The best way to transition your pet to a new food
Unlike common beliefs amongst veterinarians and animal guardians, it is actually best to feed our animal companions a variety of foods and protein sources during their lives. Actually, the incidence of developing food allergies and/or hypersensitivities is much higher when consuming the same protein source over a long period of time. Just as people thrive on a variety of foods, pets are truly healthier when eating a variety of foods. But what’s the best way to transition your pet to a new food?
When making the transition to a new diet, it is best to do this gradually over several days if possible. The time period needed will vary depending on the digestive tract sensitivity of a given animal. Because the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease is so high in companion animals today, many pets will need a longer transition period in order to avoid acute digestive upset during the process of dietary transitions. In these circumstances, I will typically instruct animal guardians to start out with feeding 75% the original diet and 25% of the new diet over the first few days, increasing the percentage of the new food, then 50% of the food offered in the next few days, and gradually withholding more of the original diet over a 10 day period, until the transition is complete.
It is important for animal guardians to understand that it is normal sometimes for the stools to become a bit more loose for a brief period of time, as the body transitions to the new food. Pets may even occasional vomit during the transition period. I have found that incorporating a good quality probiotic during and after the transition quite helpful in strengthening the gut immune system, as well as helping with the transition. I have also found that the mild herb slippery elm, available from most health food stores, also helpful in soothing the digestive tract during dietary transitions. If digestive symptoms become excessive during this period, it may be helpful to consult with a veterinarian to help with the transition process.