Are you and your dog or cat ready for a “pet food divorce?” I know it sounds rather dramatic! But I’ve seen too many examples of people tolerating lackluster or poor results from the foods they give their pets.

For those of us in the pet care business who are not just salespeople trying to make a buck, but who are advocates for animal health and happiness, it is frustrating to see how many animals are being fed mediocre or poor quality foods, with the expected poor results. These foods are sometimes called “commercial” or “grocery” pet foods.

But it’s not only grocery and mid-priced foods that can fail to make your pet thrive. Even some pet foods sold as “super premium” or “all natural” can be wrong, or become wrong, for your individual pet. A food that’s working well for one pet may not be the right choice for your own companion. “One size fits all” doesn’t work when it comes pet food.

So, if it’s broken, let’s fix it. Check out the list of indications below that the food and treats your dog or cat eats aren’t working for him as they should. Any of these is reason enough to consider kicking your current food to the curb; but if you find that your pooch or kitty is suffering from several of these food-related maladies, it’s definitely time to get a “pet food divorce”.

What to know if you see any of these signs

Your food may be a mediocre quality, high carb food, in the category of most popular grocery brands. High carb foods are just not the way our carnivores are meant to eat. It would be like trying to feed a wolf or lion the way you would a horse or a cow. It ignores the carnivore’s innate biology. Replace low end grain- or carb-heavy kibble with meat-based foods and you’ll see a major improvement in your pet’s overall health, energy, appearance and maybe even his behavior. Putting only good things in your pet’s body helps bring out the best in him.

The pet food you buy may have been changed by the manufacturer. Foods can “change out from under you” because manufacturers may make changes in their products without updating the label for up to a year or longer. Also keep in mind that companies concerned more with their bottom line than your pet’s health may include the same list of ingredients as before, but use lower quality grades of those same ingredients. For example, “chicken meal” is a very popular dry food ingredient. Ideally, it is made by taking mostly wholesome muscle and organ meats and removing most of the fat and moisture. But a lower quality version that contains more bone and fewer nutritious components would still be called “chicken meal”. If the manufacturer switches to a lower grade, you won’t be able to tell by reading, only by feeding and seeing the results.

Your dog or cat could have developed an allergy or sensitivity to one or more ingredients. A dog or cat can eat the same food for years and do well with it, but then start showing signs of sensitivities or allergies to the protein source or other ingredients. If a food that has always seemed to work well starts to cause skin and coat reactions, hot spots, or any allergic responses such as clogged ears, “weepy” eyes or vomiting, your animal may have developed an allergy.

Your animals is changing, not the food. Changes in your dog or cat’s body chemistry, metabolism and digestive efficiency as they enter different life stages can also be the trigger that makes yesterday’s food wrong for tomorrow. Pay attention to the rhythm of your pet’s life stages, with particular attention to the transition between puppy or kitten and adult, and later in life from adult to senior status.

If or when your dog or cat’s food isn’t fulfilling his needs, it’s time to file for a “pet food divorce” and find a healthy new partnership! Start by visiting a trusted and experienced independent pet specialty store in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, search online for “natural and holistic pet food stores”; just make sure the sites you visit are truly independent, and not thinly disguised advertising portals. Read reviews to make sure you are dealing with a respected advisor. When you do switch your dog or cat’s food, do it gradually, and you’ll soon have a healthier, happier companion.

Anthony Bennie is a 25-year pet nutrition industry veteran. He is the Founder and Chief Nutrition Officer of Clear Conscience Pet® ( In September of 2015, he was named a Pet Industry Icon by independent experts and the editorial board of Pet Age. Anthony and his co-founder, Amanda Malone Bennie, are consumer and animal advocates and the producers of “Bennie and the Pets Fun and Fearless Pet Radio”, a podcast and terrestrial radio show about pet care and nutrition.