Logo: nutrition

How To Switch Pet Foods

How To Switch Pet Foods

How to Switch Pet Foods Overview

This handout will help you learn the recommended method of transitioning a dog or cat to a new food. You can also read on to discover how to avoid upsetting your pet’s digestive system and make sure they want to eat their new food.


Download our How to Swith Your Pets Food Handout for guidelines on how how to switch your pet to a new food.

How to Switch Pet Food Handout Summary

There could be several reasons why it might be time to switch your dog or cat to a different food. When making this type of transition, it’s best to do so slowly. Most pets won’t react well if one day they’re eating a certain brand and then next day, their bowl has something completely different in it.

Pet owners should use a transition schedule for changing pet food.

The best way to transition food is to gradually mix the two diets together, increasing the new diet over the span of a week, until your pet is only eating the it’s new food.
  • Day 1 & 2
    • Old Diet – 75%
    • New Diet – 25%
  • Day 3 & 4
    • Old Diet – 50%
    • New Diet – 50%
  • Day 5 & 6
    • Old Diet – 25%
    • New Diet – 75%
  • Day 7
    • New Diet – 100%

Consequence of Changing Food Too Quickly

If you owner switches out a dog or cat food too quickly, your pet may experience food refusal where they don’t eat the new food. It could also trigger a digestive response from your pet, including:
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Excess gas
  • Constipation

Complications with Transitioning Pet Food

If your pet is having digestive issues during a food transition, slow the rate at which you are increasing the new diet. It’s very rare, but if your dog or cat develops a more serious sign of distress, take away all food and call your veterinarian. Often, this type of distress will resolve itself in about 12 hours. If it lasts longer than 12 hours you should take your pet in to see a veterinarian.

Also call your veterinarian if your pet refuses to eat for 24 hours or more. They may need to consult on the transition. There are a couple techniques to help your pet comfortably start eating a new diet.
  • Offer your pet some of his or her new food from your hand. It will seem like a treat and special coming from your hands.
  • Add a little water to dry food, or warm water to canned food. This will help the foods aroma and texture.

Learn More

A pet with kidney issues may take longer than others to transition to a new food. Discuss a special two-week transition schedule with your Banfield veterinarian. Contact your local Banfield Pet Hospital to ask questions regarding a diet change, or schedule and appointment with your veterinarian.

You can also ask your vet about the Banfield Optimum Wellness Plan. With several plans, the pet experts at Banfield can help find the one best fit for your dog or cat, to help offer the best preventive care. All Optimum Wellness Plans include unlimited office visits and early screening for serious illnesses.

You can also find more educational information regarding your pet’s food and health in the Nutrition section of Banfield.com.