The Importance of Feeding Variety
Probably the best marketing sham pet food companies ever came up with is that it is harmful to switch your dog’s food. “Our food is balanced and complete and has everything your dog needs. Switching foods can make your pet sick and feeding table scraps will make them picky.” The unfortunate truth is that it is a self fulfilling prophecy. Feed your dog the same thing every day and you bet they will get sick if they eat something different. Feed them real food and they will likely start refusing their “balanced” nutrition pellets. This idea has created a loyal following that is uncanny. Unfortunately, it is not benefitting dogs and when one thinks about it logically, the idea of feeding any animal the exact same thing every day seems absurd! Could you imagine going into your doctor’s office and having them shame you for eating something other than your balanced human diet of one single food fortified with vitamins and minerals?
Every food has a slightly different nutrient profile. Even kibble which is designed to be relatively uniform when it comes to vitamins and minerals is going to have varying levels of nutrients and varying levels of bioavailability according to each individual dog. We should be striving to achieve a balance of nutrients for our pets over time through feeding a variety of foods that are all going to have different, varying levels of benefits. We should also be striving to achieve resilience through feeding a variety of foods. If you feed the exact same thing all of the time, the body reacts very poorly to new foods. Over time, many dogs will begin to build a sort of “immunity” to the foods that are eaten every day for an extended period of time in the form of allergies. Your pet’s immune system is based in their digestive system, creating a diverse, resilient system will only benefit the overall health of your dog.
No matter what you feed your pet and what your feeding beliefs are, your dog or cat will benefit from adding variety in their diet. If they are eating the same thing every day, start slow and build up to being able to introduce new foods. If you are a kibble feeder, switch brands every time you buy a new bag. Add in some fresh foods, feed healthy table scraps, try out some canned foods or dehydrated foods. For raw feeders, try to feed at least 4 different protein sources (including organ meats). At least one of your protein sources should be a red meat. Feed canned or dehydrated once in a while, include healthy left overs from your own meals. If you are doing home cooked, rotate your recipes, use different muscle meats as your base, include different types of organs, mix up how you cook the food, (pan fried, boiled, slow cooked etc).
The bottom line is that feeding variety just makes sense. We need to shift our thinking away from the idea that feeding just one food, is in any way beneficial. The benefits of using common sense when feeding our animals is huge! If you are new to thinking about what your dog is eating, take baby steps. Every small step in the right direction is of benefit to your best friend.
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