12 min

How To Transition Your Puppy To New Food

If you are bringing a new puppy home and have questions about how to transition their food, Pawp is here to help. Your questions are answered here.

Bridget Reed

Updated November 10, 2022 • Published January 19, 2022

Share to

How To Transition Your Puppy To New Food

Food transitions aren’t exactly easy on the stomach of any dog, but especially not for a puppy. That’s why if you are looking to switch your pet’s food, you should be careful about how you tackle the process. Taking your time and being mindful about how it can affect your dog’s gastrointestinal comfort is critical.

Of course, having a tactical guide on how to handle a food transition for your puppy is also helpful. That’s exactly what this article will provide you with: all of the information that you need to know about successfully transitioning your puppy to a new food. 

As a new puppy owner, you likely have a lot of questions. You might be wondering what you need to get for your new addition to welcome them home, or you might be curious what you should do if you have a late-night vet question. Or, maybe you’re curious how you can properly switch your dog over from one food to another. It’s understandable why you have this question, and Pawp is here to help you. 

Today, you are going to learn everything that you need to know about transitioning your puppy to a new type of dog food. To begin, you’ll learn more about why puppies sometimes need to change their foods. Afterward, you will learn more about how you can introduce a new type of food to your puppy.

Then, you will get more information about what you should do if your puppy experiences diarrhea and some insight about how long it will likely take for your new dog to successfully transition to their new food.

Continue reading to learn about everything having a new puppy entails. 

Why would my dog need new food?

There are several reasons why your dog might need new food, and it’s essential to remember that when you transition your dog to a new food, you’re trying to help them. That’s why being mindful about the transition and doing it gradually is essential. 

If you suspect that your new dog’s current food is not the best fit for them, you should certainly explore the possibility that there is a different food on the market that would be better.

You can ask a trusted veterinarian for their insights and thoughts about the type of food that would be best for your new canine companion. They can take into consideration your dog’s age, health status, breed, and beyond. 

Adverse food reactions

The first reason that you might need to transition your new puppy to new food is that they are experiencing an adverse food reaction. Even if your puppy is not full-fledged allergic to the food, if it appears to be causing any gastrointestinal upset, it’s time to take another step towards figuring out a food brand that works better for them. 

For instance, if you have noticed that your pet will experience diarrhea or throw up after eating, it is time to consider options as a more nutritious, healthful alternative to your dog’s current food.

Again, asking a vet what they think is a recommended course of action. Make sure to make a list of the food that did not work for your pet when you speak with the vet. You can even take a picture of the bag to make this record keeping as easy as possible. 

New life stages

Some foods are formulated to support your pet regardless of their life stage. However, your dog will probably benefit from a food type that is geared toward their age group. This is often especially true for puppy and senior dogs who need certain additional nutritional support. 

You can learn more about what is recommended for different life stages by visiting the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) website. This organization is responsible for setting standards for dog foods that are healthy and supportive. They provide critical insight regarding which ingredients are ideal for pet food. 

Weight gain or loss

Next, if your pet has recently experienced a significant weight loss or gain, it’s wise to consider switching their diet. There could be a more supportive food choice out there. 

For instance, if your pet is gaining weight, you might want to look for a food that has more fiber in it, as fiber can enhance feelings of being full. This could discourage your dog from overeating. 

Alternatively, if you notice that your pet has lost weight, you should bring them to a vet to ensure that there is nothing physically wrong with them. Once you’ve eliminated the possibility that there’s an underlying medical condition your dog is experiencing, you can get your vet’s insight on a dog food that will be a better fit. 

Vet recommendations

Lastly, if your vet recommends that you switch your dog’s food, you should take their advice. This is because the vet might be familiar with a food that is a better match for your pet’s dietary needs.

Some breeds of dogs need specific food. Every breed of dog is different, and your vet can help ensure that your dog gets all the nutrients they require

How can I introduce new food to my puppy?

The most important thing to keep in mind about introducing new food to your pup is that it will not (and should not) happen overnight. In addition, this process varies depending on your dog’s stomach and their ability to tolerate a food transition. It’s best to start slow. 

Slowly integrate the new food

On days one to two, you should mix the new and preexisting food together. Dr. Laura Robinson, a Pawp veterinarian, shares the percentage of new and pre-existing food you should mix together. 

In the first week, you should provide your pet with ⅓ of the new food and ⅔ of the old food. In the second week, measure the same amount of each, so ½ new food and ½ old food. Finally, in the third week, the majority will be the new food, with ⅔ new and ⅓ old. 

According to Dr. Robinson, “If your dog is having soft stool after a diet change, you can add some white rice to their food. If the soft stool/diarrhea continues after about a week of doing so, then I would recommend talking to your vet about switching to a different diet.”

Monitor your dog

Keep an eye on your dog so you are aware if they are exhibiting any signs or symptoms that they are experiencing difficulty with the food transition. Some tell-tale signs that something is not right are vomiting, loose diarrhea, or acting lethargic.

This means that it is time to reach out to your vet. This could signal that there is actually something more serious going on. 

Check their fecal score

Lastly, keep an eye on your dog’s fecal score. If you notice that it is extremely soft, you should stretch out the transition or reach out to your vet for advice about how to proceed. Since they have a more robust understanding of your individual dog's needs, you can never go wrong by asking a vet for some advice. 

What should I do if my puppy has diarrhea?

Canine diarrhea occurs when something either impairs your pet’s intestine’s ability to soak up and absorb water or when something leads the intestine to secrete more water. There are a plethora of reasons your dog can experience this.

Even if you think it’s because of your dog’s food transitions, it’s always wise to visit your dog’s vet if diarrhea persists. 

Additionally, if your pet is not eating or drinking, you should go to the vet, as there might be a problem going on somewhere else in your dog’s body. In addition, an ongoing diarrhea experience can make your dog experience weight loss, nutrition deficiencies, and dehydration.

If your dog’s diarrhea continues, you can take your dog to the vet to get checked out. A bland diet can also prove helpful for dogs experiencing diarrhea

How long does it take a puppy to adjust to a new food?

It’s really impossible to put a timeline on how long a puppy will take to get acclimated to new food. This is because all puppies’ stomachs are different.

Some will be able to successfully complete a food transition in a few weeks. For others, it can take as long as a few months. It’s important that if at any point you feel your dog is in distress, you reach out to a vet and express your concerns. 

Slow and steady

If you have any questions about your dog’s health or transitioning them to a new food, you can always reach out to a Pawp veterinarian.

Pawp has 24/7 telehealth visits available, so you can get your questions answered wherever you are and whenever you need them. 


How do I switch my pet's food? | Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School 

Diarrhea | Cornell University 


Reading Labels | AAFCO  

Fiber Frustrations | Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School  

Pet Diarrhea: When To Run To The Vet | Texas A&M 

Diarrhea | WSU  

Diarrhea | Animal Medical Center

Talk to a vet now — it's free!

Text, call, or video chat with a vet within minutes.

Talk To A Vet Now