In the recent years, diet rotation or rotation feeding among dogs has become a widely discussed phenomenon. Some say that it is an essential element and pet owners must take time to plan and periodically rotate their pet’s meals, while others state that it is unnecessary trouble. In this article we will understand what diet rotation and the purpose it serves in your pet’s overall being. This concept applies to both cats and dogs.
What is Diet Rotation?
Diet rotation, is the periodic change of your pet’s daily diet. So, for instance if your dog is having a chicken and vegetable formula and you deliberately switch it to pork and sweet potatoes after 3 months and again switch it to another meat after three months, you are already practicing rotation feeding. There is no particular time constraint after which you should change their diet. Some prefer to switch their pet’s diet every week while others change it every month or 3-4 months.
Diet rotation was primarily created because pets were lacking certain nutrients in their diet and were often getting allergic to the food they have been consuming for years. After a lot of research veterinarians and animal health experts felt the need to introduce diet formulas that is similar to what they would be eating in the wild. A dog’s GI tract is very similar to that of their ancestors and their ancestors were not only accustomed to consuming a generous portion of meat in their daily diet but they consumed a variety of meat everyday! Their consumption depended heavily on what they hunted and there was no way for them to hunt the same meat everyday.
Dogs, who have a good helping of varieties of meat generally have a healthier life. Diet rotation is done to rotate the meat however they can benefit from rotating dog/cat safe plants and vegetables as well. This diet method has proven to be quite effective which is why Dr. Karen Becker states that she rotates her dog’s diet often and recommends it to all pet owners.
What are the Benefits of Diet Rotation
Diet rotation simply allows your dog to absorb nutrition from a variety of meat sources. We tend to stick to a formula because of all its pros and switch it because of its cons. We must understand that though certain pet food formulas agree best with your pet it cannot provide lifelong nutrition to them. Chances are, if you continue feeding them the same formula throughout their life they may adapt an allergy towards the meat. Allergies occur when the body becomes too accustomed to a particular meat, or food item and therefore over absorbs it or fails to break it down. With rotation feeding, new products and formulas are constantly entering your pet’s system which drastically limits the chances of allergies. The body views the new protein source as something foreign. Once it has grown accustomed to it, you have already switched it to something else.
Another major benefit is that diet rotation allows you to switch to a high quality (and expensive) pet food that you cannot afford if it was the only food you gave your pet. Other than a better immune system and overall health benefits, it does add more variety to their life. Though not all dogs are same and some do not enjoy change, many do enjoy variety in their meals.
What must you keep in mind before rotating their diet?
We must understand that all dogs are not the same. So, while some may respond well to diet rotation, others may hate it. Although diet rotation has many pros its con largely relates to the disagreement of food particles in the GI tract and picky eating. Some dogs have a sensitive stomach and may get runny stools or vomiting at the slightest change in food.
Many argue that picky eating stops with rotation feeding. However, this information is false. Once a picky eater, always a picky eater. You may notice that your dog picks on their food and nibbles on it but does not finish it once you change their meals. But, even picky eaters can benefit from rotation feeding. If you follow the process below, you can switch their diet without them knowing that you changed it.
Most pet owners fail to understand that though we are switching their meal once every week, or every few months, we must make the change gradual each time. Start by switching 25% of their current meal with the new diet and slowly increase the percentage of the new formula and decrease the old one. If at any point you see that your dog is going back to their old ways, picking on their food or having runny stools, you should make the change even more gradual. You should use this method every time you switch their meal, even if it is a formula they have had before.
For dogs with a sensitive stomach, reduce the number of times you make the switch and ensure that the switch is slow and steady. If the problem persists, you may have to chuck the new formula completely and find another one. Buy smaller batches of dog food so that you don’t waste your money on them (in case a formula doesn’t work out). Always keep an eye on the expiration date as owners who periodically switch their dog’s diet have a single formula that tends to last longer than if it was solely fed to their pets.
Lastly, if you want to start rotating your pet’s diet, but not sure where to start, consult your vet. They know your pet’s medical history and would gladly help you work out a feeding rotation routine.