Fido and Tabby’s Big Switch

Fido and Tabby’s Big Switch

by: Josie Noecker, Pet Food Buyer

Sometimes we come face to face with one of the greatest challenges of all: switching our pet to a new food diet. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but when it happens it can lead you on a journey of label reading and transitions galore. The big question, what kind of diet do you choose?

Dry kibble is the most common diet. There is a lot of controversy over strict, all-kibble diets. Some believe them to be fine, others say that kibble is not a choice food at all.  Research and do what feels right for you. Regardless, I would recommend looking into finding the best quality dry food you can for your pet. Better quality means less by-products, dangerous preservatives, additives, and meals.

Moist food is one of the better food diets to feed your pet, and highly recommended for cats since they may not drink enough water to stay hydrated. Consider a higher-quality, more holistic brand of moist cat food to ensure they get enough protein instead of meals and by-products. Brands that are gluten-free may also be beneficial to your pet’s health.

Home cooked is one step away from raw and has lightly cooked meat instead of raw meat. This is not to be confused with people food. You wouldn’t add the same spices and herbs to these meals as you would yours. If fed exclusively, this diet should also be supplemented to ensure all vitamin and mineral levels are met.

Finally, a raw meat diet.  This should also be supplemented with some vitamins and minerals to ensure proper balanced nutrition. (Especially cats, who cannot create Taurine naturally.)

As you can see, there are many options. Some are obviously more convenient than others. While still others ensure that you really wouldn’t have to worry about pet-food recalls. However, you must still watch out for any food recalls that would affect the ingredients you use. The good news is you can feed any combination of the above diets until you find what is right for you and your pet.

For more information on diets and wellness of your pet, I suggest the following books that we currently have at the Co-op: Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, and Whole Health for Happy Cats by Sandy Arora. Also take a look around at the Co-op for any ingredients you might use for home cooked or raw diets. Organic ingredients are found all over the store, even in bulk, and would be an added benefit to your pet’s diet.

Keep in mind that all animals react differently to a sudden change in diet. Some may not go through any digestive upset while others might be the complete opposite. You will most likely find yourself paying more attention to the bathroom habits of your pet than ever before. Honestly, it is one of the best ways to see if there is something amiss, diet or otherwise.

For the transition, this is the formula I have seen recommended the most and I would say is one of the best.

  • Start with 25% of the new food mixed with 75% old food for a course of 2-3 weeks.
  • After the second to third week with no issues you can up the percentage to 50-50. Do this for 2-3 weeks, but if there are any digestive upsets or rejection of food, go back to the previous mix numbers for another week and try again.
  • If there are no issues after 2-3 weeks, then make the mixture of new food 75% and old 25%. If this goes well for 2-3 weeks without switching the percentages, you are ready to make a 100% switch.

The biggest things to remember are to be patient and consistent. Some animals take change with paws wide open, others tend to run from it like there is no tomorrow. Here’s to a healthy and happy pet.