Variety is the spice of life, right? For your pets, it's crucial!
Imagine if you ate the same food for every meal, every single day. That wouldn't be very exciting, would it? Not to mention, your health would probably suffer due to lack of nutrients.
The same thing goes for our pets. They need variety in their diet just as much as we do.
As pet parents, we tend to develop this crippling fear of upsetting our pets' stomachs, to the point that we're afraid to change anything in their diet. Once we find a food they like, we stick to it for life. Though our intentions are in the right place, we're actually doing our pets more harm than good. In reality, the best thing we can do for our pets is to feed them a rotational diet, meaning we rotate between different foods, specifically protein sources.
Most of us are not biologists, so without getting too geeky, let's take a look at why rotational feeding is so important. Our pets' bodies require nutrients known as amino acids, which are what proteins are made up of. An amino acid that must come from food (meaning the body can't manufacture it) is known as essential. For dogs, there are 10 essential amino acids, and for cats there are 11.
We also know that not one single protein source contains all the essential amino acids. So, in order for your pet to get all the nutrients he needs, he must eat a variety of different meats. Hence, a rotational diet is key to the health of your pet.
Still skeptical about switching up your pet's food? Consider this: we can actually cause our pets to have food allergies. Most pets aren't born with a an allergy to a particular food. It's developed during life, often as a result of eating the same food over and over, day in and day out. The itchy skin, hot spots, yeasty ears--it's their body's way of saying, I need variety! What's the best way to avoid this? A rotational diet.
What's the most common protein allergy in pets? Chicken. What's the most common meat ingredient in pet food? Chicken. See a connection? So do we! Rotate your pet's food, and they'll be less likely to develop those pesky food allergies!
So, now that we know the importance of a rotational diet, how do we implement it? Well, that's the beauty of it--there's no set recipe! As long as you incorporate variety into your pet's diet, (assuming no known allergies) then you're doing it right! But, to help you get started, here a few helpful tips:
Brand shop. Look for brands that support a rotational diet. If there are several different formulas within one brand, then it's going to make it easier for you to feed a rotational diet. Many of the pet food brands we carry at Feeders Supply have been designed with rotational feeding in mind.
Consider a topper. Adding a meal topper to your pet's food is an easy way to incorporate different proteins, while also giving them an exciting flavor boost. Stella & Chewy's Meal Mixers, for example, are the perfect complement to any meal and also provide a boost of raw benefits--just scoop and pour! Or, if your pet likes wet food, look for a canned or frozen raw food that's made with a different meat than their kibble.
Treat them well! Think about all the things your pet eats, not just at mealtime. If you usually keep treats on hand, choose ones that are made of something different from their food. For example, if your pet is currently eating a lamb-based food, choose a treat that's made of chicken, or beef, or turkey, etc.
No bones about it. Recreational chews are another easy way to mix up your dog's protein. Just like with treats, get into the habit of looking for something different than their current food. A beef bone is perfect for when your dog is eating something other than beef for dinner.
Go slow. If your pet has eaten the same food for months or even years, switching their food all at once will likely cause an upset stomach. So, to avoid this, try a transitional approach. Slowly add the new food to the old in increasing increments each day over the course of a week or so. This will give the digestive system time to adjust. Over time, switching foods will become easier, but take your time in the beginning, and don't get discouraged if you do encounter an upset tummy or two--it's likely just the body adjusting. For an easier transition try adding Probiotics or Goat's milk with each food switch.
Have a puppy? Perfect! Now is the time to get started on the right paw to good health! Again, take it slow, but start incorporating different foods into his diet now before he's had a chance to develop any food allergies, and you'll likely avoid them all together.
The more the merrier. If your pet has no food allergies and his stomach takes well to change, then we suggest rotating food as often as you're able. Some pet parents will feed different meals in the morning and evening, some will switch it up every other day, others will simply choose a different formula with each new bag. What works best for your pet may be different from another. But, you'll be happy to know that a rotationally fed dog will get fewer upset tummies. So over time, you should see your pet becoming more tolerant to diet changes, meaning less stress for you and for them!