How Long Will My Dog Have Diarrhea After Changing Food?

Your dog will likely have diarrhea for two to three days after you change their food. To reduce the chances of diarrhea, don’t change their food all at once. Instead, make it a gradual process over the course of 5 days. 

There are many reasons why you may want to change your dog’s food. Maybe you found a higher-quality brand. Perhaps your puppy is ready to switch from puppy food to adult kibble. Or maybe your vet recommended a particular diet.

Despite the reason for the transition, dogs will commonly develop diarrhea and other digestion issues when switching to a new food.

Why does this happen? The answer is simple.  Their bodies are not used to sudden changes. When changing foods, diarrhea should only last a few days before your dog’s system adjusts to the new diet. If your dog still has diarrhea after a couple of days, there might be a bigger issue at play.

This article will discuss why dogs develop diarrhea when switching food, how long diarrhea will last, and tips to prevent digestion problems during future diet changes.

Why Change Food in The First Place?

Although switching food is likely to cause an upset stomach, there are many great reasons to make the switch. Switching foods shouldn’t happen often, but most dog owners will change their dog’s food a few times during the dog’s lifespan.

A few common reasons for changing food include:

  • Puppy food to adult dog food
  • A healthier brand
  • Kibble to canned food
  • Regular dog food to senior dog food
  • Regular dog food to a vet-recommended prescription diet

Dogs do not respond well to sudden changes. Switching to an entirely new food is bound to cause some digestional upset. Since your dog may go through this change more than once in its life, you should be prepared for possible digestive problems.

Why Do Dogs Get Diarrhea When Changing Food?

You may not notice that your dog has diarrhea unless you watch him while he does his business. If your dog shows any urgency to go outside and needs to go out more frequently than usual, he probably has diarrhea.

If you get a closer look at his business, observe the consistency and color. An obvious sign is if his stool is softer than usual or in liquid form.

But why does changing his food cause this reaction?

When new food enters your dog’s stomach, his body will instantly have a reaction to the unknown substance in his system. This triggers the intestines to secrete more water than usual. The water helps to quickly push the new substance out. This results in watery stool.

How Long Will The Diarrhea Last?

All symptoms from switching food (including diarrhea) should clear up within 72 hours. If your dog still has digestion problems after a few days, have him checked by a vet.

If you want to clear the symptoms faster than three days, try the remedies below.

Remedies For Doggie Diarrhea

No one likes to see their dog suffer from diarrhea (and we especially don’t like the clean-up process). Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help end this symptom sooner rather than later.

The following foods can be added to your dog’s diet to help quickly relieve diarrhea.

  • White rice
  • Yogurt (only for dogs that can tolerate milk products)
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Probiotics
  • Plain chicken
  • Eggs
  • Boiled potatoes without the skin

You may need to experiment to find the proper remedy. Foods that work great for one dog might not do anything for another dog.

Other Common Symptoms of Changing Food

Along with diarrhea, your dog may also experience stomach aches, vomiting, and a loss of appetite. They may not eat as much as usual due to the pain they’re experiencing. There is nothing to worry about if these symptoms only last 24-48 hours.

However, if these symptoms (such as frequent vomiting or not eating at all) last more than two days, it’s time to take your dog to the vet.

Tips For Transitioning Your Dog’s Food

If you haven’t changed your dog’s food yet (or you’ve done it in the past and your dog had an adverse reaction), you probably want to know how to do it in a way that prevents digestion issues.

There are a few things you can do to transition your dog’s diet without upsetting his system.

Gradually Mix In New Food

Since dogs don’t react well to sudden changes, it’s best to slowly switch your dog’s food. Gradually adding more new food into his bowl over several days will prevent his stomach from getting upset.

A common method used is the ratio method. Each day, you will increase the new food in your dog’s bowl by a fraction.

For example, if you decide to take five days to make the transition, you would fill your dog’s bowl with 80% old food and 20% new food on the first day. On the second day, you would fill the bowl with 60% old food and 40% new food. You would keep adding 20% (or whatever percentage you choose) until your dog’s bowl is 100% filled with new food.

Add A Digestive Aid

Even if you use the ratio method above, some dogs may still have an upset stomach. If your dog is having trouble with his new food, you can add a digestive aid to his diet. Canned pumpkin and probiotics are great aids that will ease your dog’s upset stomach and diarrhea. Adding a small amount of either of these can make a massive difference.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

During a food transition, your dog needs a lot of water. Hydration is especially critical if your dog is experiencing diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common cause of dehydration, so your dog will need to replenish the water he is losing.

When To Talk To A Vet

Though dogs usually become accustomed to their diet within a few days, there are a few situations where you may want to take your dog to a vet.

If your dog has been on the new food for more than a few days and is still experiencing problems, it should be seen by a vet.

Dogs may not transition quickly to a new food, but they should have no problems after three days. If your dog is still experiencing problems after 72 hours, he may be allergic to his new food.

If your dog’s symptoms get worse or change, you should immediately take him to a vet. If the symptoms turn from diarrhea to nausea, vomiting, or a complete loss of appetite, these symptoms are considered more severe. Your dog should be seen by the vet ASAP.

Other signs that your dog is reacting to his food include itching, skin inflammation, hair loss, and rashes.

Doggie Diarrhea is Normal – But Not Fun

Dog diarrhea is a topic that few people enjoy discussing. However, it is a normal occurrence for dogs, especially after transitioning to a new food.

If your dog is suffering from diarrhea, know that it will probably only last for a few days. Dogs have incredibly sensitive stomachs, which can become triggered by any sudden change.

When transitioning to new dog food, it is important to take it slow. Gradually incorporating the new food over a few days or even a week or two will prevent many of the problems that occur during diet changes.

Give the vet a call if your dog shows signs of digestion issues or something worse for more than three days.

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