Imagine that you ate the same meal every day for years on end. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. This is a common routine for many of our canine companions. Since most dogs eat whatever we place in front of them with great enthusiasm, this seems perfectly fine. But let’s take a closer look at what this diet consistency means for us and for our dogs.
Bored Bored Bored!
Many dogs eat their usual food with excitement every day. Some dogs, however, and you know all too well if you have one, are very picky. Older dogs also can turn their noses up at the food they have eaten happily for years. You have to encourage them to eat, add some tidbits from your plate to sweeten the deal. Switch brands or flavors. Feed them by hand. Whatever it takes to get some nourishment into them.
Those picky dogs might actually be really, really smart!
Let’s look at why –
Allergies – When eating the same meal over and over again, with time, dogs can develop allergies to common food ingredients like simple chicken or beef. It can result in gastro-intestinal upset, itchy skin, hot spots, licking their feet, and ear infections among other things.
When I first heard this, I thought it was crazy. How can a dog be allergic to chicken?! But the same thing has happened to me with wheat. Over decades of heavy reliance on wheat products in my limited diet, my body has finally said “enough is enough” and I have been “diagnosed” with a gluten allergy. This principle of over exposure applies to dogs fed the same type of dog food for years on end, and allergies to common ingredients are becoming more and more frequent in companion animals.
Nutritional Balance – By adding some variety to a dog’s diet, you create a palette of nutritional colors to paint with. Whether this is changing brands of kibble or adding some “real food” to the diet such as green broccoli, blue and red berries, orange carrots, yellow squash, chicken, beef, fish, or pork, your dog will surely appreciate the change in flavors and textures. Most importantly, his health will improve with the wider range of nutrients in his diet.
Variety Decreases Risk – You researched all the dog foods you thought would be good for your dog. You chose one that you trust and your dog likes it. So why would you upset the balance by changing it?
- Some dog foods are higher in certain nutrients than others. By changing it up systematically, you encourage balance.
- No dog food is perfect. Changing periodically minimizes risk should there be an issue with quality or with nutritional needs being met.
- Less dependence on one brand. If there is a recall of your trusted brand, you want to have options.
- Your pet could develop an allergy to one of the ingredients.
- Serving a variety of foods encourages a healthy appetite in dogs who are finicky, sick or elderly.
- Offering your dog a new food will usually make him noticeably happy and excited! (We’ll do anything to make that tail wag, won’t we?)
Benefits of Changing Up Your Dog’s Diet
When you change your pet’s food on a regular basis, whether that is weekly, monthly or even every six months, you invite balance into your dog’s diet, create enthusiasm in his appetite, and help him live a healthier lifestyle.
Nature has provided us with a wide variety of healthy things to eat. There’s a cornucopia of foods gifted to us by Mother Nature – why not take advantage of it? Your dog is very wise to embrace this difference. You might even be inspired to start making some beneficial tweaks to your own diet habits as well.
The look of joy in your dog’s eyes when you introduce new and interesting foods will be the ultimate reward of your time and effort!
Gradual Change Is Best
Change is best done gradually so as not to disrupt your dog’s dining routine (and GI tract) too abruptly. When switching from one kibble to another, for instance, start with adding in 25% of the new food and gradually increase this over the course of a week.
Check with your vet for guidelines so your pet transitions well and receives a well balanced diet to meet his or her specific nutritional needs.
The Pack Branches Out
Our pack has been happily eating Dr Tim’s Salmon & Pork Grain Free RPM Kibble for a while now. We’ll be making a change soon to try something new. The excitement is high! Stay tuned for details.