When Should You Review Your Pet’s Diet?

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Dogs and cats don’t seek variety in their diets the way people do. So while taste cravings or change of pace don’t generally dictate a switch in foods, there are some factors that could prompt you to review your pet’s diet and make a change.

The most common time for a change in diet occurs when your puppy or kitten enters adulthood, stops growing and has different dietary needs. When the growth period stops depends on your pet’s age, size, breed, growth rate and current health status. With most pets, this change takes place around 1 year of age. For some pets, however, when they stop growing can happen earlier or later. In small breeds such as the Chihuahua, growth may stop at around 9 months of age; large breeds like the Great Dane can continue to grow until 18 to 24 months of age. Your veterinarian can recommend the best age and time to change your pet’s diet from a growth formulation to a maintenance food. Remember, puppy and kitten formulations are designed for growth whereas adult diets are created to maintain a healthy body weight. If your pet continues to eat a growth formulation after growth has stopped, this can lead to obesity and certain orthopedic disorders.

There are other reasons why you might need to review what you’re feeding your pet and make a change in diet. For example, your pet may be suffering from one of the following disease and condition and have a need for nutritional support:

  • Kidney disease
  • Bladder stones
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Food allergies
  • Recurrent skin issues
  • Persistent hairballs
  • Chronic gastrointestinal issues
  • Heart disease


If you do determine that you need to change your pet’s diet, one of the most important factors to consider is that it should not be done abruptly. A sudden change in diet can cause an upset stomach and/or diarrhea because the bacterial environment in your pet’s intestinal tract can be affected. Switching your pet’s food should be done gradually over the course of one to two weeks to give your pet time to adjust. Download our helpful handout for tips on transitioning pets to a new food.

Learn more

For more information on nutrition, read the articles below or talk with your local Banfield veterinarian about your pet’s individual dietary needs.