Switching Dogs and Cats to New Food Options the Right Way

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Switching Dogs and Cats to New Food Options the Right Way

There are many reasons for switching your pet’s food. If you bring a new pet home from either an adoption agency or a breeder, you will likely be switching up the food that your pet has come accustomed to. Or maybe your pet needs to be put on food for a special diet or perhaps it’s just time for a change of pace.

One thing to keep in mind during this transition is that if you abruptly change food on your pet, you can upset their digestive system, oftentimes causing diarrhea, bloating and discomfort. That’s why we wanted to share a few pointers for changing pet foods in a slow and safe manner.

Since dogs and cats have different digestive needs and habits, we broke down our advice accordingly…

Introducing your dog to a new food option:

We recommend slowly transitioning your dog’s food over a one to two week time frame, in which you should increase the amount of new food and decrease the older food on a daily basis until your pet can safely consume their new meal.

Introducing your cat to a new food option:

Cats are even more sensitive than dogs in most cases and can become ill or lose interest in food if the change is made overnight. Since they usually take longer to transition, instead of adding more and more of the new food each day, we recommend adding a little bit and keeping that amount for about 2-4 days. After the initial switch, add a little more and keep that amount for about 2-4 days. Then, add about half new food/half old food and keep that consistent for about 2-4. Follow this process until the new food has been officially transitioned. They have a much slower transition time, so be patient!

If your pet starts showing signs of discomfort or loose stools, there are a few at-home remedies that you can implement until they are ready to try the new food again or visit the vet.

  • Feed a few meals of bland chicken and rice.

This mixture should consist of about 20 percent chicken and 80 percent rice and should be fed twice a day or as often as your pet eats. Once the symptoms are gone, slowly start bringing back the mixture of old and new food, following the guidelines above.

  • Incorporate yogurt to the new food.

Yogurt has healthy bacteria that helps put your digestive organs back on track. Mix some plain, non-greek yogurt with your pet’s new food as you introduce it at mealtime. Once the symptoms decrease, slowly start to put less and less yogurt into the meal until your pet is eating the new food exclusively.

Unlike humans, dogs and cats usually eat the same meal twice a day for days on end. That’s why their stomachs become used to processing a certain set of nutrients and they require a few days to prepare to digest new materials and even get used to a new smell and texture of another food.

If you have any questions or if your pet displays symptoms of diarrhea or discomfort for two or more days, despite trying the at-home remedies, please give us a call! The Butte Oroville staff is happy to consult with you to try to find an alternative new food or offer new ideas for the transition period.

Posted Thursday, May 22, 2014