Tuesday Topics #23 - Food Variety

illustration of three bags of dog food with illustrated Cabana on the front of each bag, says Cabana's Favorite Dog Food, each bag has a different flavor, chicken, lamb and salmon
It's almost time to buy Cabana a new bag of dog food, but I've got a question. Is it good to vary brands or varieties, or is it best to stick to the same food all the time?

At first, I thought switching was a big no-no. I heard it upsets dogs' stomachs, dogs don't need variety, only people do, etc. But now I keep seeing articles about how it's good to change things up, saying that variety provides more rounded nutrition, since no one dog food has everything. Also, they say it's nice for the dog to be able to try different tastes, instead of eating the same thing forever and ever.

Variety sounds fun, but I also don't want to upset Cabana's stomach. Of course, I wouldn't switch back and forth on a daily or weekly basis. I'm thinking I'd switch varieties after maybe every 2-3 bags. And I would transition her to the new food slowly over the course of a week.

Cabana has been eating lamb and rice her whole life. She has had occasional chicken, beef, and duck treats, and none of them seem to trigger allergies or other problems. She isn't picky and eats anything I give her. (With one exception--I gave her a small piece of raw asparagus when I was cooking dinner the other night, and she refused it. It was a first! Maybe she instinctively knows it will make her pee smell funny.)

Raising Reyna  – (April 20, 2010 at 9:24 AM)  

Mimi,

That is so cool. How do you do all these awesome graphics?

Starling, my CC was on lamb and rice and we did switch her over to potato duck. It is expensive, but she loves it and she is soooo worth it. :)

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy and Kira  – (April 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM)  

It actually does make sense, although I've never done it. I'll never be able to do it with Eclipse either to that extent although I may add some salmon kibble in with his current kibble to see if he handles that ok. What makes more sense to me than switching every few bags is to mix it together, so you have two-three different flavors of food, well, if you're doing it for the more complete nutrition anyways. I wouldn't see a problem with it, as long as her stomach can handle it :-D

Katrin  – (April 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM)  

Yes I switch protein sources quite often. Well as much as I can since I have 2 dogs with some food allergies. Usually I rotate by bag and since I buy 2 bags at a time that's how it usually works for my dogs.

Good luck! Oh and I dont' even bother to gradually transition foods over a few days/weeks, I just do it cold turkey and have never had an issue.

Sierra Rose  – (April 20, 2010 at 11:34 AM)  

Interesting!! Love the 'custom' Cabana doggie food bags! We too have heard to stick with the same food...SR is on Flint River Farms Trout and Potato. Seems to like it. Keep us posted on what you decide! :)

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

JackDaddy  – (April 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM)  

I've always heard that you shouldn't switch, but then again, most of the bloggers know a lot more than I do about raising puppies, so I would listen to them!

Erin and GuidePupPompei  – (April 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM)  

Hmm that's the first time I've heard of switching up, though I've wound up doing that with my dachshunds inadvertently...last year they ate Wellness, Nutro, Diamond Brand, and are going to switch too Natural Balance tomorrow..
They have stomachs of steel so food changes don't really affect them much.
So whatever works for Cabana! Though I would do whatevers best for Cabana...some of my dogs could switch cold turkey while other ones will have diarrhea for daysss! They have a reason for those instructions :)

L^2  – (April 20, 2010 at 4:30 PM)  

I've always heard it was best to stick with the same food consistently, but I know people who have their dogs on raw or home-prepared diets that switch up the protein sources all the time, so... *shrugs*
And like Erin, I've had pet dogs in the past that were fine with switching to a new food cold-turkey, but Willow and Stella both definitely needed the gradual transitions when I tried them with a couple of different flavors/brands while searching for the right foods for them.

Natalie  – (April 20, 2010 at 4:35 PM)  

GDTx actually likes to change things up a bit.. they stay with the same brand (natural balance) but switch up the actual flavors/formulas every few months. They do this to stop the dogs from developing sensitive stomachs incase their future owners can't afford or find the type of food we use. It makes sense if you think about it - if you eat the same thing every single day with no variety you are probably more likely to develop sensitivity (we've actually cured Egypt's sensitivity a bit - she can eat other dog treats and things now, when she first came home she threw up everything!)

Anyways, if you transition her slowly you should be able to switch quite nicely. Good luck with it, though you probably won't need it - if she can take different treats and stuff she shouldn't find a slowly switching diet too bad. Her poop might be funny the first couple of days but she'll adjust :)

Madison and Butler  – (April 20, 2010 at 6:09 PM)  

My vet always says it is good to buy like 3 different ones and then just mix them all together!

Kari in WeHo  – (April 20, 2010 at 8:16 PM)  

such a topic. I have spent a lot of time researching this. We loved the rotation diet (a new bad of food each time). Some dogs need a slow transition, some don't. Mesa's tummy couldn't handle it so we stopped but as long as we kept a similar protein she had no issues.
Most documentation you see about nutrition is from the dog food companies and I find that really really hard to trust

The Thundering Herd  – (April 21, 2010 at 5:46 PM)  

We used to believe that switching was bad, but our vet says it is more important to feed quality. And as I met more people that feed raw, I realize they introduce a good bit of variety. So we settled on Eagle Pack foods (good ratings from dog nutritional experts), but we also do variety. We rotate through 3 or 4 different flavors and actually feed a different flavor at each meal. The dogs love the mystery of what will be served and we have absolutely no stomach problems.

Carla's World  – (April 22, 2010 at 5:30 AM)  

We have found that if a store carries more food varieties than fingers on your left hand they don't know what they are selling. Find a speciality dog food store and pick the owners brain. It's not always the food that is causing the problems but the added bonuses many feel they are giving the dogs. Cut out everything except the food you stand behind. Would you feed it to yourself? What are the ingredients? If your dog is sensitive to wheat, don't give a piece of toast or a bit of pizza crust. Being in the Vet industry we try to tell clients that finding the proper food is not as simple as going to the shelf in our office. We have 1 service pup and 2 family dogs, each of which has there own food requirements. Judge what works for your dog with a healthy coat, clear eyes and a good poop. A food supplier should stand behind you until you find the food that works. As for switching up the diet, I'm a firm believer in rotation with foods that work in your own circle of suitable foods. Remember, no cheating is the most important.

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