People pay a lot of attention to what we feed our pets, but how we feed them is worth some consideration as well. Dogs and cats are meant to eat meat-based diets. Over the last 70 years or so, most families would choose one food for their pets and stick with it for the life of the pet. This is in contrast to the variety that dog and cats ate and thrived on in the wild.
Single food diet probably became the norm because it’s the most simple and convenient for most owners. Plus, by encouraging owners to feed only one food, manufacturers were able to promote brand loyalty and increase sales. Many brands also touted that potential digestive upset that can result from improper diet transitions might be avoided with single food diets. But should pets eat the same thing every day?
The Rotation Concept.
Diets available today vary greatly, both in ingredients, and in the variety of forms they come in. Rotating a pet’s food is based on the simple premise that more variety will provide better overall health for our pets. We don’t eat the same thing every day, why should your pet? Varying the types of food and protein source your pet eats means your dog or cat will have a more diverse and complete nutrient intake that can improve their health and immunity. Rotating can also increase excitement at mealtime, always great for picky eaters easily bored by a lack of variety.
Benefits of rotation include:
Reduced risk of food allergies. Since one type of protein isn’t being overfed, the body does not become as sensitive to allergic reactions.
Improved hydration. Long-term dehydration is the root of many health problems. These can be avoided by rotating in high moisture content options like canned or raw food.
Reduced pickiness. Like their owners, pets generally love it when variety of proteins and food types are introduced.
Better overall heath. Though most foods are ‘complete and balanced’, rotation provides a greater variety of nutrients. Remember, not every food has the same vitamin/mineral profile.
How to Rotate.
There are two main methods for rotating a pet’s food. The first is to pick a particular type of food, such as a grain free kibble, and then rotate the protein sources within that type. For example, switch from chicken, to lamb, to beef, to fish, etc. Because each protein has a unique amino acid composition, rotating protein sources provide a more diverse nutrient profile. And of course, feeding different flavors can help keep the interest of picky eaters.
The second method is to rotate types of food. For instance, moving from kibble, to canned, to raw, to dehydrated/freeze-dried food. This type of rotation enables the pet to get the benefits that each variety brings to the diet. Those benefits include:
Dry Kibble. It’s convenient, less expensive per serving and nutrient dense.
Canned Food. It’s convenient, very palatable, high in meat and moisture content and has few, if any, preservatives.
Freeze-Dried Raw Food. This option is convenient, palatable, has no preservatives, and no nutrients are lost from heat processing. It’s also easy to store and handle while being very portable.
Raw Food. Boasts fresh ingredients, is palatable; has no preservatives and is high in moisture content. Plus, there’s no nutrient loss from heat processing and raw has live enzymes and beneficial bacteria that boost digestion and health.
Until your pet is used to switching, any changes in their diet should be made gradually. Follow appropriate steps to slowly transition your pet to the new food type or protein source – beneficial probiotics are also always recommended.
Err on the Side of Variety.
There is no one food that is best for every pet, like there’s no right or wrong way to do a rotation diet. All pets can benefit from a little variety or a lot. As always, look at the quality and ingredients of your pet’s food. The more biologically appropriate your food is the better. With so many excellent choices available today, it’s easy to add variety and excitement to your pet’s diet by adding a simple topper to their regular dry food or trying more complete rotations of brands, protein sources, and varieties.
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