Rotation Feeding. This is a newer philosophy in the ever-growing world of pet food. A rotational diet is basically about providing your pet with variety to both give them a bit of spice in their lives and help prevent the development of allergies* The act of rotation feeding can be used with dry, wet, frozen, freeze-dried, home made raw, or even mixing them all together.
When you practice rotation feeding you swap out proteins for meals throughout the week. Some people just switch formulations and some (like myself) completely switch brands. The thought process behind this, especially with raw feeders, is that not each food is going to be nutritionally complete. If you rotate proteins, or formulas, or brands, you increase the variety of nutrients your pet is getting throughout the week and it balances out to be a “complete” diet over time.
At home, I rotate bags throughout the week. My pets also get wet foods, freeze dried foods, and things like raw meat, organ and egg to add boosted variety. I do this partially because I have a few picky eaters and partially because I find that sticking to one food for an eternity left me with pets who just weren’t as bouncy as they should be. When I rotate foods, everyone gets a little more pep in their step. They are more enticed to eat at meal times.
I originally looked into rotational feeding due to my dog Moose, who happens to be allergy city. He can not have rice, lamb, turkey, potatoes and many other things without exploding and being bald puppy. He also gets massive ear infections. I found that when I was just feeding him one brand, one formula for a while he would start to get itchy and greasy a few bags in. Signs for him that tell me “he’s having an allergic reaction.” When I started to rotate in other brands or other formula’s, this itchy time never came. I think because his body is exposed to a variety of foods it doesn’t have the time to “get used” too and trigger an immune response. However, I am not a vet and could just be imagining all of this.
Rotation Feeding also allows me to rotate in a few super premium foods that might be otherwise be too expensive for me to feed full time. So, I may feed a mid-range food commonly and then swap in something higher end for a few meals a week. This is much easier on the pocket than a super-premium food daily for 4 cats and a dog.
Do you eat the same thing every day, for every meal? No. Humans (and some wild animals) will actively choose to eat different things at different times to ensure a nutritionally complete diet. We also take vitamins to give ourselves that boost for anything we might be missing.
So, what about the age-old rule of always transitioning foods to prevent stomach upset? This rule was created as a catch all. All pets are different. Some with very sensitive stomachs, or severe allergies, or medical conditions may not benefit from rotation feeding. Many pets, dogs especially, have iron stomachs so switching foods doesn’t bother them. As always, do not force a diet onto your pet. If they don’t do well, go back to what you were doing before.
Here is my rotational feeding set up, as an example. Remember, this is not the only way to do this! You can rotational feed in any way you want. Also, always consult your vet when doing diet changes. I rotate foods by bin and meal. I only have 1 dog, so it takes us a month to go through a 30 lb. bag of food.
I normally have 2 bags of food opened at one time and have various wet foods, freeze dried and dehydrated foods laying around. I also don’t follow this exact order. If I know he’s coming to work with me, I do wet as he sometimes won’t eat the dry because it’s not as exciting as going to work. I also sometimes top with Wet if he isn’t interested in eating.
AM: 1/3 to ½ a RedBarn food roll or a can of wet food topped with PLAQUE OFF and Salmon Oil and PLAQUE OFF
PM: ½ or ¾ a cup of VICTOR NUTRA PRO
PM: FRESH RAW, I shop for deals and do a meal of muscle meat like beef or pork and maybe add chicken livers, hearts and kidney. I will also top with salmon oil and maybe bone broth.
** FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: This a “super premium day”. I like to buy a bag of ORIJEN TUNDRA , ZIGNATURE KANGAROO, or NATURE’S LOGIC VENISON OR RABBIT and have a ~ fancy 4 star meal ~. I tend to do the super premium all weekend. I like to keep a small bag of food laying around just to swap it up on the weekends.
On Saturday’s, he gets to share a small pancake and a little bit of other things from big family breakfast.
This of course does not include treats and chews he gets at various other times of the day and week.
*Rotation Feeding is not proven to prevent the development of allergies.
** As this is not a full raw diet, I do not bother balancing this meal. If you feed only raw, you will need to feed appropriate rations of muscle meat : organ : bone.
Featured Image by Georgie Pauwels (https://www.flickr.com/photos/frosch50/_ via FLICKR (https://www.flickr.com/photos/frosch50/16045073358). Used with CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)