When it comes to feeding the family, a parent’s goal is to provide healthy and nutritious family favorites in a pleasing variety for everyone. The same is true for the family pets. Filling the bowl with very palatable (pleasing) and nutritious recipes encourages a long, happy, and healthy life for all pets.
Traditionally, pets are fed the same type of food (kibble or canned) every day with little to no variation. This is thought to play a significant role in encouraging various digestive issues, commonly known as a “sensitive stomach”. Many of those same gut issues are the most common reasons that Guardians take their pets to the veterinarian.
One of the best ways to provide a better bowl for pets and reduce the risk of digestive problems is to create variety in what is fed.
Variety can improve resistance.
A pet eating the same meal every day, over time, creates a digestive tract designed to deal with those ingredients and not much else. Any addition to the diet can disrupt the digestive system and produce GI signs, such as excess gas, bloat, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Getting the digestive tract used to changing the diet regularly encourages many different friendly bacteria to inhabit the digestive tract, capable of properly digesting a variety of different ingredients without upsetting the gut.
A large and varied colony of friendly microorganisms (Microbiome) is a major factor in supporting the immune system.
Variety reduces the risk of a food sensitivity or intolerance.
Pets that eat the same protein every day for long periods have an increased risk of developing an allergy to the protein. Long term use of the same ingredients can also increase the danger of food sensitivity.
Variety improves palatability and assures balance.
Eating the same food day in and day out can quickly become boring. Variety enhances anticipation and excitement at meal-time, which helps to improve the human-animal bond.
Pets can become creatures of habit, and long-term use of the same food or the same type of food can make it difficult later in life if changing the diet becomes a necessity due to old age medical conditions such as kidney and heart disease.
Variety expands options
A pet that eats a variety of foods allows the Guardian a greater selection at the pet store. More convenient food-types when traveling, foods designed for a specific purpose, like weight management, hydration, appetite stimulation, and many other specific needs.
The most effective method of providing consistent variety, optimum nutrition, and gut health is to embrace a Rotational Feeding Program.
There are two simple methods of rotating a pet’s recipe: Both are easy and can be used separately or in combination.
We must remember, dogs and cats have evolved primarily as carnivores, and their diet should be animal protein-focused. Regularly feeding foods with different primary proteins is a simple way to provide variety and bring balance to the gut.
Pet foods today come in many different forms or types. Dry (extruded and baked kibble), wet (canned, pouches and tubes), freeze-dried, dehydrated, lightly cooked, and raw are the most popular.
The Guardian can simply rotate the type of food being fed. An example would be switching from dry to canned food periodically.
A more exciting and varied method is to feed combinations of different food types. Providing a dry food topped with canned food and rotating the protein content regularly.
Others prefer to add portions of freeze-dried and dehydrated (with added water) along with raw foods, or kibble and raw. The combinations of protein and food-types are endless.
How to Begin
When a pet has been eating the same food for months or years, the digestive tract needs a period of slow transition to a new recipe. Otherwise, there is a potential for disaster.
Feeding guides on the package can vary considerably, so be sure to review the guide and feed the appropriate amount. Be sure to provide just enough to maintain a slightly lean body condition and avoid excess weight gain.
Initially, when changing foods, a seven-to-ten-day transition is necessary to avoid an acute disruption to the gut. Begin by adding no more than 25% of the daily diet as the new food and giving that change a few days. Then slowly adding more new food and taking away the food you are eliminating.
Most prefer altering the recipe every several months or when the package is about to run out.
Probiotic Supplementation is a good idea for rotational feeding. Choose a supplement with a large number of Colony Forming Units (CFUs) and multiple species to improve digestive and immune resistance.
Taking advantage of the rotational feeding benefits is an ideal way to provide optimum nutrition and create a better bowl for all pets.