Kibble Rotation

Day after day, week after week, year after year of eating the exact same meal with little variation is not only boring, it is unhealthy for your pet. Did you know variety is one of the true essentials of natural pet nutrition? No manufactured pet food is perfectly complete and balanced in spite of marketing claims. If it were, why do new and improved formulas come out so frequently?

If you choose to feed commercial foods only, here are some good ways to achieve variety.  

  • Periodically switch brands - You can switch once a year, once a season, once a month or even every other bag. The important thing is that you do it!
  • Change varieties within the same brand - Wysong and Natures Variety are two manufacturers of pet foods who have specifically designed their product lines for rotation and strongly encourage it.
  • Mixing brands - If you decide to mix different brands, be aware that should your pet have an adverse reaction, there will be no way to determine which food caused it.
  • Add different textures, such as canned foods - This can be within one brand or a different brand.
  • Add fresh food to your pet's meals several times a week.

 What about stomach upset? Pets handle diet changes differently. While some have sensitive digestive tracts, others seem to have a cast iron stomach, tolerating change very well. When in doubt you should transition your pet gradually on to new foods and monitor stools closely.

ATG uses this Gradual Transition Formula with some of our dogs when it is time to rotate brands. For the first few meals, we mix 25% of the new food to 75% of the current food. If our dogs tolerate that, we increase the amount of new food mixed in to 50% and monitor that change for several days. The next step is 75% new food and finally 100% new food. Depending on your pet's responses, this change should take place over one to three weeks.

For pets with especially sensitive stomachs, Holistic Transitions (digestive enzymes) added to the food during transition can be helpful.   

If the pet has loose stools during transition a dollop of canned pumpkin - not pumpkin pie mix - added to the food may help stool consistency. If it is moderate to severe diarrhea (and the vet cannot find a medical reason for it) ATG suggests pulling the dog off food for 12-24 hours, being sure to provide water at all times. Resume the diet by giving boiled boneless, skinless chicken breasts with boiled white rice for the first few days and gradually add in the new kibble to the chicken and rice mixture following the Gradual Transition Formula until your pet is eating only kibble and tolerating it well.

The Exception to Gradual Switch - Pets that eat the same food with no variation inevitably develop sensitivities to certain ingredients. If we believe our pet is having a food allergy reaction such as excessive itching, paw licking or reddened ears, Against The Grain usually makes the switch to another food cold turkey. Add digestive enzymes to aid digestion and ward off loose stools.

Can pets be stubborn? Some dogs and especially cats may be reluctant to eat a new food. Do not automatically assume your pet is just finicky. This is very important. Have you read the ingredient label? Is the food from a reputable supplier/manufacturer? What is the product's expiration or best by date? Have you smelled the food? Have you actually looked at the food itself? If the food is out of date, looks wrong or smells bad, return it to whichever store you purchased it for a return. Be sure to write down the lot number on the bag, expiration date and keep enough food for 2-3 samples before returning the product to the store. Notify the manufacturer and the FDA of your findings and concerns. Do not rely on the pet store to do that. If the food is defective, you could spare many pets from sickness by reporting it to the proper authorities.

How To Report a Pet Food Complaint to the FDA

If you can find nothing wrong with the food, allow your pet to miss a meal or two. Dogs generally will not go too long with out eating. It is important that your pet likes a food but do not be quick to judge that. Just like people, pets can become comfortable with the familiar. For cats, ATG suggests having a good back up food. It is important they not go on hunger strikes because their systems can actually start to shut down if they go too long without food.

Once you have made pet food rotations several times you should have 3-4 foods in your pet's repertoire that can provide the variety they need for truly balanced diets.

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition is a company that does things differently. We are a small business that is excited about offering pet owners better choices in pet nutrition. We believe that choosing appropriate pet food (be it commercial, raw or home prepared) is the most important factor in any pet's preventative health, convalescence and longevity.  Our name - Against The Grain - reflects our strong passion to provide pet owners with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about pet care even if we go ‘against the grain' of popular thinking.

To contact us:
1024 County Road 109
Montevallo, AL 35115

Phone: 205-665-9026
Fax: 205-665-5683
[email protected]