Rotational feeding is when you keep feeding your dog the same type of food (raw, freeze-dried raw, kibble, or wet) but you rotate between different proteins like chicken, beef, lamb, and more. There are different ways and different reasons to feed your dog a rotational diet, and this article will explain everything dog parents need to know about rotational feeding, whether it’s right for your dog, and how to get started.
Benefits of Rotational Feeding
Rotating the proteins your dog eats offers several benefits:
- Reduces boredom, which in turn reduces picky eating behavior
- Reduces the risk of food sensitivities/intolerances developing over time
- Varied proteins are closer to what they’d be eating in the wild
- Increases the variety of amino acids your dog consumes
- Improves the diversity of your dog’s gut microbiome to promote digestive health, immune function & reduced inflammation
There are 20 different amino acids found in proteins, and each animal protein has its own unique amino acid profile. Mixing things up by rotating the main protein in your dog’s diet is one way to make sure they’re getting a wider variety of essential amino acids.
Types of Rotational Diets for Dogs
There are a couple different ways to go about rotating your dog’s diet:
- Choose a dog food format (raw, freeze-dried raw, kibble, wet) & rotate the main protein
- Feed the same food every day but rotate meal toppers/mixers
Rotational Feeding vs Transitioning Between Dog Foods
Transitioning between different dog food formats (raw, dry, or wet) requires a slow transition to give your dog’s digestive system time to adjust. In most cases, dog parents can easily rotate between proteins without transitioning. However, for more sensitive pets, a short transition may be advised.
Dog parents can also easily rotate or alternate feeding Stella & Chewy’s frozen raw and freeze dried raw recipes (including meal mixers). In many cases there’s no need to transition from frozen raw to freeze-dried raw or vice-versa because they’re the same product with different levels of moisture.
How to Feed Your Dog a Rotational Diet
It’s a good idea to check with your vet before deciding to change your dog’s feeding plan, especially if they have an existing health condition. But most dogs will do just fine with a rotation of meal proteins or topper types! Here’s how to get started:
Decide What to Rotate
Decide whether you’re going to rotate the protein source or the meal topper. You know your dog best, so trust your instincts! If you’re not sure, inquire with your dog’s veterinarian and try starting with a topper to see how things go. You can use our dog food finder if you’re new to Stella & Chewy’s products.
Make a Rotation Schedule
Many dog parents new to rotational feeding wonder how often they should rotate the protein in their dog’s diet. We recommend rotating proteins on a 2-6 week schedule when feeding raw; however, you may consider these options as well:
A popular rotation schedule is every three months – this means you only have to pick a new protein (or meal mixer) four times a year. You can line up the rotation schedule with the seasons or just start where you are!
Another popular choice is using up your current supply of dog food and then choosing a different protein when it’s time to buy more. This could mean weeks or months depending on how much dog food you buy at one time, and how much your dog eats.
If your dog gets bored quickly you can rotate their diet more frequently. But if your dog isn’t wild about mixing things up, you may want to rotate less frequently. It’s always a good idea to try a little bit of a new protein to see if your dog likes it before stocking up on it.
Watch and Learn
Pay attention to your dog – notice which proteins and meal toppers they’re most excited to eat. Keep an eye out for signs of digestive upset such as:
- Decreased appetite
- Eating grass
- Changes in stool
- Vomiting or gas
If your dog shows signs of indigestion it could be sensitivity to a specific ingredient. This is especially important to look out for if you’re rotating to a protein or topper they’ve never had before. Let your dog’s preferences and comfort be your guide!
Keep Things Fresh
Whether you’re rotating proteins with our raw or freeze-dried raw dog foods, our kibble recipes, or wet dog foods, it’s important to make sure you’re always giving your dog a fresh and flavorful meal!
Here’s how long each type of food stays fresh once it’s been opened:
- Frozen raw dog food: Up to 6 months in the freezer, up to 2 days refrigerated once thawed.
- Freeze-dried raw dog food: 4-6 weeks at room temperature when dry. Up to 2 days refrigerated if rehydrated.
- Raw Coated Kibble + Raw Bits: 4-6 weeks at room temperature
- Raw Coated Kibble: 4-6 weeks at room temperature
- Whole grain kibble: 4-6 weeks at room temperature
- Grain-free kibble: 4-6 weeks at room temperature
- Pate: Up to 2 days refrigerated
- Shredded dog food: Up to 2 days refrigerated
- Stews: Up to 2 days refrigerated
Every Dog Is Unique
Though it has many benefits, feeding your dog a rotational diet isn’t mandatory. If your dog is healthy and happily eats the same food every day, there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if they turn up their nose when you try giving them a different protein. Most of our dog food recipes have complete and balanced nutrition, so you’re giving them the good stuff whether you rotate or stick with their favorite! Keep reading to learn all about choosing the right protein for your dog. Check out our blog to learn more about what to feed your best friend, and create a Pet Profile to get tips like these directly in your inbox.
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