So you’ve been to Fido’s Market and found a great food and now you’re set, right?  Not necessarily.  Diet rotation is an essential part of your dog’s well being, and you should have a variety of great foods for your dog.

A lot of people think we believe in rotating a dog’s food because the dog gets bored.  Now that may be true, but that’s not the core of our reasoning.  A dog needs a variety of foods (protein sources, fruits, vegetables, etc.) to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need.  Just as no one food is right for all dogs, no food can meet all of a dog’s needs.

Think about it this way.  You sit down for dinner.  You have a piece of perfectly grilled chicken, a side of whole grain rice and some green beans.  Quite delicious.  Quite healthy.  But…if that is the only food that you ate every day, day in and day out, think about all of the nutrients you’d be missing by not eating carrots, fish, apples, etc.  Same thing for your dog.

Another great benefit of diet rotation is that you help your dog to avoid developing allergies or sensitivities to certain foods.  Many allergies and sensitivities actually develop over time due to overexposure to something.  It’s no surprise that some of the most common food intolerance in dogs are related to ingredients most commonly found in dog foods – wheat, corn, rice, chicken, beef.

Diet rotation also helps to ensure that you are prepared and ready to make a switch at any time.  If you feed your dog the same food all of the time, and then suddenly there’s a shortage on that food, you’ll be left scrambling to figure out what to do.  Having several foods in your rotational plan alleviates that panic.

Rotating their diet does not necessarily mean switching brands (though you can, and there are benefits to doing so).  It does not mean feeding them something different at every meal, or changing it every day or even every week.  Some people will rotate foods every time they reach the end a bag, others will do it every 3 months or so.  It’s really up to you.  The important thing isn’t frequency of change, it’s changing the actual ingredients.

Our suggestion is to have 3-4 core foods that you use in your rotation.  You simply rotate them as “A, B, C” or if you have one that you (or your dog) favors, you could rotate them as “A, B, A, C.”  We do not recommend that you simply mix them all together and feed them at the same time.  This approach does not offer variety to your dog (avoid boredom).  It also does not help to alleviate the prolonged exposure to a particular ingredient.

We also suggest that you change your dog’s food gradually.  We suggest to start by mixing 25% of the new food in with 75% of the existing food for a couple of days, then switch to a 50/50 mixture for a couple of days, and then to a 75/25 mix for a couple of days.  By the end of a week or so, you’ll be at 100% new food.  Keep in mind that every dog is different and you know your dog best, so you are the best judge of how long you should take for a transition.  If, during the transition, your dog shows signs of stomach upset, stay at the current mixture for a couple of more days before increasing the mixture.  Another easy thing to do to assist with the transition is to add a little pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) or plain yogurt to your dog’s food.

Lastly, there are continual advances to the pet food industry.  Products we once thought were the best have been surpassed due to technological advances in processing or due to learning more about the way a dog’s body works.  Or perhaps a product has (unfortunately) changed their formulations and is no longer the great product it once was.  Diet rotation will help to keep you informed of these changes.

If you’ve already found that “one great food,” that’s fantastic.  Now let’s work on the next great food.  Stop by and pick up some samples to try out.  We’d love to help you ensure your pet is at his (or her) healthiest!