Friday, November 19, 2010

5 Steps to Successfully Changing Your Pet’s Food

Changing your pet’s food can sometimes be a challenge. A finicky pet may turn up his nose at your new offering, while a more enthusiastic eater may gobble it up quickly. No matter which type you have, a gradual transition should be considered in order to avoid digestive upset. Don’t be in a hurry. Be prepared to transition slowly over two weeks. Here are some steps you can take to make switching foods easier on your pet.

#1 – Plan for Transition: Buy your new food when you still have about a 2-week supply of your pet’s current food. You’ll need both during the transition.

#2 – Choose a Good Food: Don’t rely on the marketing of pet food companies…read the labels. Dogs and cats are carnivores, so try to select a food that is high in animal protein. Avoid common allergens in pets, like corn, wheat, soy, rice, potato, tapioca, or gluten. Chemicals are not food, so avoid pet products listing chemicals among the ingredients. See the bag comparison graphic below for two examples of ingredient labels. For more information on pet food ingredients, visit

#3 – First 3 Days: Continue to feed your pet his regular meals with his current food, minus a couple of teaspoons for cats, or about 5% of a dog’s regular portion. In a separate bowl or by hand, offer this small amount of the new food.

#4 – Days 4 to 6: With no other food around, offer that same small portion of the just the new food. After about 30 minutes, feed the remaining portion of the regular meal size with the original food your pet was eating before the change. The 30 minute delay gives you a chance to make sure there are no problems consuming the new food. It also encourages the finicky pet to try the new food before he gets any of the one he’s used to.

#5 – Days 7 to 14: At this stage, you can mix the two foods together, gradually increasing the amount of the new food each day, until you are feeding the entire portion with the new food at about two weeks after you began the transition. If you have a gobbler, consider putting non-food objects in the bowl, like medium-sized smooth rocks, or use a bowl with this feature built in. This slows down the eater and helps digestion.

Taking your time and following these steps will help your pet’s food change go more smoothly, without the digestive upset that can be very common when switching pet foods. For more information, visit

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