Adopting a new cat or dog means plenty of changes for both you and your pet. Many new pet parents will opt to feed their new addition something different from what they were eating at the shelter or foster home. However, abruptly switching foods can upset your dog or cat’s digestive system, so it’s best to make this change slowly. Here are some tips from our friends at Purina on how to switch your pet’s food so that the transition is a healthy and happy one.
Switching Your Dog’s Food
Although you’ll be anxious to see the difference your new food can make in your dog, please allow 7 – 10 days to ease the transition from his current food. Each day, simply feed a little less of the previous food and a little more of the new food until you’re feeding the new food exclusively.
Introduce new food to your dog in small amounts, still primarily feeding him his old food. Measure the amount of new food that you’re adding in and make sure to remove an equal amount of your dog’s current food. (For example if you are adding in a 1/8 a cup of the new food, remove 1/8 a cup of the current food.)
Feed a little bit more of the new food to your dog each day, while continuing to remove the equivalent amount of the current food. After about 6-7 days, the new food should make up the majority of your dog’s meal. Continue increasing the amount of the new food and decreasing your dog’s former food until you are feeding the new food exclusively.
Switching Your Cat’s Food
Cats have sensitive stomachs and may become ill or stop eating if their food is changed abruptly. This can happen when a new food alters the intestinal environment, which may lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and/or refusal to eat—that’s why it’s best to gradually wean your cat off the current food and onto the new one.
Try using the “1/4 every 4 days” rule: Add 25% new food every four days until your cat is completely transitioned to the new diet. So feed your cat 75% current food and 25% new food for the first four days, 50% current food and 50% new food for the next four days, 25% “old” food and 75% new for the following four days—and then your cat can be fully transitioned to the new food!