The Oldest Myth in Pet Food
How many times have you heard ‘You shouldn’t change your dog’s food; it will make them sick!’ That old fashioned idea has its roots in an advertising strategy thought up when dog food manufacturers began competing for business in the mid 1900’s and is poor advice to follow when it comes to your pet’s long term health and quality of life. Like us, most of our pets benefit both nutritionally and psychologically from variety in their food bowls. Let’s talk about rotational feeding!
Rotational feeding or offering your pet a rotational diet simply means regularly changing the primary diet your pet consumes. For those that bark and meow, this is as easy as alternating between two or more proteins/flavors of your favorite kibble and utilizing canned, freeze dried, dehydrated, or raw foods as a topper or alternative meal to give your pet nutritional, textural, and flavor variety.
Pros to Feeding a Rotational Diet:
Improved Nutrition - healthy variation of important nutrients
Reduced food intolerances - less gas, digestive upset, and itching
Convenience - never run into the problem of your pet ONLY wanting to eat one food
Cons to Feeding a Rotational Diet:
Initial transition - some pets experience minor digestive upset at the beginning, especially if they have been on the same food for ages, but a smart transition can make symptoms negligible
Convenience - remembering to shop and serve different recipes instead of the same old formula every time
The primary health advantage to rotational feeding is the reduced likelihood of nutritional deficiencies or excess in your pet. Each protein, for example, will have certain key amino acids and nutrients that another protein may be lacking. Since most of the nutrients from fresh ingredients are lost during the kibble cooking process, a supplement package is added after cooking to bring the key nutrients up to or above minimum standards. The human equivalent would be taking a daily multivitamin to balance out a diet of just meat and starch. While that might work well for some, it just isn’t optimal for long term health.
Secondly, when a dog or cat eats the same food day after day, they can develop a digestive intolerance to specific proteins or ingredients in that food. The mildest of these intolerances include gas, itching, and excess shedding, while more severe intolerance can cause diarrhea, chewing at the paws, hot spots, chronic yeast infections, and leaky gut syndrome. Variety is the key, making rotational feeding the best prevention. Rotational diets have also been shown to gradually reduce "finickiness" in picky eaters, as regularly changing flavors and textures can provide stimulation and excitement.
Rotational Feeding Suggestions
If you are asking yourself 'Just how much of my cupboard space and meal planning time do I have to give up to feed a rotational diet?’ the answer is as little or as much as you like! For dogs, simply rotate between two or more different kibble proteins/flavors, buying a different type each time you restock. Choose a variety of proteins/flavors when shopping for canned food or rotate through favorite freeze-dried or raw frozen options just like you do the kibble - by buying a different flavor each time you shop. Ideally, replace one kibble meal a day with a canned or raw food option, or simply top each kibble meal with a canned or freeze-dried food topper. For cats, the more moist the food is, the better! Rotate through a variety of protein/flavor options of canned or raw food, and include different textures like pâté, shreds, and chunks. If using kibble, rotate between two or more kibbles and make sure to offer moist food at least once a day.
Rotational feeding isn’t just for dogs and cats - your birds and small animal pets will appreciate it too! For our feathered friends, it is important they have more than just seed in their diet. Add fortified pellets like Zupreem to their seed mix, and offer healthy human foods like vegetables, fruit, and cooked grains as daily treats. Offer your furry family members like guinea pigs and hamsters a variety of grass hays and gradually incorporate a small serving of vegetables into their diet daily. This method of feeding allows everyday nutrition to become well-rounded and much more fun for your pet!
How to Get Started
So, why is this myth (changing your pet’s food will make them sick) still hanging on? Because a sudden jump in digestible amounts of protein or fat can cause gas and loose stool. A smart transition period to a rotational diet is the key to preventing these issues.
If your pet is known for their sensitive stomach, pre-load their gut with Kahoots Probiotics or one of our great fermented goat milk options for at least three days before introducing a new food.
Check out the Guarantee Analysis on dry or canned food as you shop - look for similar fat and protein levels within a food type. These are shown in percentages so how much moisture in the food makes a huge difference in the numbers; don’t worry about trying to keep dry and canned amounts similar. For easiest transition, keep all kibble proteins/flavors within a few % of each other, canned protein/flavors within a few % of each other, etc.
Make just one change at a time - Begin by adding just a scoop or two of canned or freeze-dried topper to their current diet. Gradually increase the amount depending on how their digestive tract responds - firm, regular bowel movements are always the goal!
The 25% transition approach - Gradually transition over to the new food by swapping out 25% of the old food each day. This is also a great way to move towards replacing a kibble meal with a raw or canned meal - talk with one of our Kahooligans on your next visit about the best ways to add raw food into your pet’s diet!
Cats are notoriously picky - Cats are known for their resistance to change but are also known to gobble a new food so fast that they regurgitate it! Try mixing new and current kibble half and half. And if your kitty is prone to vomiting new or moist food, spread a tablespoonful out on a saucer for them to lick up. Gradually increase the amount over a few days, but keeping it spread out flat where they have to lick it up will slow them down and prevent regurgitation.
Rotational Feeding is Easy with Kahoots
Kahoots offers a broad variety of healthy choices for your fur babies that are safe, delicious, and easy to rotate!
Kahoots Dry Dog and Cat Food: Kahoots kibbles offer a diversity of healthy ingredients with no fillers and no by-products, with both grain-free and grain-in options for all life stages. Our Kahoots ‘grain free’ and ‘with rice’ kibbles are specially formulated to make transition between the two flavors in each type easy.
Kahoots Dog and Cat Canned Food: There’s plenty to choose from with 7 different proteins/flavors of dog food and a variety of chunky and shredded fish and soft pate poultry options in our cat food.
Kahoots Naturally Raw Frozen and Freeze-Dried Foods for Dogs: Four different proteins/flavors to choose from in the freezer (in story only) or conveniently freeze dried, including a scoopable kibble topper. Try adding a little warm water along with the topper to your dog’s kibble to make a tasty nutritious gravy your pet will love!
And as always, us Kahooligans are eager to share our knowledge and experience to help you find what's best for your pet. Over the years, we've remained hard at work discovering a variety of solutions for our fellow pet parents...but our mission has remained unchanged: to nourish the bond between you and your furry loved ones.