Changing Your Pet's Food

February 13, 2006

My dog recently got over severe diarrhea and vomiting. She spent 2 nights in a very good animal hospital in Springfield, MA. The doctor did numerous tests but found no answers. They believe it was a virus but the cause remained unfound. We changed her diet to Hill's I/D and had great results. She loves it and it loves her so check with your vet if you should have the same problem.

By Steve from Shelburne Falls, MA

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There may be a time when you will need to transition your dog or cat to a new food. This process is fairly easy, but does require a bit more than buying the new food and simply serving it to your pet.

dog at table with plate and flatware

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November 26, 2008

My daughter's dog died of "bloating". She is blaming herself because she changed from homemade food to science diet. She feels that she killed her baby. I am sure that it would take a while for the change to cause death. Her poor baby died a horrible death in her arms. Does anyone have any advice?


Carole from Crystal Lake, IL


By Kristi (Guest Post)
November 26, 20080 found this helpful

Bloat is NOT caused by any type of food. It is a condition that involves the swelling of the stomach. According to my vet it is caused by eating too fast, too much, or a combination of both. I have a bloodhound who we had to get a special bowl because she would eat her food in a few seconds, then throw up. One time she didn't throw up and she got bloat so we had to take her to the vet. This is not her fault, it was not caused by the brand of food. The only thing to do is console her and inform her that she DID NOT kill her baby.

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November 26, 20080 found this helpful

Let her grieve and be angry or sad as she needs.

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November 26, 20080 found this helpful

I am very sorry to hear about her loss.

Did changing the type of dog food kill the dog - no. However, the way she changed the food could have been a contributing factor IF the dog already had a genetic predisposition to bloat. Food changes for certain breeds should be done gradually; not suddenly and certain ingrediants should be avoided for these breeds. See "Prevention" in the link below.

Here is a link with everything you need to know about dogs and bloating.

This link also lets you know which types of dogs are more prone to bloat, symptoms of bloat (so you can rush the animal to the vet), and steps to prevent bloat from occurring in the first place.

My condolences.

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November 26, 20080 found this helpful

I,too, just lost my beloved Rottweiller about a month ago from bloat. The vet told us it was from eating too fast and not from food at all. There are certain breeds that are prone to bloat, and was told that sometimes you can catch the symptoms before they're really bad. Please don't think it was anything you did!!

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By Christi (Guest Post)
November 26, 20080 found this helpful

So sorry to hear of your loss. I have a mastiff and they are prone to bloat. My parent's mastiff died from bloat when she was 8. If large breed dogs eat a lot of food and then drink a lot of water, it can cause bloat. The type of dog food does matter. Dog food that is mainly grain will be more likely to cause bloat. If you feed your dog a brand that is processed w/little grain, that is better for your dog. Grains in the belly just puff up. Plus, it is more healthy for your dog to not eat dog food full of grain.

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November 29, 20080 found this helpful

First i am so very sorry for your loss.
Losing a beloved pet is right up there with losing a child.

I would like to thank 'speakeasy' for the link to the site about dogs and bloat. It is very informative. I tried sending a note to her but it wouldn't go thru.

We have goats we have lost to bloat so we are trying to learn as much as possible to prevent anymore deaths. We saved one young nanny recently.

We have a 4 yr old dog, a Lab, 'Leroy' who has a bad rash that our vet thinks is an allergy so she put him on predisone. It makes him bloat very badly and pass horrible smelling gas. I took him off of it and he's gotten much better, except for the mystery rash. i had no idea dogs can die from the bloat.

I would die if Leroy died from something i could have prevented if i'd only known how.
'Speakeasy', you not only may have saved his life but my own also!
Thank you for the link.

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By rainynurse (Guest Post)
December 30, 20080 found this helpful

I know how much it hurts to lose your baby. I lost my beloved SPCA rescue after 18 wonderful yrs. together. My heart truly goes out to you.
I'm not so sure if changing a food could KILL a dog, but as my veterinarian once told me is (for your, hopefully, NEW, future baby) is that it is BEST if you do it slowly. Mix in a little of your NEW food in with mostly the old, etc., progressively.

I now have a 14 year beagle that is hypothyroid and looks like she is pregnant. She is not "bloated" per se' she is sick. There may have been some underlying cause to your loves death. PLEASE. DO NOT blame yourself. Once you grieve, and eventually remember the joy your baby brought into your life, get a rescue who will always love you (I always do rescues:)

If you EVER get concerned, take the dog to a vet. If can't afford to "pay at the time of services" apply for a CARE CREDIT card that most vets will take.(THAT one is MY biggest bill:)

God Bless You and give you strength to deal with your loss.
Again, don't blame yourself.There MAY have been other health issues you did NOT know about (Like a bowel obstruction). I happen to be a nurse,too.

Your dog knows you love her/him, and I know this. ALL dogs go to heaven!
With my best regards, Lorraine

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February 25, 2007

My cat was started on a diet of a rather expensive cat food a while back and I want to try and start him on a slightly cheeper, but still nice food (fancy feast versus friskies if it makes any difference.) I have tried to just give him the new food and this is apparently the wrong thing to do seeing that he brought it back up. Is there any way that I can make this easy on his stomach and easier for my cleanup?

Sara from CT


February 25, 20070 found this helpful

Forgive me if this runs long but I have a few things to say on this subject as I am the mommy of 3 kitties, one with a "horking" (that's what my 6 yr old daughter calls it) problem.

1st off neither of those foods are "higher quality" I've found out, they are both full of fillers and basic
crud left over from the cutting floors of hundreds of meat processing plants. When you see the words chicken by product (or any other meat with by product) we are talking anything from the feathers, poop that they excret and lips (ok, chickens don't have lips but the pigs do!). And then the foods are filled with lots and lots of carbohydrate fillers, essentially the leftovers of grain milling too.

I found this out after having just 1 cat that was just happy being 1. Then I got another, the 1 was NOT happy but adjusted, but was stressed, so I looked into changing her diet. Well then another kitty came walking by my house and never left (the other 2 are strictly inside) he lives outside, but the 1 was really NOT happy. She started licking her tummy a lot, bald to be exact, so I started her on Natural Balance (Dick Van Patten, yep, THAT Dick) food. It cost about $13 a bag, BUT I went through a lot LESS in the months I used that than I would have with the cheap food, they have more nutritionally sound food they eat less of it. Neither of them were 100% going bananas over it, but they both looked good (the 2 kitty was fat and starting to slim down some). But alas, the horking continued.

So after some $500 later turns out my 1 needed to be switched to an even more expensive food, that is only vet prescribed!!!! I have a call into the vet to ask her if I heard her phone call wrong, either 1 has IBS for cats or the food can cause symptoms that mimic IBS. Either way, this new food is just about only rabbit and peas and is twice the cost of the "expensive food!!!"

Either way, the only way to switch a kitty to a new food is to slowly do it, just switching can cause havoc on their system. Think if we ate only rice, day in and day out for months, then all of a sudden we ate only wheat pasta, no matter what our systems would NOT be happy for a while. Since there are so many types of Friskies flavors out there, try them out. My kitties get a scoop of wet food in the am (the vet said no to this really, but I still spoil them a tiny bit with tuna for kitties from Trader Joe's at least I know it's only tuna and not fillers) they like just about any flavor of friskies unless it's the sliced stuff (that they just lick the gravy and are done). The 1 cat used to eat wally world canned food, now she sticks her nose up to it, go figure! Either way, try to get a food that is nutritionally sound for them, may seem more "expensive" in the beginning, but not only is it better for our companions but they really do use less of it.

Sorry if that was long, I've done hours of research on the food thing, I am really tired of the horking!!!!!

P.S. She HAS horked 3 times since the new diet started but only in 2 weeks, that is a lot better than 3 times in as many days!!! Good luck!

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By susan (Guest Post)
February 27, 20070 found this helpful

Anytime you change a cat's diet, you have to do it very, very slowly. I usually make the change over a two week period, beginning by adding a tiny bit of the new food to the old, the next day a little bit more, etc., until it's about half-n-half. Then you can usually speed up the process. Good luck with your kitty!

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By Grandma Jan (Guest Post)
February 27, 20070 found this helpful

I agree with every thing in the above reply. Using cheap, low quality food is not inexpensive in the long run...... I've had many cats . One lived to be 22+ years and my present kitty is almost 19 yrs. and is going strong!! She is on prescription food from the vet as she has had kidney disease for the last couple of years. I also have dogs...same goes for them. The higher quality foods cost more per pound, but the pets eat less and an added bonus...poop less!! Introduce the new food gradually to avoid stomach upsets.

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February 27, 20070 found this helpful

Friskies! Hork!! Even I wouldn't eat that. Cheap and thrifty are not always the same thing, unless you're my Dad. He was a champ.

Go to a pet store, as in a large chain. Animals eat less of the "expensive" stuff, and fewer vet visits result. For cats, get the lowest ash content you can, to protect their kidneys. Don't get anything that contains "by products." Why are you paying for noses and ears and all that stuff? That's not thrifty.

Read the labels on the cans. Use your computer to read about each brand. It won't take long until you know what you want. Stock up when there's a sale.

My cats lived until more than 18 years. Cuddle that kitty.

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By Johnny (Guest Post)
March 26, 20070 found this helpful

Mix the old with the new -- 1/2 and 1/2 - - until your cat gets used to it. If that doesn't work try just a little bit of the new mixed in at a time.

And then slowly bring it up 100% all new.

Take care,
Johnny Of the Web People

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April 16, 20070 found this helpful

thanks for the replies everyone!
so, i bought Boris, (my big kitty) some nice healthy (biproduct free) cat food. it turns out that it was actually less expensive than the fancy feast. i started him half and half for a few days and then put him on it fully and he loves it!
and so far, hes not getting sick either!
so thanks so much for the suggestions!

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When changing my cat from Hill's Prescription ID (dry diet) to Van Patten's Natural Balance, should it be gradual, or can I just take the old food away completely? I wondered if there could be a stomach problem?

Sharon from Bonita Springs, FL


December 3, 20080 found this helpful

Everything I've seen on this subject says to do it gradually. Make about 1/4 of the serving the new food to start. Every 4-5 days add a lttle more new and a little less old, watching for digestive upsets (constipation, diarrhea, vomiting) as you go. Within 2-3 weeks the changeover will be complete.

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

Mary T is right; plus you could double-check with your vet.

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December 5, 20080 found this helpful

Add some new gradually to the old. If you dont do it this way the dog will more than likely get diarreha. Check with the vet first. ~Janette~

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December 5, 20080 found this helpful

Gradual changes are the best. Sudden changes could cause gastrointestional problems, which neither your dog nor you want.

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