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There are several times in the life of your pet when you will need to change up the brand and type of food your pet gets to enjoy. They may have some health conditions or a food sensitivity and need to change up the food, or they may be ready to reach the next stage in their development. When it is time to change up the food, there are a few steps you can take to make this easier.
To transition your pet to a new food brand, you need to plan ahead, talk about any concerns with the vet, do a gradual transition all at once, watch out for potential food sensitivities, make it fun, add a little human food, and keep meal patterns normal.
This article will take some time to look at the best tips you can utilize to help your pet transition to a new food brand, how to know when it is time to make the big switch, and some of the side effects to look at to keep your pet as healthy as possible.
Table of Contents
You should be able to see when your pet will need to change dog foods. If your vet tells you to try out something new for the diet of your pet, or your pet goes from being a puppy or kitten and now is reaching adulthood, you will need to pick a new food brand.
If possible, take advantage of this extra time to make sure you are prepared for this switch. Keep enough of the original food around for at least four days of meals, while also purchasing the new food you want to use. And never try to make the switch if there is an event or something else that will interrupt the normal feeding schedule.
If you plan to go on a trip, for example, wait until you get back to make any changes.
Talk With Your Vet
Before you decide to change any of the food that your pet eats, consider consulting your vet. They will be able to give you special guidance based on the breed and age of your pet. In some cases, they may suggest the switch in food brands based on the health of your pet and any special dietary needs.
If you have any questions about this transition, your vet will be able to help answer those as well. Once you make the switch with your pet, if you start to notice that something is wrong with your pet, or they don’t seem to tolerate the new food well, stop providing the new food brand and call your vet right away.
Make the Transition Gradual
You should never just take away the old food and only give the new food. This may seem like the best idea in the world, and the easiest, but can make things so much worse. Working with a gradual transition will help your pet to get used to the new texture and flavoring, and can make the transition a lot smoother.
A good place to start is to mix about 25% of your new brand of food into the old food your animal is used to. Let them have that for each meal for a few days, monitoring how they seem to respond and whether there is anything to be concerned about.
If your pet seems to be doing well with the new food and is tolerating it well, then it is time to change the ratios. Add a bit more of the new brand and take out some of the old, watching, and monitoring during this time as well. You should be able to continue this over the next few days until the old food is completely gone, and your pet is enjoying just the new food.
Keep With Your Pets’ Normal Feeding Patterns
If possible, it is good to keep the feeding patterns as normal as possible during the transition. Aside from putting a little bit of new food into the bowl along with the old, nothing else should change. If you try to make a lot of changes at once, it can make your pet feel anxious and worried, and they are less likely to take a liking to the new food.
The less that you can change about any mealtime during the transition, the more comfortable the pet will be with this change. They most likely won’t even notice a change in food if you don’t make a big deal out of it either. Just put their bowl down in front of them at the normal eating time, and they are likely to jump in and enjoy it.
It’s Not the End of the World if a Meal Is Missed
Even though we just talked about how important keeping your pet on a normal feeding pattern is for this transition, you don’t need to pull your hair out if your pet decides they don’t want a regular meal. This is common when you switch out food brands as your pet starts to get familiar with the new taste and texture.
Your job is to provide the meals at the same time each day as normal, as much as possible. Give the pet some time to sniff around and look at the food, and try to encourage them to at least take a bite and see if they like it. If you try all of this and they still aren’t willing to eat much, then leave it alone until the next meal.
Most pets will give in after missing a meal because they are hungry and want to eat. However, if your pet seems to miss more than a few meals after changing, it may be time to call the vet to see if something else is not right.
Try to Make the Appeal Better
For some pets, no matter how hard you try, they will be finicky and not want to try out anything new. You can do the steps above and try your best, but they still refuse to try it out or have anything to do with it. When this happens, it is time to bring your A game and boost the appeal of the food.
One thing to try is taking the new food you want to adjust them to, and mix it with some warm water. You could even try to feed it to them by hand as a treat for a few days, so they have a chance to adjust and get used to the mixture.
If you do decide to make a mixture of the food with some water, make sure that anything that isn’t eaten within half an hour is thrown out. This will ensure that nothing spoils or gets worse in the food bowl.
Only Change One Food at a Time
It is best to just change one food out at a time. If your pet enjoys some wet food and some kibble or dry food, only change one of those at a time to not overload the system. This will also make it easier to catch food sensitivities and know which food your pet has an adverse reaction to.
Pick the food they have the most and do the transition with just that to start. If they seem to do well with this, you can wait a few weeks and start switching over the second food as well. The small transitions are the best here because they help your pet get everything they need without causing anxiety to your pet.
Try to Make It More Fun
The more excitement you can add to changing the food, and the less anxiety and issues, the better for you and for your pet. You want them to have a good time when eating the new food, and to see it as a good thing.
If you are at all anxious about feeding your pet the new food, or you try to change up too much at the same time, this will make the whole situation worse. Your pet will feel like something is off and be less willing to give it a try.
On the other hand, if you are optimistic and excited about the change, your pet will be happier about it as well.
Make sure that during this time, you add a lot of praise for your pet as well. This helps them see that the new food is a good thing and that they are doing a good job eating it.
Add a Little Human Food to the Mix
While you should be careful with this one, there are several human foods that are safe for your pet to consume, and adding them to the new food may help entice them to at least give it a try. For dogs, some of the foods they can enjoy include:
- Carrots: This includes cooked and raw
- Peanut Butter: Only done in moderation
- Eggs: This is a nice treat to help them eat up, though it does need to be cooked.
- Blueberries: This sweet snack is perfect to get them to eat their food.
- Popcorn: As long as you choose plain popcorn with no added ingredients, this is safe to use.
- Other Fruits: Pineapple, watermelon, and blackberries all fit on the list of foods your dog can enjoy.
There are also a few human foods that are safe for your cat to consume and may help entice them to eat up some of the new brands of pet food if they are being difficult on this. Some of the foods your cat can enjoy include:
- Salmon and chicken: In small amounts, these are a great treat to entice your cat with.
- Pumpkin: This is a high fiber and low calorie treat that will help keep your cat regular.
- Fruits: This is the perfect combination of sweet and healthy for your cat. Apples, blueberries, and bananas are great choices.
- Cheese: Unless your cat is lactose intolerant or the vet suggests something else, you can choose a few hard kinds of cheese to provide them. Gouda, Swiss, and cheddar are good options.
Watch for Any Bad Signs or Symptoms
When you change the food your pet eats, it is important to look for any bad signs or symptoms that will show up. Most pets are fine with the change, and as long as you keep the transition slow and smooth, you will be fine.
There are a few times when your pet may have food sensitivities and will react poorly to the new food. If you notice that they have itchy skin or an upset stomach, it is possible that food sensitivity is the problem. You can check the ingredients on the bag to see what may cause the problem. If this is the problem, then you will need to switch back until you can find a better food alternative.
If your dog seems to be sick or throwing up after switching to the new food, call your vet. This is a sign of a serious problem you need to take care of right away.
Simple Steps to Change the Food Brand
A gradual change is always better. Giving your pet between four to seven days to get used to the new food is often best to ensure they don’t get hurt and can keep healthy along the way. A good schedule to follow includes:
- Day 1 and 2: During these two days, your pet will mostly still eat their traditional food. You can measure out a small bit of the new food and mix it in well with the old food. Keep the amounts small.
- Day 3 to 5: After a few days to see how your pet is doing, it is time to add in a bit more of the food each day while removing the same amount of the current food. If you put ⅛ cup in the first two days, maybe add in ¼ cup for these few days and build up to ½ cup.
- Day 6 and 7: Continue with this process until all the pet food is switched over to the new brand. You may need to go on for a few days past seven, depending on how your pet reacts and how much food they eat. Once your pet exclusively eats the new food and none of the old, then the transition process is successful.
Reasons to Change Pet Food Brand
There are a few different reasons why you may decide to change the brand of pet food you give your pet. Some of the most common include:
The Age of Your Pet
As your pet gets older, you may need to change from the puppy or kitten food up to the adult version, and this change will need some of the same adjustments as we did with the different brands.
The time you make this switch will depend on your pet. Most dogs, for example, will be done within the first year and can make the transition, though some of the bigger breeds may need to wait until closer to two years. You can continue to give them the puppy version until their growth plates are sealed, as long as they don’t gain too much weight. Your vet can help you make this switch at the right time.
The rules are similar for kittens. Usually, by the time your kitten reaches a year old, they are considered a cat and can move to the adult brand. With larger breed cats, including the Maine Coon, you may need to wait until closer to 18 months to make the switch.
A Food Recall
In some situations, the pet food you like will have a recall, and you can no longer safely give it to your pet. When this happens, it is a good idea to switch over to a new brand to make sure you don’t cause any harm to your pet along the way. It only takes a few days to switch the food over, so this is a simple process but will require some new food too.
Health Concerns With Your Pet
If your pet has a special health condition of some kind, they need to lose weight, or they have an allergy to an ingredient found in their regular food, it may be time to switch pet food brands too.
The good news is there are many brands and types of pet foods you can choose to go with, so making the switch is easy. Always read the ingredient label to check that you not only avoid the ingredients your pet should no longer have but also to make sure you give them healthy and whole ingredients without the filler.
You Want Healthier Ingredients
When you go down the pet food aisle, you will notice there are many options on the types of food you can purchase. Not all are created equal. You need to look at the ingredients listed on each bag before purchasing it. Many are full of fillers and not enough of the healthy nutrients your pet needs.
The best foods have meat as the first ingredient. If you choose a pet food that does not have some kind of meat as the first ingredient, then this should be concerning. Consider upgrading. Other ingredients you should find in the pet food includes:
- Meat: This can be a wide variety of options, including rabbit, fish, venison, beef, and chicken. You want real meat, no meat fillers or substitutes.
- Healthy Carbs and grains: Avoid these if your pet has a health concern with these or an allergy, but most pets are fine consuming these. Avoid options like soy and corn and go for peas, barley, oats, and rice instead.
- Vegetables and fruits: These help provide your pet with some added vitamins and nutrients that are important.
- Fats: Make sure there are some healthy fats mixed in too. These help keep your pet warm, will help with digestion, and provide your pet with the energy they need. The right types of fats, like fish oils and chicken fat, will help keep their coat healthy too.
Negative Effects of Changing Pet Food
Most pets will be able to change to a new food brand with no problems. You just need to walk through the steps that we discussed and use some of the tips to help your pet make the adjustment. With a simple transition that happens over a few days, your pet will do well with the new food without problems.
However, some pets do run into issues when they change foods. This could be from the food, making them feel sick, some ingredient causing an allergy, or other concerns. If anything shows up, stop using the food and call your doctor. A few common issues that you may experience here include:
If you work on transitioning your pet out to a new food, they may experience diarrhea. This happens because the switches in diet may disrupt the intestinal bacteria for your pet. This will interfere a bit with their digestion and can bring out issues like an upset stomach in the pet. As a result, this can cause gas, loose and runny bowels, and stomachache.
The best way to avoid this is to do the food switch slowly. Doing it all at once is more likely to make this situation worse. Even with a slow transition, it may happen. This is not uncommon, and allowing your pet a few days to get through it can help them get back to normal.
For some pets, it is possible that a dietary switch can cause vomiting. If you see this happening and you just switched the food your pet eats, then the food is the likely culprit. If this happens more than once or twice after the food change, consider taking your pet into the vet to get checked out.
Best Pet Food Brands to Consider
Choosing the best food for your pet is always important. This will ensure they get all the nutrition they need while staying healthy. If you are looking to switch pet food but aren’t sure where to get started, give a few of these a try and see how your pet does.
Top Dog Food Brands
- Crafted Kibble: This provides a premium kibble your dog will love, with the ability to tailor the meals and plans based on your dog. There are many recipes to choose from, and it is simple to add to your budget.
- ACANA Dog Food: Compared to the rest of the industry, ACANA provides some of the best ingredients for your dog. The ingredients are locally sourced and made into foods the same day the company purchases them. This keeps everything fresh and good for your dog.
- FROMM Dog Food: This is a family owned and operated dog food manufacturer which allows them to hold some of the highest standards for quality ingredients along the way. This is a good option for those who want to include the food in a holistic nutrition plan for their dogs, and not spend an arm and a leg on it.
- Purina: Purina is a good choice for many dogs. They have varieties made for puppies, adults, and elderly dogs as well as for a variety of health conditions, making it a great choice for your dog throughout their whole life.
Top Cat Food Brands
- Blue Buffalo: This one works well for cats and dogs, so it is a great option for any pet you need to take care of. These are healthy, holistic, and all-natural. They include dry kibble and a variety of treats based on what your cat needs.
- Fancy Feast: This is a subsidiary of Purina, but provides a gourmet version of wet and dry cat food that tastes great and gives your cat all the nutrients they need. This company has been around since 1982 and is known for providing high-quality in all their cat foods.
- Purina Pro Plan Cat Food: Just like with the dog food, Purina has a number of options to help keep cats healthy. This Pro Plan Cat food is one of the best. It comes in many blends to help accommodate finicky taste budges and any special nutritional needs necessary. It is also in dry or wet form, depending on what your cat likes.
- Friskies: This provides nutritious and delicious food for your cat to ensure they stay strong and healthy all their life. There are also some good treats and games that will be perfect for any cat along the way.
There are many reasons why you will change the pet food brand your pet enjoys. They may need to go on a new diet, they may not tolerate their old food well, or they are ready to transition to the adult version of their food. Taking the transition slowly and treating it as a good thing is one of the best ways to help them enjoy the change and eat the food you want.
- Dog Food Insider: 6 Tips for Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog Food
- Chewy: Tips for Transitioning Your Pet to a New Food
- American Kennel Club: The Right Way to Switch Dog Foods
- PetMD: Dietary Reactions in Cats
- Pet Central: 15 Human Foods That are Safe for Cats
- Healthline; Can My Dog Eat This?
- Purina: How Should I Switch My Dog’s Food?
- Hills Pet: Helping Your Cat Transition to a New Food
- Wikipedia: Maine Coon
- Purina: When to Switch from Kitten Food to Cat Food
- PetMD: When Should You Switch from Puppy to Adult Dog Food
- Dog Food Insider: The Top 10 Dog Food Ingredients for Your Dog’s Good Health
- PetSmart: When Should I Change My Dog’s Diet?
- Amazon: ACANA Dog Food
- Amazon: FROMM Dry Dog Food
- Woof Whiskers: Brands for 2020
- Consumer Affairs: Find the Best Cat Food Brands
- Amazon: Purina Fancy Feast
- Amazon: Purina Pro Plan Cat Food
- Amazon: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Cat Food
- Amazon: Purina One SmartBlend
- Amazon: Friskies
- Crafted Kibble: Premium Dry Food
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