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Should I Rotate My Pet's Food? What Your Vet Won't Tell You, And What You Need To Know.

Updated: Mar 13

rotating pet food to create diversity and prevent allergies and picky eating

Contrary to what many pet professionals will tell you:

"Don't ever switch pet foods, it can upset their stomach." -MYTH.

"There's no need to switch if your pet is doing good on their food." -MYTH.


You SHOULD be rotating food. Frequently.

Whether you have a cat, or a dog. Even exotics and large animals can benefit from rotation.


What is Food Rotation?

Food rotation is simply switching the diet and rotating foods.

Some people like to stay within the same line/ brand of food, while just changing proteins.

While others prefer to switch between brands.

This creates more diversity, especially if your current brand uses different meats in each formula, but the same starch base throughout their pet food line (I.e all have the common denominator of rice, the pet could eventually become sensitive to rice, even though you have been rotating foods).

*Raw feeders do not feed the same thing for more than one meal usually, while kibble feeders will feed the same food daily, often times over a period of many years.


Why Should I Rotate?

I get asked all the time if food should be rotated...

My typical response is:

"Would YOU eat the same meal of chicken and rice, every day of your life??"


This is why many pets become picky eaters.

They are sick of the same old thing!

Also, being exposed to the same substance for long periods can trigger antibody reactions, which can lead to sensitivities, or even full blown allergies.

Common food allergens in pets include chicken, beef, corn, and wheat.

Some may wonder why their dog is suddenly allergic to chicken.

If he has been exposed to it for 2 meals per day for 5 years straight... this could very well be his body saying enough is enough. Not to mention, chicken is a very inflammatory protein in general, because it is high in omeg6's. It is also factory farmed, and chickens often live in very gross and unhealthy conditions.

Some brands of pet food include various lines that have different meat and carbohydrate bases. This makes it so easy and fun to implement a wide variety of meal rotation with your pets!

Not only does rotation provide excitement and a boost of nutrition, it also protects your pet from toxins. There is plenty of evidence that certain elements in pet food becoming toxic to pets over time. Foods that are contaminated with aflatoxin can pose a real danger when ingested continually over a period of time.

The FDA has warned of this.

"Pets are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people, who eat a varied diet, pets generally eat the same food continuously over extended periods of time. If a pet’s food contains aflatoxins, the toxins could accumulate in the pet’s system as they continue to eat the same food."

Rotating food can literally help protect your pet's health from mold toxicity!

*You should always ensure that the brand of food you feed does rigorous testing on their ingredients and only sources from reputable places. I do not recommend feeding brands with a long recall history and use of poor quality ingredients (see which brands I do NOT recommend here).

Food rotation is also beneficial in a recall emergency! When a pet food is suspected to be contaminated or is recalled for any reason, being able to quickly switch your pet's food will give you peace of mind and help protect their health!


Benefits of Meal Rotation

So, what benefits does food/ meal rotation offer?

  • Increased nutrient variety

  • Decreased allergies

  • Reduces picky eating

  • Creates exciting meal times

  • More robust immune system

Exposure to varying meats, veggies, starches, and fruits not only provides a variety on the palate to prevent boredom, it also provides different nutrient profiles to help keep a more stable balance within the body.

For example, different meats have different amino acid profiles. Beef has more glycine than rabbit, and sweet potato has far more vitamin C than pumpkin.

Therefore, creating a diverse diet by varying what your pet eats, can help then maintain proper levels of nutrients, to avoid deficiencies.

Wild animals do not eat the same thing everyday. Their diet is constantly changing with whatever is available. In fact, they aren't even guaranteed to eat all... Enter, fasting!

Another benefit of food rotation includes helping your pet adapt to changing seasons! Oh yes, that's possible!

For example, fish is very cooling to the body, energetically speaking... So feeding a diet of fish is better to do in hot summer months rather than winter (depending on breed). Thick coated dogs like the Husky, or small short haired dogs like the Chihuahua can benefit greatly from seasonal rotation.


How Often Should I Be Rotating My Pet's Food?

Anywhere from daily, to weekly, to monthly. It's totally up to you, and depends what you feed! And again. It depends on the season/ weather as well!

When I was solely feeding kibble, I rotated every month or two (about every other bag of food).

*A bag of dry food should only be open 2-4 weeks. You can learn more about proper kibble storage and feeding guidelines in this post.

Since I feed such a variety of food (dehydrated, raw, gently cooked, kibble, freeze-dried, etc.) my dog will have up to 5 different proteins in any single meal.

I rotate around 12 total protein sources within 5 different brands of food that I love, plus what I add fresh daily like organic berries!

*View my favorite brands of food here!


How Do I Switch My Pet to a New Food?

There are so many ways to switch food.

Some pets may need to get used to transitioning, there are simple ways to manage this.

You can do the slow method over a week or more, 25% new food to 75% old food, then 50/50 and so on, until they are completely switched over to the new food.

Some pets are fine with half and half for a quick 2 day switch, or just going cold turkey (what I do).

Adding things like pumpkin (I love this product), digestive enzymes and/ or probiotics can help with sensitive stomachs while switching foods.

From my experience, the more diverse and adapted your pet's diet, the less likely to they are to have stomach upset... which is the case with my own dog.


What if My Pet Gets an Upset Tummy or Can't Handle Food Rotation?

If your dog or cat has a sensitivity to sudden or even gradual food changes, that's a major sign that their gut likely needs some work! They could have enzyme deficiency, parasites, underlying inflammation, imbalanced gut bacteria, and more!

Checking your pet's gut health and inflammation levels with the proper testing is crucial to be know what's going on in their body so the root of any issues can be properly addressed.

Some mild tummy troubles may be normal, but shouldn't last more than a day and typically resolve on their own or with a little bit of gut support.

If you're struggling with food allergy symptoms, intolerances, picky eating, or tummy troubles; consulting with a qualified professional could provide the support and guidance you need to get your dog or cat on the road to health!


Is there anything else I should know?

When switching food, it's important to keep an eye on the calorie content and adjust accordingly.

Some foods have over a 100 calorie variable or more in nutrient content per cup.

Which means your pet could gaining or losing a drastic amount of weight.. yes, this has happened to me in the past!

Do a quick scan on the bag and calculate out the amount to feed per their individual needs.

Do you rotate your pet's food?

If not, you may consider trying it to provide them with a fun, and nutritious variety!


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