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The Importance of Variety in your Pets' Food: Feeding Your Dog a Healthy & Balanced Diet

Posted by Sydni Jackson , Wilder Harrier

Holistic veterinarians and pet nutritionists view pets', diets as the foundation for good health - a healthy, balanced diet is the necessary prerequisite for a healthy and happy pet. In recent years rotational protein diets, which involve regularly varying the protein base of dogs’ food and exposing them to novel proteins, have gained in popularity among pet owners. This approach is a significant departure from previously dominant approaches to feeding that centered around the idea that dogs require complete consistency in their diets - meaning they are fed one protein type, one meal formula, twice a day, everyday for their entire life. This idea has since been pulled into question by many pet health professionals who believe that such a feeding program leads to gaps in nutrition and to the development of allergies.

So, what can adding variation do?

It Keeps Things Interesting!

By varying the types of protein and food you give your dog you keep them from getting bored of the same old food, day after day. This allows you to get a sense of your dog’s likes and dislikes, and is especially good for those dogs who are such picky eaters!

Enhances Overall Nutrition!

No single food source holds everything your pet needs in its diet. Every protein has a different amino acid composition and different food stuffs offer different vitamins, nutrients, fatty acids and enzymes that are unique to its own particular buildup. Therefore, every type of food has its strengths and its weaknesses and the best way to ensure a complete and balanced diet is to offer a variety of meals and food sources that can help to create a dynamic and full diet.

Prevents Intolerances

When dogs are given the same food for an extended period of time, with little variation, it can often happen that they build up intolerances to certain ingredients. This manifests in the form of allergies, sensitivities and sometimes with the pet simply refusing to eat. By adding novel proteins and increasing variation in the diet, the likelihood of developing intolerances decreases significantly.

How Do You Get This Variation?

Most dogs, unless they suffer from serious allergies or gastrointestinal issues, benefit greatly from a varied diet. The first step is to choose a food that is complete and balanced and which offers a variety of proteins through which you can rotate. Some dogs are more sensitive to change than others and require slower transitions to new proteins, others may adjust quickly and easily to change. One fun way to ensure a smooth and easy transition is to use the new food as “treats for a week”, and then begin the process of mixing the new food in with the old. This approach will help ease your dog’s stomach into the change, as well as make them think they’re getting special treats in their regular food!

A second way to add variety to our dog's diet is to incorporate unique and novel foods in the form of treats to their daily activities. Like us, everything we feed our dogs has an impact. Treats are often thought of as a fun little biscuit to hand out for good behaviour, when in reality they can be so much more.

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