True or false: If you ate your favorite food every single day for all three meals, it would very quickly drop off your favorite-food list. Answer: Probably true, and if you’re a pet parent, that’s likely led you to wondering, “Is my dog totally bored with their food?”
We’re guessing that answer is another “probably true” (since eating the same meal year-round doesn’t sound very appealing whether you have two legs or four). But the bigger question is, does keeping the same food on repeat impact your dog’s health?
According to board certified veterinary nutritionist Joseph Bartges, DVM, PhD, it’s technically okay if your dog eats the same food every day, as long as the food is complete, balanced, and has good bioavailability. But, he still recommends opting for variety in your pup’s diet regardless because “this prevents them from becoming finicky about food.” You heard it here first—your dog gets food boredom, too.
Switching up your dog’s food on the reg is called rotational feeding, and it’s easier to implement than it sounds—especially if you choose a food that’s well-suited for rotational feeding, like ACANA®, which has many different recipes to choose from so you can easily find what suits your canine BFF’s palate.
Plus, with each recipe formulated to have a 60/40 ratio of animal ingredients to fruits and vegetables, it also covers off on Dr. Bartges’ prerequisite of balance. “ACANA is moderately high in protein and utilizes fresh and frozen raw ingredients to provide a rich nutrient profile to your dog,” says Darcia Kostiuk, DVM, senior veterinarian at Champion Petfoods LP.
From wild-caught fish to grass-fed beef (which are available in both grain-free and grains varieties), your dog’s dinner options are about to read like the menu at your favorite restaurant—aka, optimal nutrition and no more food boredom for your number one.
The main reasons to consider rotational feeding
Overall, the biggest draw of rotational feeding for dogs is the exact same reason humans mix it up: A wide range of nutrients, flavors, and ingredients equals a well-balanced diet. Plus, “variety is the spice of life,” as Dr. Bartges puts it.
And Dr. Kostiuk agrees. “Rotational feeding can benefit your pet nutritionally by providing different kinds and levels of amino acids (remember, they are the building blocks of protein), fatty acids, and fiber from different sources in different diets,” she says. “Each [ACANA] formulation is complete and balanced, but different ingredients will bring different nutrient profiles to the diet that your pet can benefit from.”
Oh, and if you have a super picky pup? They’re actually the prime candidate for rotational feeding, according to Dr. Kostiuk. “Picky dogs would be the type of dog that would really thrive on a rotational feeding schedule because [it] would be meeting what they want: variety,” she says.
How to implement it
So how do you do it? Whether you’re a new pet parent or a veteran, rotational feeding for dogs doesn’t have to be complicated. According to both Dr. Kostiuk and Dr. Bartges, the actual schedule comes down to whatever works best for you and your pet, based on your schedule, budget, and your dog’s response.
The goal is true variety—not just switching back and forth between two different types of foods and calling it good, says Dr. Bartges—and Dr. Kostiuk recommends mixing it up every few months.
“Rotational feeding can be as simple as changing your dog’s food to a different recipe every other bag, or changing it meal to meal,” she says. “You can choose how many different foods you want, and then keep a rotation going based on what your dog likes.”
One caveat: Don’t just switch them cold turkey at first. “Ensure that you transition over four to five days between formulation changes, but over time the regular diets in the rotation probably will not need the transition period,” Dr. Kostiuk says.
For example, if you’re switching from ACANA® Freshwater Fish Formula dry dog food to ACANA® Singles Beef and Pumpkin Recipe, start by adding a bit of the Beef Recipe to the bowl of Freshwater Fish, then add more the next day, and so on (here’s a step-by-step). For more variety (and to really impress your dog), add in a few of ACANA’s nutrient-dense treats. And just like that, food boredom was banished for good.