As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. When it comes to your dog’s diet, variety can also prove a healthier choice for a number of reasons. Whether you change up your dog’s brand of food or simply the recipe or formula on a regular basis, rotating the protein he consumes will offer a number of benefits.
1. Balanced Diet
We hear a lot about the importance of eating a variety of foods from all four food groups. Believe it or not, the same goes for our dogs! Eating a complete, well-rounded diet aids in the maintenance of good health by ensuring optimal nutrient absorption. Different proteins contain different levels of amino acids and fats, so switching up your dog’s food guarantees a diverse consumption of these nutrients, supporting immunity, digestion, skin and coat health, and muscular strength.
2. Allergy Avoidance
Lactose intolerances, gluten sensitivities, peanut allergies – the world is full of people whose bodies disagree with certain foods. Animals, too, can develop allergies with symptoms ranging from itchy skin to vomiting to infections. If your dog eats the same food for a long time, his chances of becoming sensitized to certain ingredients are increased, which can result in an allergic reaction. Rotating your dog’s food can help prevent such intolerances by ensuring the same protein is not in his diet for an extended period of time.
3. Lifestyle Changes
You wouldn’t feed baby formula to a teenager, just as you wouldn’t feed an apple to someone who just had their wisdom teeth removed. Like us, dogs undergo a series of lifestyle changes. Age, overall health, and activity level are all factors that contribute to what type of food a dog should be consuming, and these factors are continually going to change throughout the course of his life. Altering the types of proteins he eats will supply him with a diverse assortment of nutrients based on his current lifestyle needs, which are constantly shifting. Younger dogs, for example, should consume foods higher in calories and lower in fiber to cater to their faster metabolisms. During the winter months, dogs can eat foods with a higher vitamin and mineral content to account for the natural deficiency caused by the colder season.
If you’ve ever traveled overseas, you probably know all too well that when foreign food is consumed in large amounts without giving your system time to transition, bad things can happen. The bacteria in a dog’s stomach known as “gut flora” breaks down food and protects from unfamiliar substances. When your dog consumes the same food for the majority of his life, it’s no wonder this army of bacteria become a little hostile when all of a sudden something entirely new is introduced. Rotating protein will prepare his belly for other types of food so that when he’s ready for a change, he won’t need to wash down his delicious new meal with doggy Pepto-Bismol.
Q & A
How often should I rotate my dog’s protein?
Daily, weekly, package by package. The timeline for switching up your dog’s food depends on several factors, including the age, lifestyle, and overall health of your pet. Personal preference comes into play, but if you’re having trouble figuring out an ideal dietary program, consult your vet to determine what rotation schedule works best for you.
What if my dog won’t eat his new food?
The tag line for fussy eaters? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! If your dog is particular about what type of food he consumes, all the more reason to mix it up! Switching protein sources will prevent boredom and allow you to determine optimal ingredient combinations to ensure tolerance for picky palates and sensitive tummies.
Won’t it upset his stomach if I switch his food?
When switching your dog’s food, be sure to implement the “blending” technique in order to avoid digestive issues. Mix approximately 25% of the new food in with his current food, gradually increasing the amount to 100% over the period of about a week.
Emily Watson is a staff writer for Animal Wellness Magazine and Canadian Dogs Annual. She is a certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor and has been writing — creatively and otherwise — for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and travelling with her wife and fur babies.