Before the mid-October holidays, we stripped our dogs food and headed to the store to buy more. The usual brand was not there. Called the manager of other regional sites – nothing. We have been informed.
Two days later, the manager found one bag, we grabbed our dog’s grub the night before we left, which questioned us. Isn’t it unhealthy – or at least asking for trouble – to suddenly change a pet’s diet? Yes and no.
“It depends on the dogs — if your dog is healthy,” said Dr. Cassidy Cordon, a small animal veterinarian in a community practice at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Sans Allergy, “As long as the majority of the main ingredients are the same, they’re usually fine. Some dogs are sensitive and can’t swap out cold turkey, but most dogs can.”
If the store doesn’t have a specific dog food, she suggests calling, from large outlets to small pet stores, to locate stock or at least other brands that contain the same key ingredients. Cordon said cats are a different story because they are generally more picky, but you can try.
Sometimes contacting the manufacturer can determine the stock. While the grocery store may have a few bare shelves, specialty pet stores have a stock.
It’s even more complicated if your dog is on a special diet for allergies, kidney disease, or other conditions.
“I always keep a spare bag because my bag is on a special diet,” Cordon said. “This isn’t always easy with storage issues, but I like to plan ahead in case this happens and have an extra bag at home.”
Find out the calories in pet food if you switch to make sure another blend isn’t too many or too few calories. Cordon offered strategies for keeping pets fed and healthy:
• Keep a spare bag or cans, but keep an eye on the expiration dates. You can fill two gallon bags for freezing if you have the space.
• If you can’t find the same food, look closely, perhaps the same brand in a smaller bag or geared for a smaller or larger breed. “It wouldn’t be the worst thing to do it temporarily,” Cordon said.
• If all else fails, you can temporarily cook food for the pet, she says, using lean proteins such as chicken, vegetables, rice and regular pasta. Keep it soft, and avoid foods high in fat and sodium, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and anything fried. It can get expensive, with little that is required.
“You would never compete with a commercial dog food because it would never have as many vitamins, minerals and enough protein, fats and carbohydrates as commercial pet food,” she said.
Similar tips may work for cats. “It’s all about texture and consistency for them,” Cordon said. “It’s better if they have a spare bag, but you can also cook for them.” Try gentle proteins and work up slowly.
She warned that some dogs could get sick when switching diets.
“Ideally you could change the diets over the course of a week to 10 days, which is why if you’re in that sudden situation where you have to find something else, giving them something close to what they’re used to is safest.”
You can also try asking your vet for a small amount of a prescribed enteral diet which is bland, she says.
Charlie Powell, a spokesperson for the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, recently wrote columns in the papers about pet food supply concerns. Soon after, he received a photo on October 25 showing empty pet food shelves at the Safeway store in Port Angeles. On a recent Monday, Powell said a Moscow resident of the Rosaur had a few empty pet food shelves.
“Most of these foods were canned, not dry foods,” he wrote. “There is an immediate shortage of pet food, at least here at the regional level.”
He said many US agencies say any shortfalls are expected to be short-lived. Factors included supply chain disruptions, delays in imported components and low crop yields. A slowdown occurred at the plant after COVID-19, with a limited number of workers and other changes. Also, more people were infected with epidemic epidemics, which led to a high demand for it.