How to Transition Your Pet to a New Food
If you are transitioning your cat or dog for the first time, here are some tips and tricks to help eliminate tummy upset.
As with any food transition, it is important to ease your pet into it. Switching to a new food too fast may cause digestive issues for your pet, which is no fun for anyone involved. Every pet will transition a little differently, but it can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks until your pet can be fed an exclusively raw diet. Start by replacing a small portion of their usual diet with raw food and see how that goes. Then keep adding a little more raw to each meal as you slowly decrease the amount of their previous food. You can adjust the transition speed in response to how your pet is doing. Watch for any signs of vomiting and/or loose stools, as these may be indications that you are transitioning a bit too quickly.
The length of time will depend on a few things:
- How sensitive the animal’s stomach is
- The quality of food they have been fed previously
- The age of the pet
- The pet’s interest in food variety
If the animal has a sensitive stomach, IBD, or otherwise has trouble with changes in their diets, you will want to transition nice and slowly. For a sensitive dog, it can be good to have them start with the very basics – with our gentle goat milk yogurt. A little of that introduced to the stomach can go far in preparing the body to handle larger amounts of raw foods.
If you have been feeding a grain-based food, your pet's stomach may have a bit of a shock when they are first introduced to the nutritionally-dense raw food diet. You will want to take it slowly, so you can avoid any diarrhea or stomach upset.
The general recommendation is to start with ¼ of Steve’s Real Food and ¾ of their previous food. Monitor the stools of your companions, and as long as they stay nice and firm and no diarrhea is present, you can continue to slowly add more Steve’s and reduce the amount of the previous food until the process is complete. For dogs, this can take anywhere from a few days to 6 weeks, and for cats it can take up to a year (finicky little dears).
Tricks for Picky Dogs
The human’s attitude helps, too. Try to avoid a tough love approach by staying positive and encouraging your pet so they know the new food is a good thing!
Cats who have eaten nothing but dry foods previously may be a challenge to switch to fresh food. Many cats are very opinionated and imprint on food at an early age. Cats who already eat other foods (real meat, fruits, vegetables) will be much less of a project. It might take days, or it might take months, but it’s worth the effort!
The most important thing to remember about cats is that you CANNOT use the tough love approach. Cats will starve themselves, and some severe conditions can occur if cats do not eat for an extended period.
The “slow and successful method” If you are feeding only dry kibble, introduce canned and reduce the dry. Take some Steve’s Real Food and mix in the regular canned food you know your cat will eat. Test it on your kitty and increase the canned food until they are willing to eat it. Every time you feed, do this, and you will find you can gradually add more raw though again it might take several months.
In the meantime, offer bits of other kinds of fresh food they like to eat – bacon, goat milk, salmon, etc. This slow method has proven to be the most successful for cats. However, if you have a cat that needs a little more work, consider the following tricks: