Going Limited
Mariner the Sea Puppy’s dietary odyssey
Mariner the Sea Puppy pointed towards the seaMariner the Sea Puppy by the ocean
There comes a time — often more than one — in the lives of our pets when their food needs to change. Sometimes, a dietary switcheroo is prompted by a new life stage with different nutritional needs. Other times, health conditions — such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, atopic dermatitis or digestive disorders — require a change in food as part of their management. Or sometimes, you simply have personal reasons for wanting to swap your pet’s food, such as ingredient or brand preferences or saving money. Dara Anderson, who lives in the San Fernando Valley area of California, lists several reasons for transitioning her dog Mariner (the Sea Puppy) to a limited ingredient diet: a sensitive digestive system, severe seasonal allergies and a taste for different flavor profiles. “Mariner, my Australian cattle dog, has a sensitive stomach and has always been picky,” Dara explains. “My problem was that he would get bored with a flavor and I’d have to switch foods every month, which created another problem — frequent, soft stools.” During a trip to her local pet store — about the time she was considering another flavor change for Mariner — Dara spied a Taste of the Wild PREY promotion. The limited number of ingredients and canine-specific probiotics caught her attention and she knew she had to try feeding it to Mariner. Experienced at switching foods Dara learned shortly after adopting Mariner that feeding him could be challenging. “Mariner has horrible seasonal allergies along with a sensitive stomach, so he needs to be on one food and that food only,” she explains. Early on, she worked with her veterinarian to find a combination of food and supplemental probiotics that Mariner’s sensitive stomach could tolerate without causing chronically soft stools. Fortunately for Mariner (and Dara), the brand of dog food that worked well for him came in a variety of flavors. But even switching between formulas within the brand would negatively affect Mariner’s stool consistency — until Dara realized she needed to use a very s-l-o-w transition, about a month in length. With that figured out, she was able to transition Mariner between formulas without incident. But he still needed supplemental probiotics with every meal. Mariner’s sensitive tummy also meant his treats had to be restricted to avoid triggering soft stools. However, Dara found a treat she could place in front of Mariner’s nose to wake him up without startling him. Why that routine for waking her 2-year-old cattle dog? As it turns out, Mariner is deaf. “He was born completely deaf, although he now understands sign language,” Dara explains. Born on a ranch in the area, the lack of hearing was considered a disadvantage for a farm dog, so he was put up for adoption. “I had always wanted an Australian cattle dog, so when a friend told me about an Australian cattle dog puppy up for adoption, I had to check him out,” she says. As fate would have it, Mariner chose Dara. He ran directly to her at their first meeting, and they’ve been constant companions since then. Although he’s a cattle dog, Dara reports that the super-active and energetic Mariner dislikes nature — except for the beach — and hates hiking too. “He’s a city dog,” she laughs. “He loves walking around downtown Burbank and L.A. But he most loves the beach where he can run off leash.” Smooth sailing during Mariner’s switch to PREY Because of her earlier experiences with changing Mariner’s dog food, Dara knew she needed to proceed gradually and cautiously. Mariner was eating a salmon-based formula at the time of the switch, so Dara first tried the PREY trout formula. She actually counted out the number of kibbles of his previous dog food and replaced them with the same number of PREY kibbles. She also continued supplementing his food with additional probiotics. “He ate only the PREY kibbles and left his regular food in the bowl,” Dara laughs. She also carefully monitored his stools and, when no significant issues occurred, she continued the transition by gradually adding more PREY and less of Mariner’s other food — and it only took a full week to make the switch. Within the first two weeks of feeding PREY, she saw a difference in his stool consistency so she decided to slowly reduce, then eliminate, the supplemental probiotics. Since that first bag of PREY, Dara has also changed the PREY flavors that she feeds Mariner — and, unlike the previous food, switching between formulas didn’t require a month-long transition. “He loves all the different flavors,” she says, “but the Angus beef formula is definitely his favorite.”
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