Custom Dog Food: The Ultimate Guide
By Emily Shiffer —
7 minute read
featured, health + nutrition
Reviewed by Emily Luisana, DVM
Walk down any store’s dog food aisle and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the kibble choices available to pet parents these days. And though it may seem like there’s an option for every single breed, size, and dietary need, in reality, even the most specialized kibble formula on the shelf is still a one-size-fits-most solution, at best.
That’s why countless pet parents are turning to a new and better option — high-quality, customized kibble crafted to meet the unique health and nutrition needs of our one-of-a-kind pets.
Personalized dog food that’s tailored to address the specific needs of individual dogs isn’t just a growing trend. It’s a science-backed shift that’s reshaping the dog food industry.
“In general, interest in animal nutrition has gone from 0 to 60,” says Tailored Pet Veterinary Advisor, Emily Luisana, DVM, who is residency-trained in small animal clinical nutrition. “Custom diets have exploded in popularity. From homemade foods to kibble blends, pet parents are seeking personalized dog food recommendations for their pets more than ever.”
The Benefits of Personalized Pet Nutrition
For many pet parents, the goal of putting our pups on personalized diets has a lot to do with addressing a range of common health concerns. Selecting the right personalized diet can not only alleviate pain, promote good health, and address specific nutritional needs — like those of large breed puppies — personalized pet food can also deliver peace of mind. With a customized diet, pet parents no longer have to worry about mystery ingredients, allergens, or other fillers in our pets’ food. Customized recipes can make sure they’re getting everything they need to thrive... and that’s it.
But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the best customized diet for your pup.
“Every pet is different, and having professional nutritional guidance is important,” says Dr. Luisana. “The goal is to simplify and prioritize what your dog needs and ultimately find a diet that will help your dog enjoy a healthy, long life.”
And besides guaranteeing quality, personalized pet food can also make feeding your pup easy and convenient. Here’s what you need to know about personalized pet nutrition and how to choose the right custom dog food for your beloved pooch.
Is Custom Dog Food Right for Your Pet?
Every dog is different, and that goes for their nutritional needs, too. That’s what makes customized dog food so appealing to so many veterinarians. The right formula can help address a wide variety of nutritional needs across all ages and stages of life, as well as health issues that impact your dog’s overall wellness and quality of life.
Here are just a few of the ways a customized diet can benefit your pet:
Weight Management -
Digestive Health -
Allergies / Sensitivities -
Ear Infections -
What to Look for in Personalized Dog Food
How to Get the Most Out of Tailored Dog Food
Once you have chosen the best customized dog food for your pooch, it’s important to implement it properly. Transitioning your dog’s food can be tricky, but Dr. Luisana has a simple suggestion to make the transition easier for you and your pet.
“For the first two weeks, I recommend the ‘Two-Bowl Method.’ Grab two bowls, and fill the first bowl with 90% of a full serving of your dog’s ‘old food’ and the second bowl with 10% of a serving of the ‘new food. Slowly change the ratio each day to favor the ‘new food’ over the next two weeks,” recommends Dr. Luisana. “This can help if your dog is reluctant to eat the new food, and won’t throw them off of the old food too quickly. It encourages them to make the transition on their own without you forcing it.”
"This can also help mitigate any gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, especially for sensitive stomachs", notes Dr. Luisana.
For extra picky pups, she also suggests talking to your vet about giving your pet some more time to make the transition or adding some yummy ‘toppers’ to make the new kibble more palatable.
Ultimately, once your pet adopts their new custom dog food, you should be able to tell it’s working in about one month.
“For most dogs, within one month of fully transitioning, you should see some positive effects. However, it can take up to three months to see the full effect of the new food, especially if your dog has any GI inflammation,” says Dr. Luisana.
Best of all, since the formula is custom crafted to fit your dog’s specific needs and preferences, there’s no second-guessing and expensive trial-and-error, like there can be with off-the-shelf options. And that’s a benefit every pet parent can appreciate.
About the author
Emily Shiffer is a freelance writer living in Pennsylvania and is a former online staff member at Men's Health and Prevention magazines. She writes for a multitude of publications, including Women's Health, Parade, SHAPE, and more. Emily loves all things antiques, cilantro, and American history. She grew up with two dachshunds and aspires to one day be a Doxie mom.