How to Safely Switch Your Labrador – Or Any Dog – to a New Food

Over the course of your labrador’s life, you might have to switch them to a new food a few times. Changing your dog’s diet is healthy because there isn’t one best dog food! in fact, the best way to nourish your dog is to give them variety over their life. Nutritional diversity is important and can reduce the intolerances and allergies from developing.

What is the best way to switch your labrador to a new food safely without making them sick? As a general rule, you should always gradually transition your dog to a new food over the course of a week or two by slowly swapping out the old food with the new diet.

Switching your dog’s food too fast, or “cold turkey,” can cause digestive issues that make your dog feel sick and can lead to more complications. Avoid those issues with my advice on how to safely switch your Lab to new food!

Change my labradors food safely

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How to Introduce New Food to Your Labrador

You might be switching dog foods for a number of reasons. Your lab might have allergies or skin issues that you’d like to resolve with a different food. Maybe your dog food budget has changed. Or maybe you want to switch to a protein-focused high-quality diet.

Whatever the reason, you can safely introduce the new food to your labrador by following the dog food transition chart below. You can follow this guideline when changing dog food brands or switching formulas within a brand.

Follow this guideline when switching your dog’s food:

  • Days 1 – 3: a handful of the new food with 80% old food
  • Days 4 – 6: half and half mix of new and old food
  • Day 6 – 9: 80% new food with a handful of the old food
  • Day 10: successfully transitioned to the new food!

If you’re changing protein sources in the same food (like from beef to fish) you probably don’t need this gradual transition. It’s safe to switch between protein sources overnight. In fact, switching protein sources every 3-6 weeks can be really healthy for your dog! According to Stella & Chewy’s, it helps prevent intolerances and allergies from developing.

switching your labrador to a new food

What Happens if I Change my Labrador’s Food Too Quickly?

If you switch your labrador to a new food too fast, it can cause digestive issues. Even though labs are known for having an iron gut, if you change foods too fast it could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and other tummy problems.

When dogs have digestive issues like this it can lead to a loss of appetite and they might skip a few meals. You want to avoid this if at all possible! That’s why it’s best to slowly transition your dog to a new food over a week or two.

While you’re transitioning foods, keep an eye on your dog’s poop. While it sounds gross, that’s the best way to monitor if they’re adjusting to the switch. If your dog has really abnormal poops during a food transition, you might want to slow it down and give them a few more days to adjust.

When should Lab Puppies switch to adult dog food?

If you have a new labrador puppy, you’re might be feeding them puppy food. It’s essential for your new puppy to get the proper nutrients to help them grow and support brain, bone, and muscle development.

However, many premium dog foods are approved for all life stages (meaning, there isn’t really such a thing as puppy food or senior food). That’s because they use quality, whole foods that are frequently human-grade ingredients.

If this is the case with your labrador puppy’s food, Stella & Chewy’s recommends you look for these keywords on the label:

  • “Complete and balanced”
  • “All Life Stages”
  • “including the growth of large breed dogs”

These statements indicate that the food is suitable for puppies according to the AAFCO (American Association of Food Control Officers) Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

If you’re feeding a puppy food or a food appropriate for all life stages, you will want to adjust to adult dog feeding guidelines when your puppy is fully grown. For labs that’s around 1-year-old. 

save money on expensive dog food

Transitioning Your Labrador from Kibble to Raw Food

I’m not an expert in raw food for dogs, but I know a blogger who is! Kimberly from Keep the Tail Wagging has a ton of resources on this topic. This post has a guide that tells you how to transition your dog from kibble to raw over about a 4 week period.

As with any other transition, it’s good to take it slow! Kimberly has experience doing a hybrid diet of raw food for breakfast and kibble for dinner over a slow transition. On the other hand, she also says that when you get more experience with raw food, you might be able to switch your dog from kibble to raw cold turkey. Learn more about raw feeding on her blog!

Switching To Stella and Chewy's Raw Blend Kibble

What Food is Best for Your Lab?

I can’t say what food is best for your dog, you will have to figure that out based on your lab’s needs and taste. Labs usually aren’t picky eaters, so it shouldn’t be too difficult!

I’ve been feeding my labs Stella & Chewy’s Raw Coated Kibble for about 3 years. They love it and I think that they’re so healthy and active at 9 years old because of the high-quality food that they get. You can get a $5 off coupon on my Stella & Chewy’s ambassador page!

In addition to that kibble, I often add in Meal Mixers (freeze fried raw meat), bone broth, and other supplements such as fish oil (I like this one) and CBD oil (lately we’re using Treatibles). Every once in a while I also buy frozen raw patties and add that into their kibble as a topper.

I know that raw food and foods with minimal carbohydrates are the best for my dogs, so I do my best to feed them that diet. Maybe one day we will transition to a fully raw diet! First, I will have to learn more from Kimberly at Keep the Tail Wagging!

Enjoy this post? Check out these, too:
85+ Classic and Unique Names for Chocolate Labradors
Podcast Episode: Stephanie Wolfinger of Wolfpack Labradors
Questions to Ask your Labrador Breeder
Healthy Kong Stuffing Recipes My Labradors Love
Dog Mom Review: Happy Go Healthy Supplements


How to Safely Switch Your Labrador to a New Food

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you shop with my links. Your support makes it possible for me to run Wear Wag Repeat!


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Tori Mistick is a blogger, podcaster and certified Canine Enrichment Specialist. You might call her a professional dog mom! Tori has a soft spot for senior dogs and loves the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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