Why am I supposed to mix foods when I switch pet foods?
Let me ask you this in exchange: Do you eat the same thing every meal? Do you get diarrhea when you eat different meals? Normally no, right?
Essentially it comes down to health of the intestinal tract. If your pet has a healthy intestinal tract, then there’s no problem switching foods. Just like we eat eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, and chicken with green beans for dinner without having diarrhea, our dogs and cats should be able to eat similar variety. When dogs and cats cannot easily switch foods, that’s where the real problem lies. Some pets are so sensitive that simply switching proteins within the same brand of food can still cause upset intestines. These pets have serious intestinal ill health!
If your pet is one where just one errant crumb causes a week of diarrhea with blood and mucus, then it’s time to think of what to do to build intestinal health. If you are like most pet owners of dogs and cats this sensitive, you’ve already tried probiotics and “prescription” diets for “sensitive stomachs” – which didn’t help. You’ve been to the conventional veterinarian who tested for giardia, parasites, and coccidia. That veterinarian would have tested for pancreatitis, and performed routine blood testing – everything was found to be “normal.” Your pet would have been prescribed metronidazole a time or two and possibly labelled as having “inflammatory bowel syndrome” and given steroids for the rest of its life (and possibly that prescription diet). So, you’ve learned to live with it and closely guard what falls on the floor.
The problem is that what causes intestinal issues in one animal is not the same as for another, making it harder to know how to proceed.
Sometimes the fix is easy, sometimes not so easy. Below is a partial list of things that can help:
Bentonite or montmorillonite clay
Food sensitivity/allergy testing
Total diet makeover
Heavy metal detoxification
Test for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
Feed raw, fermented goat’s milk, maybe even a 30 day goat’s milk fast
The list of possible methods to treat “sensitive” intestines is, obviously, long. While it may seem disheartening that the list is so long, meaning there are so many causes, at least the list is long enough that if you haven’t tried everything on the list, there are still options to try for your pet.
If you need more information, or need help getting to the bottom of the sensitive gut issue, ask your integrative veterinarian. In the meantime, slow changes in the food are advised for those pets with touchy intestines.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi DVM
As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Cathy treated 80% of what walked in the door — not with expensive prescriptions — but with adequate nutrition. Now retired from private practice, her commitment to pets hasn’t waned and she looks forward to impacting many more pet parents through her books, research, speaking and consulting work. Learn more at drcathyvet.com