Introducing your cat or dog to a different type of food can be a slightly daunting proposition, especially if he or she has a sensitive tummy. A gradual transition is ideal, because it allows the animal’s gut flora or ‘good bacteria’ to build up for the new food.

In an ideal world, the transition to a new diet should take place over a period of four to seven days. Of course circumstances (and the quantity of old food you have left) will dictate how you make the transition – sometimes it can take even longer if you have a very finicky pet, and sometimes pets just refuse to touch their old food once they’ve had a taste of the new!

Here are some top tips for a successful transition to a new diet.

Start off by mixing a very small amount of the new food, with your pet’s original diet. For extremely sensitive pets, as little as a tablespoon of new food is fine but for most pets you can feed about one quarter new food with three quarters of the old.

Continue with this amount for the next couple of meals and if no signs of digestive upset occur, you can gradually begin increasing the ratio, so that you are feeding half and half original and new food. Feed this for a couple more meals and then phase out the old food completely so that a complete transition has been made.

If you do have to make an overnight switch for some reason, of if your pet still experiences some GI upset even with this gradual protocol, you can add some of our best selling digestive health supplement, Perfect Form supplement, which is made with a soothing blend of herbs that help combat diarrhea and gassiness. Or, you can always add in plain, live-culture yogurt which contains ‘good bacteria’ to help balance his GI flora during the transition.

Try to avoid making dietary changes during other periods of transition unless absolutely necessary (for example if you cannot locate the original food (or it got recalled) or if a medical reason or food allergy prevents you from continuing to feed what he was eating before.

Ideally, if you’ve brought home a new puppy or adopted a rescue dog, continue feeding the food he was eating in his former home for the first week or so, because new surroundings (even those much nicer than he was experiencing before) can trigger slight anxiety, which may make your pup more prone to digestive upset anyway. Similarly, it’s best to avoid new foods when away from home on road trips, or when you’re out of town and someone else is caring for your pet. Instead, make the change when most other aspects of your pet’s life are calm and settled.

Check out some other articles about pet food:
Choosing Pet Food 101
What is Dehydrated Pet Food?
Healthy Food Topper Ideas

© 2013 Lucy Postins & The Honest Kitchen This article may only be copied with prior written permission from the company. Reproductions must include credit to the author and a link to this website.