Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rotation Feeding for Better Health

Rotation feeding is one of the newer buzz words in pet nutrition. Gone are the days of auto-pilot feeding where your pet gets the same old kibble night after night after night. And your pets will be all the better for it. Changing your pet's diet periodically is one of the best things you can do for his or her health and well-being for several reasons.

First, wouldn't you get bored eating a bowl of corn flakes every day for the rest of your life? Wouldn't you crave a scrambled egg or a fruit smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal just for fun once in a while? Keep them excited about mealtime by keeping them guessing. Even if your dog or cat has a sensitive stomach, different flavors of the same brand of food are generally similar enough in composition that pets usually can make the switch without a lot of planning and preparation.

Second, changing your pets food regularly can help prevent the development of food allergies by limiting their exposure to potential allergens.

Third, by exposing your pets to a variety of foods, you help strengthen their digestive systems and limit stomach upset.

Finally, by exposing your pet to a wide variety of protein sources and brands of foods, or feeding a brand like ours that rotates ingredients based on what is available seasonally, you provide them with a large and varied cornucopia of nutrients and minerals and vitamins that will keep them healthier over the long run. Just like in human nutrition, the bigger variety of foods we eat, the more building blocks our bodies have to keep us healthy and vibrant.

How to Switch
If you have a new puppy or kitten, you are in luck (in so many ways)! They are usually the easiest to transition because their digestive systems are more flexible. While they are young, give them a big variety of foods--different flavors, different textures, different kinds (canned, freeze dried raw, frozen raw), different brands.

For older dogs, you may need to transition more slowly by adding 10-20% of the new food to their old food and increasing the percentage gradually over a week to 10 days. Add digestive enzymes, probiotics and/or canned pumpkin to help with digestion. After a few months of switching gradually, your pet's digestive system will get tougher and you may be able to eliminate the slow transition time altogether.

Dogs transition easily from dry to canned or raw food, but cats who have been fed dry food for a long time may turn their noses up because, well, cats have attitudes and definite ideas about things. Here are a few tips on how to make it easier to switch cats to canned or raw food...

  • Try a variety of flavors and textures--my cat loved anything seafood, but eating turkey was a chore; loved pate, but had her doubts about gravy.
  • Remove dry food when wet is offered and feed them twice a day.
  • Mix the canned food with the kibble to get them used to the smell and taste.
  • Top the canned food with something irresistibly smelly like bonito flakes or salmon oil.
  • Be patient. They will come around eventually.

See Transitioning Your Cat to Raw Food for more information and tips.

Introduce raw foods slowly to your cat or dog. Raw food is so dense in nutrients that it will be easy for your pet to overdo, especially if you have a lab or any other eating machine.

Remember, you are giving your pet the most nutritionally complete, well rounded diet you can by providing him or her with a wide variety of foods. That means your pet will be with you longer and will live a high quality, happy life.

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