Signs Your Pet Needs New Food Find Out if You Need New Dog Food or New Cat Food

Signs Your Pet Needs New Food
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vet verified Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

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Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Oat Meal With Probiotics Sensitive Stomach Dry Puppy Food

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Having a sensitive system can be a not so fun experience for your beloved pet. Both you and your pet will be happier if you learn how to address stomach problems.

We all love our furry buddies, but it's not so pleasant when they have sensitive systems. Stepping in a warm pile of regurgitated food is enough to frustrate even the most loving pet parent. And sometimes, a stinky litter box can't be concealed, and the problem could require more than a stronger air freshener. Frequent stomach upsets could mean it's time for a new dog or cat food.

Maintaining your pet's digestive health is imperative to their happiness—even if they can't tell you that. Here are some signs that your furry friend needs a change in food, food routines, and/or food brands.

Frequent Upsets

All pets get sick, but a change in food brands is necessary when it happens frequently. Dogs get sick for various reasons, but frequent vomiting is not typical. Cats like to eat until they're full, and if they then go for a drink of water, which expands the dry food in the kitty's tummy, it can cause an overload. Filling up the food bowl and leaving for the day could be the root of the problem, so consider your feeding habits before you blame it on the kitty. Increasing the frequency of feedings can be time-consuming, but it can save a lot of time cleaning up the aftermath. Giving less food every four to six hours will likely decrease the chances that your pet's stomach will overfill. Also, consider restricting water consumption around food times.

Stinky Litter

If you've switched litter brands, tried new air fresheners, and still observe an unbearable odor, it's time to try something new. Stinky litter can signal digestive issues. The same goes for digestive upsets that result in loose or irregular bowels: if there's a problem, it's likely connected to your pet's diet.

Bad Attitude

Not to be confused with bad behavior, a cat or dog that exhibits uncharacteristic lethargy, tiredness, or lack of interest may require a change in food. Pay attention to your pet's mood, as it indicates how it is feeling.

Addressing the Problem

Switching foods can be tricky, but it is usually the solution for a sensitive stomach. Sometimes it's as simple as mixing wet and dry food or switching from one brand to another. Many dogs and cat food brands offer products for sensitive digestion, and you might have to try a few to find the right one. When switching foods, it's essential to make a slow transition. Simply switching foods from one day to the next is more likely to agitate your pet's system, so be sure to observe their behavior as they adjust to the new food.

Begin by introducing a few pieces of the new food into your pet's diet, and if all goes well, increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old. This can be done safely over about a week for most dogs and up to three weeks for the most finicky cats:

Start with 25% new and 75% old the first week, 50%-50% the second, and 75%-25% the third for picky cats. For dogs, make each transition every two to three days. Cat food designed for sensitive systems will be easier to digest and is usually only a bit more expensive than regular food.

When all else fails, make a trip to the vet. Ignoring ongoing problems like stomach upset can cause severe damage to your pet's health. While it may seem like your pet's digestive upsets are "normal," underlying issues may be more severe than a simple stomach bug. Talk to your vet about what's best for your pet, and don't be afraid to ask questions about specific problems. Tell your vet what is typical for your pet, the basics of their diet, and any other issues they may be having. The more information the vet has, the more likely you'll receive an accurate diagnosis.

Maintaining your pet's health can be frustrating as they can't tell you exactly what's wrong. Instead, look to their behavior. If they are sluggish or lethargic, there might be something wrong with their digestive system that only a veterinarian can diagnose. Schedule regular checkups for your furry friend to help prevent problems before they occur. Even if it takes some effort to calm your cat or dog's sensitive stomach, it can be done, and they will be endlessly thankful. Remember, a healthy pet is a happy pet!

How to Change Dog Food

There are all sorts of reasons you might need to change dog foods. Maybe your puppy is making the transition into adulthood. Perhaps you've noticed excessive licking, gas, troubling bathroom time, or an apparent upset stomach, and you're concerned the cause could be diet-related. Maybe the price went way up on your regular food, and you need to reevaluate your budget.

How to Change Your Dog's Food

Changing food isn't rocket science, but it shouldn't be taken lightly. Abruptly changing dog foods can cause your pet to suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea, or even more severe complications. Slow and steady wins the race when making significant changes to your dog's diet. As with most doggie caregiving, a bit of patience and attention can get the job done correctly.

You can start with a small quantity. This will also allow you time to try different food options. Suppose your cat was filling full because you were feeding her dry cat food, and she was drinking too much water after that. In such a situation, you can try giving her wet cat food so that she doesn’t need to consume much water and she can control her eating.

However, even the opposite can be true. Feeding too much wet food can also pose a challenge where you might want to try some dry food instead.

The same goes for the dogs. You can switch from wet to dry dog food or try something else. You could consider switching to some other dog food brands like Dogswell Nutrisca dry dog food.

There can be many reasons to change your dog or cat food to switch to something else that can be more pleasing and comfortable for both you and your pet.

How Often is Too Often to Change Your Dog's Food?

Avoid switching your dog's foods when there's not a compelling reason to do so -- no more than every 4-6 months or so -- to avoid digestive problems. Don't rely on whatever is on sale. Instead, choose a food that works for your budget, and stick with it for at least a few months.

Some experts suggest switching foods every so often, just in case one food is not meeting a particular requirement due to unknown nutrient interactions. In general, however, you should be able to stick with one food for an extended period. Don't fix what ain't broke.

Switching too often can lead to digestive problems in your pets. Suppose you switch dog food every now and then. It can make your dog gassy. But if that’s the case, you might want to get famotidine for dogs. It is the generic version of Pepcid that can help with stomach gas in dogs.

How Long Should it Take to Change Your Dog to a New Food?

You should allow at least 4 or 5 days to transition from old to new dog food. You can stretch things out longer if you're concerned about your dog's sensitive stomach or if you'd like to empty that giant bag of old food.

The best approach is a slow transition. Introduce the new food as you fade out the old food. A dramatic change can cause diarrhea or other more severe problems, so take your time.

The following chart outlines a healthy and manageable plan for the shortest transition you should attempt. If you prefer to make things last longer, spend an extra day or two at each phase.

Day Percent of Old Food Percent of New Food
1 75% 25%
2 50% 50%
3 25% 75%
4 0% 100%

If your dog’s stomach is too sensitive to a new food, you can try products that are specifically designed for such pets. You can go with Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach. The brand has various plans for stomach-sensitive dogs. Hence, you will certainly find a Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach food for your pet.

Tips for Successfully Switching Foods

  • If your dog resists the change, try mixing in small amounts of wet food or cooked meat to entice them. However, if your dog is not transitioning well, they may be trying to tell you something about their dislike of the new kibble. Try other brands like Nutro Essentials Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food. Consider applying a wet food topping.
  • In addition to switching out your dog's food over several days, make these transition meals smaller and more frequent to help ease the change.
  • Ensure selecting only the best dog and cat food brands so that your beloved pet doesn’t have to compromise with the quality and taste during the transition.
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