We all know what it is like to travel, enjoy new foods along the way, and then pay the price with traveler’s tummy. For many of us, a change in diet causes intestinal distress. Our gastrointestinal tract just is not happy with the sudden change from one type of food to another. The same holds true for our pets.
Diarrhea...gas...vomiting…. Our pets can react badly to a sudden change in diet. Often accustomed to much the same diet day in and day out, your dog may enjoy the taste of the new food – but you may find that he is experiencing gastrointestinal distress shortly thereafter.
Transitioning a Picky Eater to a New Food
In the case of your cat, the problem may not only be gastrointestinal but also palatability. Many cats are notoriously picky eaters, wanting the same meal for dinner that they enjoyed for breakfast — not just that day but also every day before it.
Sooner or later, we all want to switch our pets to a new food. Whether it is a change brought about because of a recall or shortage of the old food, a need for altering his diet to lose weight or to address a veterinary problem, or because of a change in your own financial situation, there may come a time when you want or need to change your pet’s food.
Before changing your pet’s food, make a call to your veterinarian to discuss the change. Once you have received the green light, it is time to devise a transitioning schedule.
Creating a Transitioning Schedule
Rather than suddenly switching from one food to another overnight, most veterinarians and pet food companies recommend a slow change from the old food to the new food. The process takes five days:
Day One: Serve your pet 80 percent of his old food with 20 percent of the new food. You could serve the two foods on separate parts of the plate/bowl or mix it all together. The latter might be preferable for finicky eaters so they can’t simply pick out the old food.
Day Two: Serve 60 percent old food with 40 percent new food.
Day Three: Serve 40 percent old food with 60 percent new food.
Day Four: Serve 20 percent old food with 80 percent new food.
Day Five: Serve 100 percent new food.
As with all changes, keep an eye out for distress during this transition. If your dog or cat develops gastrointestinal problems during this period, call your veterinarian.