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7 Reasons to Change Your Pets Food

7 Reasons to Change Your Pet's Food

Pet parents have long been told that if it ain't broke, don't fix it when it comes to their pets' diets. However, with so many high-quality options now on the market, does this advice still hold true? The answer is not necessarily.

Nutrition needs are highly individual. A quickly growing Great Dane puppy has drastically different requirements than an elderly, couch potato Yorkie. Similarly, an active kitten has different nutritional demands than a middle-aged diabetic cat. So when should you consider changing your pet's food? Here are the top reasons to make a switch.

1. Your pet is overweight or obese

Pets gain weight for a variety of reasons. Endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease can cause weight gain, as can spay or neuter surgeries.

In most cases, however, weight gain happens when pets take in more calories than they burn. If your pet is overweight or obese, talk with your veterinarian about switching to a low-carbohydrate diet with a high-quality protein source.

Most importantly, discuss how much you should be feeding your pet. Your veterinarian can help you determine an ideal caloric intake and recommend an exercise plan.

2. Your pet is entering their senior years

Nutritional needs change significantly with age. Caloric intake, for most pets, should be reduced. Protein and fiber levels need to be examined, and nutritional supplements should be considered.

Supplements targeting joint health, heart health and gut health are some of the most common additives to senior foods.

Talk with your veterinarian about what specific disease processes your pet is facing and how nutrition can help.

3. Your pet has allergies

Your pet has allergies

Only about 10% of pets are truly food allergic, but even those who suffer from environmental allergies can benefit from a diet change.

Diets that are labeled for sensitive skin or prescription diets made from specialized proteins can lower the overall amount of allergens that your pet is exposed to on a daily basis.

Talk with your veterinarian about whether one of these diets could help your pet, and if skin supplements or antihistamines should also be considered.

4. Your pet has a sensitive stomach

Your pet has a sensitive stomach

Poor appetite, chronic diarrhea and gassy tummies can all be a direct result of a food intolerance. As with people, some pets just do not tolerate certain types of food as well as others.

Whether it's the protein or carb source, the fact that the food is of low quality, or that it's simply the wrong life-stage food for your pet, a change can be a simple fix.

Talk with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying causes for gastro-intestinal issues and about whether a low-residue, highly digestible food could be right for your pet.

5. Your pet's coat is less than glowing

Dry, flaky, dull coats can be a sign that the food your pet is eating is lacking in some necessary nutrients. Look for a diet that includes omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and is high in vitamins A, D and E.

Talk with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying causes of skin issues and switch to a high-quality diet—that fur could be shining in no time!

6. Your pet is having urinary issues

Your pet is having urinary issues

Chronic urinary tract infections, urinating in the house or constant licking "back there" can be a sign that it's time to switch to a diet specially formulated for bladder problems.

These foods can include things like cranberry to help lower the urine pH, lower magnesium and phosphorus levels, and supplements called GAGs, which can help inflammation in the bladder lining.

Have your pet examined by your veterinarian to rule out any anatomical causes for urinary problems and discuss which diet is appropriate for your pets' specific needs.

7. Your pet has been ill or undergone surgery

Your pet has been ill or undergone surgery

Pets who have recently been stressed or ill may have increased metabolic needs for recovery. Since they might also have a diminished appetite, search for a highly palatable, nutrient-dense food.

Foods high in antioxidants and vitamins can help boost your pet's immune system and get them back on all four feet sooner.

Talk with your veterinarian about when to use these foods and when (or if) to return to the previous diet.