Why You Need to Rotate Your Dog’s Food


At Happy Dog Barkery, we believe in a diet that includes a variety of ingredients including fresh foods, raw foods, dry kibble, home-cooked, dehydrated, freeze-dried or quality canned foods.  Variety is the spice of life and your dog will be happier and healthier because of it. 


No matter the type of food you choose, the diet should be complete and balanced.  We believe there is no one food that supplies all that is necessary for a balanced diet for the entire life of the pet.  The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets the guidelines for animal feed, including dog food.  There are so many different dog foods, from the lowest of the low store brand to the ultra-premium, that are certified to be complete and balanced.  The difference in the ingredients/quality is so diverse it is hard to believe one food “does it all”.

Every food manufacturer has a different mix of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.  No one really knows what the magic formula is for the perfect dog food.  One can reasonably come up with something that keeps dogs alive and even healthy, but who is to say that one dog food does it best?  When a food is “new and improved” or just has a simple ingredient change, does that mean the previous ingredients were bad?  Was the dog missing a nutrient?   Was it harming the dog?  By providing variety in your dog’s diet, he will receive multiple nutrients from different sources which prevents an excess or deficient reaction to the same ingredients day in and day out.  Would you want to eat just dry cereal, whole grain bread, carrots and broccoli every day for your ENTIRE life?  Just as you eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need, so should your dog. 


Has your dog been diagnosed with food sensitivity/intolerance or do you think he might have environmental allergies?  Recurrent ear infections, chewing and biting the paws, skin irritations and sensitive digestion are some symptoms of how both food sensitivities/intolerances and environmental allergies manifest in a dog.  A dog may have a true allergy but it might take three months for his body to react to a new ingredient in his diet.  By rotating foods at least every three months, you can possibly head off an allergic reaction to a new food.  However, you must ensure that the ingredients are truly different.  For instance, switching from a chicken & rice formula to a lamb & rice formula won’t do the trick.  You’ve got to switch to a food without chicken or rice (and different than the rest of the ingredients).  Don’t worry, we can help you with this.


Kibble, be it baked or extruded, is still a long way from the natural form in which it began.  Nutrients are cooked out and then added back in various ways, including spray coating.  A dog’s body, which requires moisture, needs to rehydrate kibble, no matter what the quality.  The more moisture a dog gets from a natural food source, the more efficient the kidneys function with low stress.  Just like humans, the closer the food is to its natural form, the more nutritious it remains.   

The best way to get moisture into the diet is via a fresh raw diet.  Even once a week or using some nuggets as a treat goes a long way.  You can also use one of our fresh stews, a quality canned diet or a rehydrated diet.

People food is BAD! – NOT!  You can toss some chicken in the dog’s bowl, put some ground beef aside or save the chicken broth to make a gravy.  Use your imagination but avoid foods that are bad for dogs, like onions.  Also, use your best judgment and don’t give your dog four servings of mac n cheese, ice cream or food loaded with butter.   When preparing your own dinner, put aside some non-seasoned food and use it as a kibble food topper. 

Remember to feed the moisture rich foods in a specific place and not from the table, which can encourage begging.


Many progressive vets are starting to agree that rotating foods is good practice.  If you see an integrative or holistic vet, they will be sure to discuss food options with you.  Processed dog food has been only been around about 100 years.  Before processed food, a dog was given leftovers, scavenged or hunted for his meals.  Vets didn’t tell their clients to only give the dog leftover bread and chicken scraps.  Hopefully, your vet is open to better nutrition for your dog and will be open to you making a decision based on quality of the formula and ingredients, not based on the slick marketing for subpar food.


This brings us to an important point.  When starting out a food rotation diet, DO IT SLOWLY.  For a dog who has eaten only grocery store brands (especially if the dog has been eating the same poor quality food for years), switching to a premium food might be a huge transition, one which might trouble his digestion.  While some dogs will handle the transition a little better, others might only be able to eat a handful of new kibble for a couple of weeks.  Once a dog is accustomed to switching foods, the process will be much easier. 

To start, mix 75% of the old food and 25% of the new food for about 4 feedings.  If the poop is normal, switch to 50/50 until you use up most of the old food.  Finally, as long as everything is still good, switch to 25/75 until the old food is gone.   You can also add supplements to the diet during transition such as slippery elm, pumpkin, sweet potato or enzymes.

Understand no dog will do well on every food.  It is not one size fits all.  Some dogs will be intolerant to certain brands, formulas and ingredients.  If your dog is not reacting well to a new food, don’t be afraid to try again.  Transitioning may be hard but well worth your efforts in the end.

Worried your dog may become picky?  Your dog will be delighted to change foods and enjoy feeding time even more.


Talk to us and schedule a time for a consultation.  Our advice is free!  Disclaimer:  We are not veterinary professionals.  Our knowledge comes from research, lectures, training and experience.  We provide this information to you in order for you to make a more informed decision on the health and well-being of your dog.  Feel free to discuss this information with your vet.  In the end, you decide what you think is best for your dog as you are your dog’s best advocate.