By Sherry L. Granader.
Adopting a pet can be exciting and fun for you and the entire family, however bringing an adopted pet home for the first time takes kindness and patience as each of you gets used to each other. In addition to getting used to its new surroundings, eating a new dog food may take some getting used to. More people are paying attention to the ingredient list found on the label of pet food. If you are switching your pet to a new, healthier food while it is a great idea, it needs to be done slowly. Otherwise, your pet could experience excess gas, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or other stomach upset.
Like in humans, intestinal bacteria plays a major role in both general health and helps your pet digest their food. When a new food is introduced, it can change both the type and number of bacteria in the intestines causing a distressed and unhappy digestive system. Changing to a new food must be done slowly over the course of several days.
A gradual change can be accomplished by making a mixture of 75% of the old food with 25% of the new food for at least the first 3-4 days. Gradually make a 50-50 mixture for another 3-4 days until you are adding only 25% of the old food with 75% of the new food. When you notice that your pet is eating well and feeling good with this progressive change, then it should be fine to go ahead with 100% of the new dog food.
There are many reasons for switching dog food, especially if your pet is dealing with or has been diagnosed with a specific disease. Also, growing from a puppy to an adult or even a senior dog make it necessary to switch dog foods. Sometimes you realize that the dog food you have been feeding your pet is not the best choice for him or her after all.
Switching food gradually is actually common knowledge, however this can have different meanings for many people. Your dog may be one of those that nothing he or she eats seems to bother them. They can swallow a bowling ball and it doesn’t seem to affect their digestive system. Switching from a food made from beef to one that is chicken-based does not usually present any issues, however some pets can have sensitive stomachs.
The last thing anyone wants to do is have a pet lose his or her appetite, develop diarrhea or vomit. If this does occur during the process of switching dog food, then stop the new food and call your veterinarian for other recommendations. Pets dealing with kidney disease, bladder stones, heart failure or food allergies may require a completely different food altogether. Sometimes prescription foods need to be administered immediately so your pet can benefit from its nutrients or a probiotic may be added to your pet’s regimen if there is gastrointestinal distress.
Other reasons for switching pet food is if your dog is a picky eater or might be suffering from arthritis or other chronic health condition. By gradually mixing new food in with the old can help your pet get used to the taste of a new food. Of course, if you notice loose stools or constipation, it might be necessary to slow down the rate at which you switch the food.
If any health problems or concerns occur with feeding your pet, consult your veterinarian for the best eating plan for your dog. Like people, one size does not fit all. A gradual approach is usually best, especially when it comes to an adopted pet.
Reviewed and approved by Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM
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