different foods have different suggested feeding amounts so when working out the proportions use the respective guides. For example, on day one it would be 10% of the new food using the new food’s feeding guide with 90% of the old food using the old food’s feeding guide.

And that’s it. Just take your time and your new best friend will be on his new food before you know it.