Transitioning Your Pet to a Holistic Diet: Step-by-step Guide

By Marty Grosjean
Transitioning Your Pet to a Holistic

You’ve heard the term “holistic” but you may not know what it really means or how to provide such a diet to your pet. For those pet owners who are interested in changing their pets’ food to a more natural diet that emphasizes health and nutrition over empty calories, you may not know how to go about safely introducing it.

What Makes Your Pet Food Holistic?

Feeding your pet holistic food means that your pet’s diet is carefully considered to encompass every aspect of your pet’s well-being. The physical and psychological health of your pet both play a role in ensuring your furry friend is healthy and happy. If your pet has a physical ailment like a cold or an injured foot, it can be just as negatively impactful as if your pet was bored, feeling lonely, or depressed.

So how is food related to these attributes? For starters, you want your pet to enjoy the food he or she is eating on a daily basis. After all, you wouldn’t want to eat some flavorless gruel multiple times a day, every day of the week. So why would you make your pet? Pets can be finicky eaters and they may have preferences for the types of foods they prefer.

But even more important is ensuring that your pet’s food is healthy. It supports their well-being and reduces the risk of obesity, illness, or simply contains too many fillers, antibiotics, chemicals, and artificial flavors that can be linked to cancer and other diseases that reduce your pet’s lifespan.

Some key elements to look for in a holistic dog or cat food that makes it healthier:

  • High content of animal protein. An overall protein percentage of 30 or higher is good.
  • Good quality, low-glycemic carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and lentils, as opposed to nutritionally empty starches like white potatoes, white rice, and various types of gluten.
  • The fresher and less processed the better (just like people food). So frozen raw food is a great choice, and dry kibble is the lowest in nutritional quality.

When you know your pet is getting the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help support heart, respiratory, and joint health, you can be sure that your pet is healthy and happy. That’s what a holistic diet is all about.

Does Holistic Food Always Mean Healthy Food?

While the “holistic” label is often associated with foods that contain all-natural ingredients and formulated without the use of preservatives, fillers, by-products, and other artificial components, that doesn’t always mean it’s the healthiest or best food on the market for your pet.

That’s why it’s so important to be sure you read and understand the ingredient label on your pet’s food to ascertain whether or not it’s the right choice for your pet. High calorie foods can contribute to overweight pets and if your “holistic” pet food isn’t made of high-quality, natural ingredients that offer real nutrition, then your pet food is holistic in name only.

Steps to Transitioning Your Pet’s Diet

Pet owners who want to offer their four-legged loved ones a better diet and a better life can start to make those changes right now. But it’s not an overnight transition, changing your pet’s diet from conventional to holistic is a step-by-step transition process that will take some time to ensure that your pet doesn’t experience any stomach or gastric discomfort.

The health and wellness of your pet should be taken into account as you start feeding a holistic diet and, as with any major life decision involving your pet, it’s highly recommended that you consult your pet’s veterinarian first.

That can allow you to speak to an expert when it comes to your pet’s nutritional requirements and your veterinarian can explain how those requirements should be met on a daily basis.

Step 1: Set a Feeding Transition Schedule

If you allow your pet to free-feed throughout the day, you are going to want to end that practice before you change their diet. Otherwise, making the transition can be tough to ensure that your pet’s digestive tract doesn’t consider it a shock to the system.

Pets who are allowed to free-feed may protest when you change that policy and you might feel a bit guilty when they bark or meow, wondering why they don’t have food available round-the-clock, but trust me, they will adapt to the new schedule and benefit from it

But when you do set that schedule, it’s very important that you stick to it. If feeding times fail to stick to a routine schedule, you won’t be able to successfully transition your pet to a holistic diet and you’re going to hear a lot of whining and complaining from your furry best friend who isnt happy with the dietary changes.

Step 2: Slowly Introduce the New Diet

You need to give your pet the holistic stuff in small portions. Don’t fill the bowl with the new food without a little introduction first. That could result in an upset stomach and loose stool. Remember, this is a slow, gradual switch, it’s not meant to replace your pet’s current diet overnight.

Remember, you don't want to give your pet digestive issues and stomach upset can make your pet less likely to want to go along with this process.

Step 3: Combine the Old with the New

An effective way to prevent your pet from experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort from their food is to mix some of the new food with the old food they have already been eating. You can start with a ¼ to 1 ratio and then gradually increase the amount of the new food you add to the old food. Just be sure you’re not overfeeding your pet, the goal is to reduce the amount of the old food in relation to the amount of the new holistic food you are serving during each meal.

Step 4: Switch it Up

As your pet becomes more accustomed to eating a holistic diet and you’ve fully (but gradually) transitioned the diet, think about adding some variety to the food you give them each week. Pets enjoy all types of flavors and it's likely your pet has preferences that will make mealtime even more rewarding for them.

You can find a wide range of brands and flavors of holistic pet foods on the market from different retailers both in store and online. Just remember to read those ingredient labels and be sure that your pet’s food is both nutritious and delicious

Better Food, Healthier Life

Nutrition is a vital part of staying healthy and our pets need high-quality foods to live a long healthy life. Holistic pet food can make a significant difference in the quality of your pet’s life because it offers better nutrition and better ingredients that are fulfilling and won’t leave your pet consuming empty calories and fillers.