Should You Rotate Your Dog’s Food?
If there is one thing that German shepherd owners can agree on, it’s that they will disagree about what the best diets for their dogs are.
There is always plenty of debate over dog food. Most are brought on by personal biases, marketing by the pet food industry, social media, the spread of misinformation, brand loyalty, and personal experience.
Plus, there are so many dog food choices readily available. There are dry, wet, freeze-dried, raw, raw coated, cooked, gently cooked, steamed, grain-free, ancient grain, organic, holistic, human grade, and the list goes on.
But most of those terms don’t mean much when talking about the value of their ingredients, quality control, nutrients, amino acids, digestibility, absorption, digestion, sourcing, testing, and formulation.
The bottom line is, not every dog does great on the same food for countless reasons. Some have intolerances, suffer from allergies, or even have undiagnosed health problems that make them sensitive to certain foods.
However, once an owner has a bad experience, they often blame the brand, even if countless dogs do well on it. Thus, the endless debate about dog food and what the best food to keep dogs healthy and happy is.
So, what can dog owners do to ensure that their pet is eating a good diet?
The most important thing to do to ensure that you’re feeding the appropriate food is to read the AFFCO label guidelines, which will tell you what life stage the food was formulated for, if it is appropriate for growth or maintenance, and if it is formulated for large breed dogs.
Dog food rotation
After that, another way to ensure your dog is getting a balanced diet is by rotating dog food.
Advocates of diet rotation argue that by rotating between foods, you can help:
• Prevent nutrient deficiencies
• Prevents nutrient excesses
• Reduce your pet’s exposure to toxins or contaminants that may find their way into your pet’s food bowl
Advocates of diet rotation also claim that it helps:
• Prevent diet boredom
• Avoids feeding the same protein every day to ensure a variety of amino acids
• Promotes a healthy gut
• Is fun for the dog to switch things up
• Satisfying for owners
• Allows dogs to easily adjust to new foods if their favorite food goes off the market or runs out
• Helps build a stronger immune system to prevent allergies and sensitivities
• Promotes a healthier digestive system
The downside to diet rotation
The downside of diet rotation is that food allergies happen after a pet is exposed to a new food. So, once they become sensitized to that new food (usually a protein) the dog becomes reactive to it. Thus, if the dog does develop food allergies, it can be more difficult to find a novel protein that they haven’t been exposed to previously or figure out what is triggering their allergy if they’re eating multiple foods.
What is diet rotation?
Diet rotation simply means that rather than feeding the same food day after day, year after year, you rotate between certain dog foods on a schedule. Just like diet advice for people, it provides the dog with variation and ensures that they get a wide variety of foods and nutrients.
Usually, people who rotate their dog’s food have a few favorite brands that they rotate through as each bag runs out. However, some people rotate food every day but that is more challenging since it takes longer to get through an opened bag and the food can get stale or lose nutrients.
Another way to rotate diet is with a partial rotation, such as using a favorite brand of dry food and rotating wet or fresh foods. When doing this, be sure the wet is complete and balanced for growth and/or maintenance and is not intended for supplemental feeding only.
Not all dogs should rotate foods
Not all dogs are candidates for diet rotation and that’s okay. Dogs with severe allergies, digestive sensitives, dogs that need prescription food, or have other health challenges may not be able to handle changes in their diet.
If that’s the case, don’t worry. Just make sure your dog’s diet is complete and balanced and that the brand you buy from tests their food for any impurities before and after it’s manufactured to help prevent toxins and ensure nutrient formulation.
Sensitive dogs may also be able to enjoy certain wet foods that are similar to their current diet or fresh toppers. Another way to add variety for sensitive dogs is to speak to your vet or consult with a veterinary nutritionist to formulate or advice on a diet.
How to start rotating your pet’s diet
If you’re interested in rotating your pet’s diet and have never done it before, start slow. Just as you would with any diet change, introduce a small amount of the new food to your pet’s current food.
Typically, the advice is to feed 80% of the old food and 20% of the new food over a week to see how your dog tolerates the new food. This is especially true when making abrupt diet changes.
Abrupt diet changes can include higher protein, new protein, going from grain-free to grain, higher fat from lower fat, increasing or lowering, fiber, or a drastic change in ingredients.
If you’ve never rotated your pet’s food before, you might want to buy a food similar to what you’re currently feeding and some brands even make it easier to rotate foods, such as Nutrisource.
When introducing food into your rotation, monitor your pet for diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, itching, or other health problems. If after a week all is well, you can gradually add a bit more of the new food to the old and continue to monitor.
If your pet doesn’t tolerate the new food or adjust to diet changes, simply go back to your old food or try a different new food in your rotation. If your pet is super sensitive, you may want to simply offer just a tiny bit of the new food as a treat for a week to see what happens.
Once your dog is successfully eating both foods without problems, then you can try adding a new food into the rotation, if you choose. Many people stick to two foods. For example, you may want to rotate between either a poultry, beef, or lamb food and then rotate in a fish based food.
If your dog can’t handle a diet rotation, don’t fret. Millions of dogs eat the same food every day and live long healthy lives. But if you want to switch it up and see how your dog does, it can be a way to enrich your dog’s life and add nutritional variety.
The most important thing is that your dog feels good, is healthy, and is happy with their food and their vet is happy with their health. We hope you find this article informative. As always, please feel free to share with your friends.
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