Variety Feeding: A New Way of Feeding Your Dog

Should Dogs Eat The Same Food Every Day?

Well, It wasn't until I had my dog Bailey did this subject become very personal for me.  When he entered my home we bonded and my Mom gave me some pointers.  Don't give him chicken bones, purchase cheap kibble because "they don't know the difference" and treats aren't really necessary. "But, the dollar store has some good ones"  What I realized was, my Mom was cheap.  

I was told by everyone that I should feed him the same thing, day in and day out. So I gave him the same dried kibble, twice a day, every day. The rationale was that if I gave him something else to eat, He would have an upset stomach because he was not used to processing different kinds of food.

So, who introduced me to variety feeding?  My Grandfather did.  He always had dogs, Chihuahuas to be exact.  We would go to my Grandparents house frequently.  My Grandfather cooked scrambled eggs and potatoes every morning.  His dog Chico always received a plate.  I thought to myself, how cool was it that Chico was eating human food.  Food has always been special to me - Food = Love.  My Grandfather leveled the playing field with Chico, and at that moment.  Chico was family.  

Much later, I started to wonder about the conventional wisdom. After all, feral dogs and their wild relatives eat a huge variety of food, basically whatever they can find or catch, all without having severe diarrhea every 20 minutes.

So is it really true that dogs need to stay on the same diet?

Well, I started doing research and I had a willing participant, my dog Bailey.  I was literally scared the first time I even thought about feeding Bailey an off menu diet.  Would I make him sick?  How would I even know?  But, Grandpa did it!  So, I started off slow with  carrots, then rice, then chicken. It wasn't long before bailey and I were sharing meals just like Chico and Grandpa did.

Put yourself in his place: How would you like to have oatmeal for breakfast, and oatmeal for dinner, only to look forward to the next day and …..more oatmeal?

To go back to my question: should dogs stay on the same diet day after day? In my opinion, the answer is No, not even close.

(PS, I love oatmeal, but I don’t think that I could eat it twice a day for the rest of my life).

Rotating Tips

1) If kibble rotating is the way you want to go.  Introduce the new food progressively over a four-day period by mixing it with your pet’s previous food. Begin with a proportion of about 25% new food to 75% previous food. Gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of previous food until you are feeding only the new diet. It is important to keep foods fresh, if rotation is a direction you want to go.  Make sure to keep dog kibble in an airtight container to maintain freshness.  Dog kibble can go stale very quickly.  

2)  If you would like to rotate daily food variety, keep a food log.  This helped ease my mind when I first began introducing Bailey to worldly foods.  It eased my mind knowing that if anything were to arise, I could quickly narrow down the food suspect.  

3)  You should also make sure that any new foods you introduce promote optimum health for your individual pet. If you’re concerned that your companion animal might harbor a food sensitivity, consider testing him first with an allergy test. This saliva-based test is a simple method to determine if he is intolerant of one or more common food ingredients. 

4) I strongly recommend supplementing your pet’s diet with a high-quality, live probiotic to promote overall digestive and immune health. The beneficial bacteria provided in probiotics are especially important when introducing new foods because they provide “reinforcements” to the current gut flora.  Chef Cristi of Bow Wow Chews adds nutritional yeast to her products to promote gut health, especially with variety menu's.  She recommends her Vegetable Tempura 

5) A great way to start is do your research on the foods dogs can't have, such as onions and garlic.  

6) Have fun cooking for your dog.  My Bailey never had an issue with the variety of cuisines I fed him.  He looked forward to it and I know I did as well.  It was our thing, and he and I explored so many fun foods together.  

So, in conclusion.

Yes Yes Yes....add some Flava to your dogs bowl!

 

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