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Throughout your cat or dog’s life, you can expect to switch up their diet several times to meet their changing nutritional needs. But how will you know when it’s time to change your pet’s food? If any of these five signs apply to your pet, it’s time to shop for something new and delicious.
5 Signs It’s Time To Change Your Pet’s Food
1. Your baby is growing up.
If your puppy or kitten isn’t so little anymore, it might be time to switch to an adult or all-life-stages food. The right age to switch to adult cat food or adult dog food varies depending on your pet’s breed and size, but generally, you can expect to switch by the time they’re a year old if they’re small-to-medium sized. For large dogs, your vet may recommend staying on puppy food until their second birthday.
2. Your senior has entered their golden years.
As cats and dogs get older, they gain excess weight more easily, may lose muscle mass, and most eventually develop arthritis in one or more joints. Switching to a senior pet food is optional, but it can be a great way to support your pet’s changing needs.
3. Your pet is getting extra “fluffy.”
If your pet is overweight or obese, simply cutting down their meals isn’t the best way to help them get in shape. Smaller portions may not fulfill your pet’s nutritional requirements, and they may feel hungrier throughout the day. A low-calorie pet food can help your cat or dog lose weight while helping them stay energized. If your pet currently eats dry kibble, consider high protein, high moisture, low carb options like canned, freeze-dried, and dehydrated foods.
4. Your pet has been eating the same food every day.
Feeding a rotational diet can increase gut microbiome diversity, promote a healthy appetite, and even prevent food sensitivities. It can be as simple as cycling through 3 to 4 foods each time it’s time to restock. Make sure to use the last few days’ worth to gradually transition between recipes to avoid gastric upset in pets with sensitive tummies.
5. Your pet has symptoms of food sensitivities.
Cats and dogs can develop sensitivities to ingredients in the food. The most common ingredients that trigger sensitivities are protein sources like beef, chicken, and fish, but grains, legumes, and even synthetic vitamins and preservatives can cause issues.
Symptoms like itching, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea and recurring ear infections can point to food insensitivity. Switching foods can help, but you’ll need to see your veterinarian first to rule out other causes and treat immediate concerns - for example, an ear infection can become serious if not treated by a vet. Then, to prevent recurring symptoms, you can use a 5Strands At-Home Intolerance Test to find out which ingredients to avoid.