Can you recommend the right dog food?

Hi Dr. Barchas, I have two Shar-Peis, and I just recently switched their food from Iams Chunks to Iams Healthy Naturals. They both love Iams...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Nov 22nd 2007


Hi Dr. Barchas,

I have two Shar-Peis, and I just recently switched
their food from Iams Chunks to Iams Healthy
Naturals. They both love Iams chunks. I switched
them because I thought that it would be good for
them. Sinced I switched them they are having
problems going to the bathroom (like they are
constipated). They have been on Iams Healthy
Naturals for a week and a half and I am going to
switch them back to the Chunks. I was wondering
if you know why this happened to them and if you
could recommend a good dog food I can give them?

Jessica
Schaumburg, IL

It is very common for a sudden change in diet to upset an animal’s digestive system. This can happen even if, as in your case, the foods are made by the same manufacturer. And it can happen even if, again as in your case, both diets are high in quality.

When an animal eats one diet consistently, his or her digestive system adapts to that diet. Suddenly changing to another diet can cause a mild shock to the system. Most often, this manifests as diarrhea. However, constipation can occur in some instances.

If you want to change your pet’s diet, I recommend doing it gradually. Start by adding a small amount of the new diet into a meal. Then, over the next several days, gradually decrease the proportion of old diet and increase the proportion of new diet. This helps to avoid the sort of issues your dogs experienced.

As well, be aware that some animals can not tolerate some foods. If your pet responds adversely to a gradual diet change, he or she may not be able to handle the new diet. This is not necessarily a general indictment against the new diet. It simply means that diet may not work for your pet.

Regarding your request for a food recommendation: I recommend feeding a high-quality or premium diet. Iams fits the bill, and so do many others (too many to list, in fact). In my opinion, no particular brand of dog or cat food stands out as definitively superior to all others. However, my patients that eat premium food tend to thrive more than those that eat the low quality brands.

So, I recommend that you find a high quality food that works for your budget and sensibilities. If your dogs enjoy eating it and do well on it, there is no need to change.

Dogster