Changing your pet’s food can seem like an intimidating undertaking – how, why and when should I switch? More importantly, what will happen to my pet? Be sure to first consult your veterinarian about the best food for your pet and how to properly switch. Many veterinarians, like Dr. Ruth MacPete, recommend a grain-free food, especially for pets with allergies or dietary intolerances to specific grains. It is normal to not notice any immediate changes in your pet. However, in the long run, your pet will likely experience multiple benefits.
Skin & Coat
Unlike other health matters, the condition of your pet’s skin and coat is something that can be seen with the naked eye. We notice when their skin is red and dry, or their coat is dull and patchy – which many times leads to uncomfortable itchiness. Many pet allergies affect the skin and coat, so switching to a grain-free food that contains Omega-3’s and Omega-6 fatty acids can be beneficial. In about 6 weeks’ time, you should notice a gradual improvement in the smoothness of their skin, as the fatty acids will add luster to their coat.
Dr. Ruth Tip: Brush your pet regularly to strip dead fur and distribute natural oils through the healthy fur.
Healthy digestion is a critical, and sensitive, component of switching food. If your pup suffers from chronic flatulence or loose stool, then a diet change-up may be beneficial. After discussing with your veterinarian about the best method of transitioning to a new food (a “cold turkey” switch is not recommended), you should notice firmer, consistent stool and reduced gas. It’s important to note that different amounts of fiber and protein in the new food may alter the appearance of your dog’s stool.
Dr. Ruth Tip: Most experts recommend transitioning to a new food gradually over a period of 7-10 days. It’s a slow and steady process, but one that will decrease the chances of vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.
When we eat healthier, we have more energy – the same goes for our four-legged friends. Old age, a recent illness, or a stressful event can cause lethargy. Switching to a new food with increased levels of antioxidants can vitalize your pet. Antioxidant-rich diets not only boost your pet’s immune system, but his mood, too. After switching your pet’s diet, you may notice surges of energy, or a restored sense of vigor. A pet with more energy means a pet with more strength, plus increased longevity and happiness.
Dr. Ruth Tip: With increased energy levels come the need for increased activity. Invest in a new toy for your pet and devote time to play daily!
Switching to a new food can be extremely advantageous for our pets, if it’s carefully thought through and customized to your pet’s health conditions. Remember, if at any point your pet develops symptoms such as a loss of appetite, vomiting, loose stools, or other gastrointestinal issues, consult your veterinarian.