Your guide to rotating your dog's food
May 12, 2021
Many canines look forward to their daily bowl of kibble, bounding eagerly to the kitchen when they hear the kibble hit the bottom of the bowl. But should dogs eat the same food every day? Even if they seem to enjoy “the usual,” it’s actually good for your dog’s health to switch it up. As long as you feed him the right diet and understand what your dog needs, you can do this without upsetting your dog’s system.
When you see the words “Complete and balanced nutrition” on the bag of kibble, it can be confusing. You may think, if it’s complete and balanced, just like the next bag, feeding him the same thing should be OK, right? Technically, there’s nothing wrong with feeding your dog the same food every day.
However, in the following, we’ll explain why your pet benefits from variety, and how to incorporate variety the right way.
Should dogs eat the same food every day?
If you’re looking to improve your furry friend’s nutritional profile and overall wellness, rotating foods should be a part of that strategy. Even if your dog enjoys the same kibble, change is good.
Here are some of the benefits of rotating your dog’s diet, even if he is already getting a “complete and balanced meal” in each bowlful.
Greater bioavailability of amino acids
Why do dogs crave meat? Meat has critical amino acids that build your dog’s body and make it functional. Amino acids provide the components of muscle and hair follicles while also giving his red blood cells the right stuff to fight off infection.
Even though dog diets are formulated to meet specific guidelines and provide the right balance of macros (carbs, fats and proteins), not all animal proteins are alike.
It’s true that each animal protein is considered a complete source of protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids your dog needs to maintain a healthy diet. But as the chart in this piece from Pet Food Industry shows, the bioavailability of each amino acid varies depending on protein source. By serving your dog a variety of animal proteins, his body will absorb more of the good stuff he needs.
[For a deep dive on the role of amino acids in your dog’s diet, read Protein for canines: It’s what your dog needs and craves]
Greater variety of vitamins and minerals
A complete and balanced dog food also contains grains and vegetables. Look for whole harvest grains, which contain healthy starches and fibers, along with the complete set of B-complex vitamins. Vegetables feature the micronutrients and vitamins your dog’s body needs to be healthy.
Maintains good gut health
When problem ingredients cause inflammation and irritation in the gut, the cascading issues in your dog’s health can lead to more issues.
Here are some of the problems that can arise from poor gut health:
- Inflammation holds back the development of a healthy gut microbiome.
- Without a healthy gut microbiome, it’s harder for your dog’s body to absorb all the nutrients and harder to fight off infection.
- When your dog’s digestive tract is absorbing less of the good stuff, then his food is less bioavailable to him.
- Less bioavailability leads to more messes in the backyard, along with other unwanted issues.
Maintaining a healthy gut takes a multifaceted approach when it comes to diet. Look for:
- Supplements that promote gut health, such as proteinated minerals and yeast extracts.
- Probiotics — microorganisms that cultivate good bacteria.
- Prebiotics — resistant starches that provide food to the good bacteria.
A healthy gut makes your dog’s dinner more bioavailable, which leads to fewer messy stools to clean up.
Do dogs get tired of eating the same food?
A dog’s body craves variety from proteins and nutrients it can get from different animal proteins, grains and vegetables. But if you reach for the same trusty food, every single day for year in and year out, he may eventually get a hankering for new scents and flavors. So in a word, yes, a dog can get bored of eating the same food every day and go on strike.
Your dog’s instinct for variety
If your dog’s gusto for dinner is on the wane, he may want to experience something different. Who knows? His instincts may be telling him to sniff out new ingredients because his body will benefit from the variety.
The key word here is sniff. In a sense, dogs “taste” their dinner with their noses. Compared to a human, they have far fewer taste buds, but their powerful sense of smell more than balances that out.
If you wondered why your canine spends so much time sniffing over his new kibble before he takes his first chomp, it’s not necessarily because he’s picky. It’s an important way for him to experience his food. Food with a rich and meaty aroma will be far more enticing to a dog than, say, a supermarket kibble that’s packed with corn. Look for a premium brand that focuses on high-quality animal protein.
[Learn more about the eating experience from the canine perspective in Does flavor matter to dogs?]
My dog gobbles up his kibble: Now what?
Even if they greet the bowl with amped-up enthusiasm, don’t be deceived. If he’s hungry and the usual kibble is there, he’s going to eat it! For the sake of experiment, try a diet with different animal protein. You may be surprised how quickly they take to it — and how much more exciting dinnertime can be.
Guide to rotating your dog’s food
Now that you know that rotating your dog’s food is a good idea, here are a few ways to go about it.
Should you go slow?
Many feeding guides will tell you to introduce new foods gradually. They suggest starting with a few spoonfuls of the new food into the usual kibble, and gradually increasing the ratio of new to old food. All the while, keep an eye on your pet for any signs or tummy troubles.
That’s sound advice! If you’re switching to NutriSource Element Series — or other foods in the NutriSource line — many pet parents find the transition is much easier on the dog’s system than they expect, thanks to the Good 4 Life supplements that promote gut health.
Stick to the same premium brand
When you find a pet food diet that gets great results for your pet — a soft coat, fewer messes in the yard to clean up, and skin that doesn’t itch — stay within the brand’s line. When it’s time to pick up a new bag of food, break away from the usual chicken formula and try one of the other flavors. If he likes it, finish the bag and keep it in the rotation.
Try novel proteins
When your pup seems to be in a dinnertime rut, look for premium formulas that include novel proteins, like duck, turkey, salmon or even wild boar. The new scents will entice your dog’s appetite, and his body will benefit from the unique profile of amino acids along with the other nutrients.
How often should you switch foods?
There’s no need to offer your pup a new entrée every day. (You’ll just end up with multiple opened bags of kibble, which can be problematic.) Sticking to one flavor at a time is plenty for keeping dinnertime interesting for your pet, but it will also be easier for you to make sure the food is nice and fresh.
Tempt your dog’s palate by upping the animal protein
Filling your dog’s bowl with a meal where the meaty goodness of animal protein plays a starring role is sure to tempt his palate. With the NutriSource Element Series, meat appears in the first five ingredients, offering a high-quality, bioavailable meal that your dog will love from the first sniff to the last bite. In each serving, 83-90% of the protein comes from meat, which is sure to excite your dog around meal time!
Look for NutriSource Element Series at your local, independent pet food retailer.