Friday, November 28, 2014

Food Friday: Rotational Feeding Fun

A lot of dog food companies like to advise their customers to stick with a single food for the life of their pet. Some recommend switching flavors or formulas based on the dog's age, weight, and activity level. Some actually have multiple flavors to rotate through to prevent allergies or just plain boredom. Still, the message is the same, "feed your dog this, and only/mostly this".

I know that people have been studying dog nutrition for longer than almost any other animal, so by now we have a pretty good idea of what our dogs need. On the other hand, I've also fed a variety of pets, from tiny parrots to absurdly large amphibians, animals that haven't been routinely kept in captivity long enough for us to even have a good idea of their expected lifespan. I have discussed, both online and in person, the care and feeding of amphibians, reptiles, rodents, and birds with some amazingly knowledgeable people, and have found that everyone agrees that a varied diet is essential. The attitude is that we don't know what we don't know, so it's best to offer a variety of foods to avoid gaps in the diet of any pet. It's not enough to just feed the packaged, preserved food sold by the pet store, no matter how much the company insists that this is a complete and balanced diet that meets all the nutritional needs of my hamster/gecko/finch/tortoise/rat/parrotlet/newt.

How can I apply that attitude to feeding my dogs? I've fed raw and homemade diets in the past, and Brisbane was exclusively raw fed until he was five or six years old, but I've gotten past my "Kibble is Evil!" phase and now I feed everything. Dry dog food is the most convenient everyday staple, but I also do some raw food, homemade cooked food, canned food of all sorts. I also feed my dogs a variety of treats, supplements, and table foods. It's not that I don't trust the dog food companies to make a quality product, I just feel like hedging my bets. Maybe they put everything my dogs need in there, and maybe they missed something. Maybe my dogs don't have identical nutritional needs, maybe Brisbane processes red meat a little better than fish.

As long as my dogs can tolerate a variety of foods, I think the best way to assure myself that they are getting everything they need while avoiding nutritional gaps and the perils of pet foods of all sorts is to feed them lots of different foods. There aren't a ton of foods that Brisbane can eat, but I try to buy a different brand or flavor each time. I primarily feed Acana, Orijen, and Taste of the Wild, but I'll try anything Brisbane can eat. Ru and Ulysses also get the occasional egg or poultry product. I think it keeps things interesting for everyone, and I feel better knowing that any given problem with quality, taste, freshness, or contamination will only last as long as the bag. My dogs' diet doesn't just rotate, it goes exploring.


  1. I too rotate, I think its kinda fun plus I enjoy exploring different dog foods myself. I haven't done much outside of kibble with the occasional sample of honest kitchen, but I do want to research some raw, though I probably won't be converting to that 100% maybe a chicken neck here or there.

  2. Trying different foods is definitely a lot of fun. I used to do all homemade raw, but now I just toss them a bone occasionally. There are some overly-enthusiastic proponents of raw that claim you can't do raw and kibble, but I haven't had a problem. I also like doing a bit of canned food because I can find weird stuff like rabbit and pheasant.