Feeding a New Food
Three food nutrients – moisture, fat and fiber – commonly have the largest effect on transition feeding and diarrhea, and must be carefully controlled during diet changes. If a new food is rapidly introduced the result can be undesired stool changes, but this can be avoided or minimized by using a transition period in which the new food is slowly introduced while the old food is phased out.
The transition period required will vary based on the degree of differences between the new and old foods as well as individual pet preferences. In general, one week is a good minimum length of time to transition to a new food.
If at any step in the transition, the pet experiences undesirable stool changes, the previous transition step should be extended for at least an additional two days. If the pet continues to have undesired stool changes, especially if poor appetite preceded the diet change, a veterinarian should be consulted to ensure that no underlying problems need to be addressed.
|Day||Amount to feed of Previous Food||Amount to feed of New Food|
|1 & 2||75% of calories||25% of calories|
|3 & 4||50% of calories||50% of calories|
|5 & 6||25% of calories||75% of calories|
|7||100% of calories||0% of calories|
Feeding the Appropriate Amount
In addition to changes in nutrients, feeding excessive calories can result in undesired stool changes. Therefore, it is important to adjust the volume of the new food to match the pet’s current caloric intake.
For example, if your pet was previously fed two cups a day of a food providing 300 kcal/cup (for a total of 600 kcals/day), a new food providiing 400 kcals/cup should be fed at 1 1/2 cups per day to provide an equivalent amount of calories and prevent overfeeding.
With the right food, transitional period and amount to feed, any pet can happily and safely make the transition to a new food.
–Dr. Sally Perea, Senior Nutritionist, Natura, 2008