We speak to veterinary surgeon Dr Sophie Bell to learn about the safest way to switch pet food, including how owners should think about moving to a raw diet.
For most kinds of food, it’s worth building in a transition period so your pet gets used to it over time. Many pet food brands provide information and even switching packs to help with this period.
How to switch your pet’s food brand
Gradually switching over 7-10 days is often best. Many brands included in our pet food brands you may not have heard of article, offer a transition pack or advice on switching to their food.
Start by adding a little bit of the new brand to your pet’s existing meal. Then, over the 7-10 days start changing the proportions until you’ve fully switched to the new food. Make sure you keep the meals the same size so you don’t end up overfeeding your pet.
A switching period may not be essential but it can help your pet transition to a new kind of food.
Some subscription brands can start you on a 2-week transition pack. That means a 4-week order won’t go to waste if they didn’t enjoy it.
How to switch my pet from puppy to adult, or adult to senior pet food
Once again, it's about giving your pet the best chance to adapt to the food.
This change in diet can come with a slight change in ingredients. Most puppy food will have a higher meat protein content than adult food, although this isn’t always the case. Therefore a gradual change is not essential but it will still help your puppy or adult change into their new food.
Our veterinary experts recommend that you transition over 7-10 days, but it is worth seeking advice specific to you pet, from your vet.
How to switch my pet from dry to wet food, or wet to dry food
Creating a transition period gives your pet a chance to get used to the change, and will allow you as the pet parent to spot any changes in their behaviour or health.
When going from dry to wet, it is recommended that you give your pet 7-10 days to phase into their new food, seeing as wet and dry food can have varying meat and water contents. Making the switch could upset your pet if introduced without transition.
Switching to a Raw Food Diet
This guide is designed to help you make the best decisions for your pet. But raw food is not right for every cat or dog so make sure you do your research and discuss dietary changes with a vet first. If you would like to learn more about raw food, click here to read about what owners need to know about raw.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to switching to a raw food diet. Slight variances in health and age can mean the process you follow will differ.
Switching to raw food for a healthy pet
Switching to a raw food diet for a healthy dog is relatively simple, according to Dr Sophie Bell you can do a straight swap, with no transition period. But you want to ensure that the food is kept and prepared correctly.
Others suggest a fast day to stop the mix of processed foods and raw foods, but this is not recommended for small breeds and puppies.
Another method is to mix in the raw with the current diet over a few days. But if you are planning to do this, feed the raw and the kibble meals separately to help aid digestion, as the two together can cause GI (Gastrointestinal) upset.
Switching to raw food for a pet with underlying health conditions
If your pet has any underlying health conditions, it may be best to introduce raw food gradually. But before you consider switching, please check with your vet and follow their advice.
Switching to raw for a pet with epilepsy
The change should be gradual over a couple of weeks, slowly increasing the amount of raw food. This is because processed foods contain more salt (sodium), which causes a higher loss of bromide. This means epileptic dogs who are on potassium bromide medication are likely to need more of it on a processed diet.
If you are planning to switch your pet with epilepsy over to raw food, this must be discussed with a vet so they can monitor any changes.
The switch has to be gradual so it doesn’t dramatically change the effects of the medication.
Epileptic dogs should have regular blood tests when they have completed their transition and changed diet.
Adopting raw food at an early age
Pets can transition to raw at any stage in life.
If it is introduced at an earlier stage in life, it is more likely to be an easier process as they will not have been used to any other options.
So if you are considering getting a pet, thinking about the diet you would like them to be on, and starting them on it from day one, could help in the long run.
This article is created to help make you aware as a pet parent what implications there are when changing your food and help you make the best decisions for your cat or dog.
In general, it’s best to give your pet time to transition to a new food. And if you are still uncertain on how and if you should transition because of their own health condition or if your pet is a fussy eater, speak to your vet for further advice.