Diet Rotation for Dogs

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The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about diet rotation for dogs.

What is diet rotation?

Unlike a conventional feeding plan where the same food is served at each meal, diet rotation involves varying a dog’s menu on a daily, weekly, or other periodic basis.

Why should I consider diet rotation for my dog?

Since there’s no such thing as a perfect dog food, it’s reasonable to assume every product is deficient or excessive in some way.

Too much of one nutrient… or too little of another. Plus many foods can contain traces of dangerous toxins.

So, built-in flaws tend to be magnified when the same food is fed continuously… day-in and day-out… for a lifetime.

By periodically switching dog foods, the unhealthy consequences of serving the same imperfect products can be minimized.

Isn’t changing dog foods dangerous for the animal?

Although some pets can’t tolerate menu changes, I’ve never been able to find a single scientific study proving diet rotation to be unhealthy or detrimental to a dog.

Does diet rotation mean mixing two or more different dog foods together and serving them at the same meal?

No. The benefits of diet rotation are optimized only when cycling between different products on a periodic basis.

How often should dog foods be switched?

There’s no fixed feeding plan that works better than the others. So, it depends on your own imgenuity.

Some switch foods daily. Others change weekly. And still others prefer to empty one bag of kibble before beginning the next.

Is there a downside to diet rotation?

There are mainly two disadvantages to diet rotation…

  • Avoiding GI upset
  • Maintaining product freshness

Since some dogs have sensitive stomachs, the potential for GI upset can be an issue for certain pets.

And because alternating between two or more kibbles can make each bag take longer to use up, it can be difficult to maintain the freshness of each product.

What’s the best way to transition to a new dog food?

Most experts recommend transitioning to a new food gradually — starting with about 20-25% “new” and slowly increasing that amount to a full 100% over a 7 to 10 day period.

Be patient and don’t rush the transitioning process. Take your time to minimize the chance of GI upset.

Can you provide an example of diet rotation?

For Bailey, we mix one-fourth of a small can of a single-species wet food (chicken, lamb, rabbit, etc.) with his kibble. As each can runs out, we switch to a different canned product from the same brand.

Then, when each bag of kibble is empty, we start with a different kibble (usually, but not always, from the same brand).

Over the long term (twice a year), we gradually switch brands, too.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Thea-
    I have the same issue. I have two 85 pound dogs. Those sample sizes are pretty useless to me also. My dogs pretty much like anything so that is not an issue, but whether or not it agrees with them is something else.
    Like Marie already stated, make sure you buy from a company that is willing to take the food back if it doesn’t agree with your pup. I also feed Victor. Which recipe were you looking at that only comes in 40 pounds?

  • InkedMarie

    Samples are mostly useless unless it’s a teeny dog or you just want to see if a dog would eat it.

    I suggest buying Victor from Chewy dot com. They have a great return policy: you have a year but you don’t have to return the product, they will refund your money.

    Do a gradual switch, a little at a time.

  • Thea tricks

    So I requested some food samples from a few different companies because my dog has a sensitive stomach and i dont want to buy a big bag of something and it be a waste. all the samples are around 7 oz.-1 lb max.

    My question is, since you’re supposed to switch foods gradually, how will I be able to really tell if a food is disaggreeing with my dog’s stomach or not since I’d prob run out of the sample fairly quickly? Some of the brands I’m looking at might have 5 lb bags for sale but some like Victor that I want to try only comes in 40lb.

  • Pitlove

    Hi aimee- Off topic but, I sent you an email. Wasn’t sure how often you check the one you gave me several months ago so I thought I’d let you know!

  • Katie Shellabarger

    It was just a suggestion as an alternative. And how dare you assume we didn’t do our research, we didn’t get a second opinion, and that we didn’t take the dog to the top canine dermatologist in the Chicagoland area? Because we did all that. And he ended up dying several years later – of cancer. And we got a second opinion on that, he had surgery, and went to the top oncologist in the Chicagoland area. But you would’t know that either. Cuz you just assumed I did it wrong.

  • aimee

    Hi Katie,

    Unfortunately none of the tests for food allergies/hypersensitivities or/intolerance is accurate. Dogs will test negative for things they react to and positive for things they don’t. In fact one of the companies that runs the tests has this on their website “Heska, in agreement with the American College of Veterinary Dermatology,
    does not recommend IgE testing for foods. A compliant exclusionary diet
    trial, followed by provocative re-challenge, is recommended for animals
    suspected of suffering from adverse reaction to foods.”

    Hope you dog is doing well but if having continued problems you may want to revisit doing a proper elimination trial as your vet recommended,
    Good Luck!

  • Katie Shellabarger

    I would recommend having your dog tested for food allergies. My vet wanted to put our Goldie on a food allergy diet. We didn’t agree and had him tested for food and environmental allergies. Come to find out he was NOT allergic to any foods. It was more expensive up front to have him tested, but we saved ourselves a lot of time getting straight to his diagnosis. Best of luck.

  • Crazy4cats

    Definitely not a stupid question! Your avatar is so cute, btw. There is not a set answer to your question. It all depends on your dogs. When I first started a rotation with my two lab mix dogs, I’d usually transition for about 10 days. A year later, it usually takes 3 days. It may be helpful to use probiotics and/or digestive enzymes when you first begin. I really like a supplement called Perfect Form made by The Honest Kitchen when switching foods. I’ve also used probiotics made by Vetri Science and human ones sold on Swanson’s website for excellent prices. I probably could do an abrupt change now, but am still nervous about it since my pups had a rough start. I think rotating foods is a healthier and safer way to feed our pets. Good luck!

  • ess5936

    This may sound like a stupid question but I want to start a food rotation with my two golden retrievers (1and 2 yrs old).
    My question is… Once a dog becomes fully introduced to a food – (without any issues), but then rotates off for another – do you have to slowly reintroduce them to it? Or can you just abruptly switch back and forth between two foods that you know have worked for them?
    I would like to do a weekly rotation of dry kibble. One week of one protein and the next week of another one.
    Any help would be appreciated!!

  • http://dograp.com el doctor

    Hi Lindsay, welcome to DFA!

    Apart from the food issue, has your puppy been checked for worms? Worms can cause some of the issues he’s having. Worms are pretty common in puppies and can be difficult to diagnose. I usually ask for a smear and a float, if they don’t find any worms and the issues don’t resolve, I usually ask for a re-test.

    Has he had a complete physical with blood work done? I always like to cover all the bases in case there is something else going on, and some vets will just check for the most obvious things unless you ask them to do more.

    Good Luck with you GSP 😉

  • theBCnut

    Your dog probably has food hypersensitivities. These are not true food allergies, but do still cause an immune response. Vets often lump them in with allergies. My dog has several foods he just can’t eat or he ends up with hot skin, thin fur, a greasy coat, goopy eyes, and ear infections. Different foods cause different reactions. The most common trigger foods are chicken products and grains, as well as a few other common ingredients. You are going to have to start saving ingredient lists to figure out what your dog is reacting to, or the gold standard, do an elimination diet food trial. If you want to try a new food then I suggest you look at Limited Ingredient Diets. Acana Singles may work for you, but there are several LID foods out there. Also, try adding probiotics to his food and I just read an article where they found that giving these dogs powdered colostrum helped their condition.

  • Lindsay N Scott

    Hello, I have a 4 month old German Shorthaired Pointer. I seem to be having trouble with food (I think). He started on Purina Puppy (that’s what the breeder had), which gave him diarrhea and bloat. From there he went to Perfomatrin Puppy which he didn’t like and also gave him diarrhea. He was losing his fur as well as a developing a rash and congestion (gooey eyes and a cough). Took him to the vet, he was put on antibiotics in case it was not food related. His rash and congestion cleared but he was still having digestive issues (diarrhea and gas). So I switched him to Acana Puppy. He liked this better and did well for a bit but was still have liquid poops. I switched again to Acana Lamb and Rice. Again, loves the taste of it, and his poops are formed and healthy looking now. Except, he has lost his nice shiny soft puppy fur and his fur seems to be dull looking and thinning. Also, it seems he is hungry all the time, even though I am feeding him a little more than the recommended amount.

    Not sure if I should try switching again or tough it out. Suggestions??

  • Sucker4Rescues

    It should be easier to switch within the regionals line than to switch to a totally different brand, but it really all depends on what your dog can handle. The formulations are probably very similar, other than the protein source. So you could try doing a rapid transition and see how he/she does. I like to rotate with every bag, which is about every 3 weeks, although I rotate canned toppers with every new can. The main issue with rotating dry food weekly or daily is keeping the food fresh, especially since you have a small dog. The food may go rancid if you can’t finish any open bags within a reasonable time period. But daily, weekly, monthly are all acceptable. It’s what works best for you and your dog.

  • Shayna

    I am feeding my chihuahua mix rescue Acana Regionals Pacifica. Can I switch within the Acana Regionals line to provide variety without gradually changing? Should I rotate weekly, daily, monthly?

  • Beverly Perry

    Some yorkies are very picky eaters. Mine was. I changed his food every single day to help stimulate his appetite. That worked well. There were still some days he wan’t interested, but constant rotation worked the best.

  • Kelly

    If he’s in good health, go ahead and let him have a day or two to be picky. This could be a battle of wills to see who could come out as alpha of the pack. One of my dogs went on a hunger strike when we ran out of wet food. I gave her one of her favorite treats just to make sure she wasn’t refusing food altogether (that merits a call and visit to the vet). When she ate the treat, we were adamant on her eating the food. Within 2 days she gave up and ate.

    If this keeps happening, note the proteins in the food. Your dog maybe trying to tell you about an allergy. They won’t want to eat foods that make them sick. I’m a big fan of Fromm’s (that another person suggested in this thread). Family owned for over 100 years, and they have never had a recall! It’s good quality, and the price is middle of the road on the wallet.

  • Kelly

    I have a dog with allergies too. I he’s doing well with turkey, try to stay in the poultry family first before branching out. Duck and chicken would be the next ones to try out with your THK kindly base. Try beef last as it is in the top 5 common food allergies for dogs. (Chicken is in there too, but if your dog is tolerating turkey well, it’s worth exploring fresh chicken again)

    THK is really good food, and an excellent choice! As long as he’s tolerating proteins, you can switch it out daily with their base. You do want to give it a few weeks with each protein while trying to find out which ones cause the allergies.

  • Lauren Adams

    I have a question. I have a Maltese who has allergies. I don’t know what he is allergic too, but I thought maybe switching his diet from dry to dehydrated/ slow cooked protein would help. I have him on the honest kitchen kindly base mix. For 2 weeks now he has been on turkey. The good thing about it is all his hot spots are going away. How often can I switch proteins? I’m afraid to do it every other day. Can someone help me? I’m trying to prevent any food allergies.

  • Storm’s Mom

    For the longest time, Storm would only eat from a plate not a bowl ..I think because once, not long after I got him, he accidentally overturned his bowl and it scared him (he’s generally a very brave/stoic dog, but he can be a wimp about some very odd things haha).

  • Pitlove

    I’ve been there. My dog would eat off the floor or out of my hand or the measuring cup, but not his bowl. I tried several different types of bowls, including elevated ones.

    I’d highly recommend looking into Fromm or NutriSource. Both are highly palatable and easy to digest.

  • Melanie Spencer

    His weight is good! He’s 13 pounds. I can tell when he isn’t eating because he either doesn’t poop at all, or it’s very little. He does not have dental issues. When I spoke to the vet, they didn’t really give me a solution. He ate something just a few moments ago, but only because I hand feed it to him. The same food was right next to me in his bowl!

  • DogFoodie

    How is his weight and his stool quality?

    Has he been to the vet? Does he have any dental issues?

  • Pitlove

    My dog was the same way, accept he always wants canned food. It took several different dry kibbles to find the one he liked the most. Now hes eating Fromm with no issue.

  • Melanie Spencer

    Hello everyone!

    I really need some help! I am a first time pet owner, and have an 8 month old Shorkie. I’ve had him for 5 months. He is a VERY picky eater! The person I got him from said to get any kind of kibble to feed him, so I did. He ate that for about two weeks, then no longer cared for it. So I switched to something else. Again, he ate it for about 2 weeks, then the same thing happened. I then went and got wet food. He loved that…..or so I thought. Cause he soon didn’t want that anymore. I would also mix it with his kibble, but he would just pick at it. Currently, he barely touches his food. He won’t eat the kibble or the wet food! I don’t give him snacks since he won’t eat his regular food. Please help!

  • Pitlove

    I would say that if he does well once hes fully on Wellness, it would be a great idea to rotate formulas. Also switching up his proteins can be good as well, though a lot of puppy formulas are chicken based. Personally, my dog did not enjoy me changing his food every bag- he became even more picky-, some do however. I think every month or two is an excellent idea. Adding canned as well is a great idea to get more moisture in his diet as well and since hes a small breed it won’t be as expensive as doing canned for a large dog like my boy.

    best of luck with your pup! glad hes doing so well with you.

  • Victoria De Los Santos

    I have a puppy that is 8 weeks old. I’ve had him since he was 5 weeks because he was not doing well with his mom and brother. But he’s a really good puppy that is learning really fast. I had him on Royal Canin Mini Starter Mother & Baby dog Dry Dog Food currently in transition to Wellness grain free puppy formula he really likes it but I want to know should I put him on two different formulas? I was thinking about every other month switching between the Wellness Grain free puppy
    formula and the Wellness Complete Formula. Good or bad idea? (Also please no comments about getting him too early)
    {I Just want to know if its a good idea or if you have any tips)

  • Sucker4Rescues

    I’m not sure exactly what you are asking, but you can do daily rotation. Some people feed a different kibble with every meal if their dogs can handle it. I typically change kibble after each bag. Which is about every 3 weeks. I feed canned as a topper. The canned I rotate after every can, so about every 3 days.
    Some people rotate every 3 or 4 months. A lot depends on what your dog can handle.

  • Minne_gurl125

    Is diet rotation rotation weekday dogfoodadvisor recommends? So long as it doesn’t upset the dogs GI?

  • CrazyCrab12

    some people foods are safe and some are poisonous. Be careful if thats what you do.

  • Shirley

    Ditto… I agree whole heartedly

  • Shirley

    Your vet is full of it… I would change that vet in a heart beat. Where in the world did she get her degree???? Gezzzz

  • el doctor

    Hi Josie

    I’m glad that you are looking into a homemade diet for your dog!

    You didn’t mention your dog’s weight, but a good starting point for a dog that is not high or low energy is about 2.5% of their body weight fed daily split into 2 meals. You would then adjust accordingly based on your pup’s results.

    I cook everything “rare”. I also use a very low heat to preserve as much of the nutrients as possible while eliminating excessive bacteria.

    All my recipes use supplements. I recommend you read this book, it has a wealth of information and some recipes.

    http://www.amazon.com/Beckers-Real-Food-Healthy-Dogs/dp/0982533128/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439445721&sr=1-1&keywords=Dr.+Becker%27s+Real+Food+for+Healthy+Dogs+and+Cats%3A+Simple+Homemade+Food+4th+edition

    Here are 2 recipes for a 100 lb dog. You can make them as they are and then feed the appropriate amount for your dog based on its weight.

    The main supplement can be purchased here

    https://secure.balanceit.com/marketplace2.2/index.php?m=homemade

    Smashed peas and Turkey recipe;
    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/dogfoodadvisor/off_topic_discussion/#comment-2042396522

    Beef and Veggies recipe;
    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/dogfoodadvisor/off_topic_discussion/#comment-2038557729

    Pic of Beef and Veggies
    http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2072/251/original.jpg

    Good Luck 😉

  • Josie Pacheco

    I was wondering what a good homemade dog food diet (recipe and amount daily) is best for a 2yr old Lab, Australian cattle dog mix. Who’s also sensative to gluten?..

  • Joe Adams

    I’ve been feeding my 2 French bulldogs purizon Angus beef for the past 6 months it’s a good quality food with a high protein% however they seem to have gone of it. I guess they’re bored of it so I’ve switched to TOW which they now love.. my question is can I feed them TOW one day then purizion the next day and keep rotating like that?

  • Joe Adams

    I’ve been feeding my 2 French bulldogs purizon Angus beef for the past 6 months it’s a good quality food with a high protein% however they seem to have gone of it. I guess they’re bored of it so I’ve switched to TOW which they now love.. my question is can I feed them TOW one day then purizion the next day and keep rotating like that?

  • el doctor

    Hi 1fedup1,

    I think it’s great that you supplement your dog’s diet with fresh human-grade foods!

    I feed my dogs a homemade diet, and If you would like any help in figuring out how to do the same for your pups, I would be glad to help.

    Dogs do have different requirements than we do, but once you learn how, you will find it’s not that difficult or time consuming at all, and as far as quality goes, nothing beats it 😉

  • jesse

    Yeah I feed him fromm and taste of the wild now

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