A change in dog food, or dietary transition, as the name suggests, consists of changing your dog’s food from one type of diet to another. You may need to change dog food brand, flavour, switch from dry food to wet food or vice versa, or switch from industrial food to household rations or a raw diet... To sum it up: Where there’s a change in dog food, there's a transition!

And, when you change dog food, it should be implemented with caution. Why? Quite simply, because it takes much longer for a dog or cat's intestinal flora to adapt than it does for humans, who are more used to eating a variety of foods! Therefore, any change in dog food should be implemented gradually.

Physiological Reasoning

First of all, when your pet eats the same meal every day, their stomach and digestive tract get used to the composition of said meal. So, in this regard, it's important not to overlook the role of the intestinal flora, which is made up of vital bacteria that inhabit the small intestine and the colon. The intestinal floral has several key roles:

  • it breaks down poorly digestible foods to help the body get the most out of them;

  • it supplies the intestinal cells with energy, in particular by fermenting soluble fibres;

  • it produces vitamins and protects against harmful bacteria;

  • it breaks down toxins and drugs and supports the immune system.

The intestinal flora is considered to influence both the physical state, e.g. overweight or malnutrition, and the psychological state, e.g. depression or stress.

In humans, there are about 10 million bacteria per gram from several thousand species... while in dogs or cats, there are only 10,000 bacteria from 500 different species! This explains why, in pets, it's the stomach that does most of the digestion work. As their intestine is much shorter, it can't process such a wide variety of foods. This means that the intestinal flora of our domestic carnivores is more fragile and sensitive to change than ours, which adapts much faster.

Changing your dog’s food over the course of a few days, instead of abruptly, allows you to gradually change the composition of the waste material treated by their intestinal flora and, therefore, to limit any disturbances and/or digestive disorders which may occur as a result.

The Usefulness of Probiotics

To support a change in dog food and avoid, as far as possible, an imbalance of the intestinal flora, you can supplement your pet's diet with prebiotics and probiotics. These food supplements contain a considered mixture of bacteria and yeast, which stimulate the bacteria found in the intestine.

Probiotics in dry form are preferable, as these are more resistant and easier to store. The dry powder will be “reactivated” in the animal's digestive tract. We recommend that you use probiotics every day during a dietary transition, as they do not stay in the intestine for long. The most suitable strains are as follows: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Enterococcus faecium, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

In addition, some brands, like Fortiflora, can enhance the palatability of a ration and help persuade fussy animals to try new food.


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The Difference in Dietary Transitions for Dogs and Cats

A dietary transition will need to be handled differently, depending on whether you have a dog or cat, for the simple reason that dogs and cats have different stomachs and needs.

👉 Dietary Transition for Dogs

The dog is a simple animal! When implementing a change in dog food, to get your pooch used to the new food, you can mix it with their old food for a few days. Make sure to balance the quantities (for example, half and half), so that the ration is no more caloric than before.

At Hector Kitchen, we recommend spreading this change in dog food over a period of 15 days, or even a month for more sensitive animals.

👉 Dietary Transition for Cats

With cats, as is often the case, it's a little more complicated! Not only do you need to take into account the time it takes for their intestinal flora to adapt, but you must also consider the neophobic character of the domestic feline: cats are prone to hate novel things or, at the very least, be much warier of them.

We recommend that you expose your cat to new foods very gradually; start by giving them a small amount each day, and keep following the same method until they get used to it. It takes a little cunning, and a lot of patience!

👉 Quick Tips

To change wet dog food:

  • Add a teaspoon of the new wet food to your pet’s usual ration

  • Once your pet has consumed the new food, you can give them double the amount over the next one or two meals

  • After a few days or weeks at this rate, the transition will be complete!

To change dry dog food:

  • From a container containing 500g of your dog’s usual dry food, remove the amount of dry food needed for the day

  • Distribute this amount over their meals for the day

  • Add the same amount of new dry food to the container

  • This will mix with the old food still present in the container, which means their respective smells will blend and help to facilitate the transition

  • Repeat the operation every day until you only have the new food left

  • Then, the dietary transition is complete!


By the Hector Kitchen medical and scientific team


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