Variety is the Spice of Life
Rotational feeding and mixed protein diets. Sounds odd doesn’t it? When I think rotational feeding, a knee-jerk, Pavlov’d response is to think that changing a dog’s diet is bad despite the opposite being the case. We’re trained to think keeping our dog on the same kibble day in and day out is the best because it’s a complete and balanced meal everyday that will keep our dogs at peak health. That narrative is pushed by conglomerates that own kibble companies and want to retain customers and raise purchasing rates. When you’re told changing their food all the time will make them sick, it’s easy to be spooked into the same food for years on end.
Feeding your dog a variety of proteins from a young age, has actually been proven to be an incredibly healthy practice. A lot of the time, food allergies and intolerances can be attributed to prolonged and persistent feeding of a single protein. When we start to diversify the meals we feed, adding in wet options, raw options, white and red meats, and more, you can begin to improve your dog’s overall health. A varied diet can reduce your dog’s chances of developing digestive upsets, or sensitivities. A digestive system that is used to a restrictive diet can consider any new foods foreign and possibly harmful. It can lead to bloating, gas and loose stools, even if the new food is incredibly beneficial to your dog’s health.
Even if your dog was on a healthy diet of a single protein with (for example) spinach, broccoli and pumpkin, whilst a very healthy meal at first, over time it would lead to nutritional imbalances. That’s why beyond protein mixing, it also is done with fruits and vegetables. Buying seasonally available foods saves money and these are usually very easy to find. Adding in fruits and vegies to your dog’s diet is easy to do and helps diversify the gut further. With changing proteins and plant matter, you can get a complete diet over time, but no single recipe or mix is perfect. Like a mantra say it with me “Variety is the Spice of Life.”
Not every meal your dog eats, must be complete and balanced.
There. I said it.
It’s a tricky term that a group of people made up. That group (AAFCO) tell kibble companies what the minimum nutrient requirements should be and that would be considered complete and balanced. The trick is that especially with kibble, the process this food goes through to be shelf stable sucks out those nutrients, and that must be injected back into the kibble to meet those standards. A lot of the time, what gets pumped back in is synthetic in nature, which has been shown to not have any benefits for our canines. Yuck. By rotating our dog’s meals with changing proteins, vegetables and fruits, you balance over time without the need of synthetic nutrition.
Just like with our own diets, there is no one way to be healthy. As humans, we don’t eat the same meal every day, and neither should our dogs. We achieve balance over time, and by diverse eating. You won’t find the Rock eating a steak and broccoli every single day for every meal and looking like he does. So we strive for balance over time like every single species on the planet.
Let’s have a look at what different proteins bring to the table and how they differ from each other.
- The leanest of red meats with very low levels of fat. These fats are mostly unsaturated which is good for improving blood cholesterol levels, stabilising heart rhythms and help ease inflammation.
- This protein contain some of the highest levels of zinc and iron compared to others. These two minerals are important for immune and thyroid function, as well as maintaining red blood cells.
- Rich in omega 3 fatty acids which aids proper brain development in puppies, as well as helps improve cognitive dysfunction in senior dogs. Also integral for healthy joints and relieving itchy skin.
- Can increase serotonin (an amino acid) levels, which aids in easing stress and balances mood.
- Rich in phosphorus which helps build strong bone structure and aids in maintaining cell structure and cell energy production.
- Contains a microelement called selenium which aids thyroid and metabolic functions. It’s important for its antioxidant function, and is the building block for an enzyme in the body that destroys peroxides that cause cell damage.
- Lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than beef. And lower in saturated fat (the bad stuff) than chicken.
- A novel protein, which means it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
- Studies have shown that goat meat can help with inflammation and contains CLA (Linoleic Acid) which has been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Packed with long chain fatty acids DHA and EPA, oily fish are known for helping reduce inflammation in the joints, and plays a vital role in puppy development for their nervous system and retinal function.
- Their essential fatty acids are known to relieve itchy and dry skin and coat.
- Fish is full of vitamins B6, B12 and B13 which help deconstruct food and release energy. These vitamins also regulate the nervous system and helps form hemoglobin.
This is just four different proteins, and yet we’ve covered almost the entire overall health of our dogs. Adding in small pieces of new proteins doesn’t have to be difficult. It could mean adding in a fish frame to your dog’s dinner one night, and the next day offering a lamb neck to deconstruct. Variety is the spice of life, and not just in the stomach. Changing flavours, changing how our dogs get these proteins introduces new forms of enrichment that are wonderful and fun.
Once more for the road so I know you got it all:
Variety is the spice of life.