Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to Transtion Your Dog or Cat to a New Food

Dog and cat eating
Updated: 4/29/24

There may be a variety of reasons why it's important to change your pet’s food.  It could be a health condition, a healthier option or a change in the nutritional needs of your pet. Transitioning your pet's diet slowly is crucial because sudden changes can indeed lead to digestive upset and other health issues.

Why Should You Transition Your Pet's Food Slowly?

Digestive Sensitivity: Just like humans, pets have sensitive digestive systems. A sudden change in diet can disrupt the balance of good bacteria in their guts, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, or other gastrointestinal problems.

Nutritional Balance: Different foods contain varying levels of nutrients. Abruptly switching your pet's food can result in an imbalance of essential nutrients, which may lead to nutritional deficiencies or excesses over time.

Palatability: Pets can be creatures of habit, and sudden changes in taste and texture may cause them to reject their new food. Slowly transitioning allows them to gradually adjust to the new flavor and texture, increasing the likelihood of acceptance.

Reduced Stress: Any abrupt change can be stressful for animals. Gradually introducing new food gives them time to adapt and reduces the stress associated with sudden dietary changes.

How Do You Transition Your Pet To A New Food?

To transition your pet to a new diet safely, gradually mix increasing amounts of the new food with decreasing amounts of the old food over 7-10 days. This allows their digestive system to adapt gradually to the new food while minimizing the risk of digestive upset. Start with 1/4 new food with 3/4 old food for 3-4 days. If no issues arise,  then increase by 1/4 every two days until fully switched to the new food.  Please, keep in mind that if you introduce the new food too quickly, your pet could suffer from an upset stomach, vomiting, gas or diarrhea.  If any of these occur, slow down the process beyond the recommended (reduce the percentage of new food and/or increase days between changes) until the symptoms subside. If your pet's stool is soft, you can add a small amount of pure canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)  to their food. The added fiber should help firm up their stools.  Also, Power Probiotic and a digestive enzyme such as K9 Digestive Enzymes will make the transition easier. 

Author: Susan Davis, pet nutritionist
Orignal Post: 4/12/15
Updated: 4/29/24