Rotational Diets: could your pet benefit?

MON 24 DEC 2018

This article is written by one of our in house veterinarians, Dr Carla Paszkowski

Rotational diets are quickly becoming popular overseas, with many pet owners swearing by them. More and more, pet owners are opting to rotate their pet's diet and have been reporting overwhelmingly positive results.

But what exactly is a rotational diet? And what are the benefits?

A rotation diet is all about variety. It involves feeding a number of different foods (be it different brands, different protein sources, or different forms of food) rotated over a number of days. So instead of staying on one pet food diet for a long period of time continuously, pet owners may keep a variety of pet food diets on hand and rotate between them.

Rotational Diets were first introduced in the human nutrition world for people with food allergies or intolerances. Scores of people worldwide have anecdotally reported that by implementing a rotation of different food groups over a period of a few days, their food allergy symptoms significantly reduced. The intention is to allow a person to eat a wide range of food types, but ensure they leave 4 days between eating the same food twice. By providing short exposure to potential allergens, this helps keep up a tolerance without over-exposing, and helps treat current food allergies.

While research into the field of rotational diets in animals is limited, many pet owners who have adopted this human-recommended diet report that it works extremely well for their pets with sensitivities, and reduces their risk of developing further food intolerances. Some top nutritonal experts in the veterinary academia world are also starting to advocate the theory.

Sometimes, when a pet owner discovers their pet is allergic to one component of the food, such as chicken, they will swap over to a diet containing only beef and feed this exclusively. Unfortunately by doing this, the pet can actually develop a sensitivity to this new protein. Instead, it might be more beneficial for that pet to move onto a chicken-free diet that rotates between other protein sources varyingly.


A guide to Rotational Feeding

There are a number of ways to design a rotational diet for your pet. The ideal rotation provides a variety of proteins (eg chicken, beef, fish, etc) as well as food forms (dry, wet, freeze-dried, raw). It is also ideal to swap between different brands of pet foods, as while most pet foods are formulated to meet guidelines, they can vary greatly in nutrient content between brands, particularly for components such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids.

In terms of duration, you can choose how long you would like to feed one type of food before rotating to another. When starting a rotation diet, it's best to do things slowly to avoid tummy upsets. At first, stick to one food for a few days at a time and provide transition meals (half food A / half food B) when rotating. Eventually your pet will get used to it, and will be able to eat a different meal every day, or every couple of days (depending on what works for you).

Below we have set out some examples of rotation diets, with foods that work well together. To keep things easy, we have recommended three to five diets for each type of pet.


Example Rotation Diets

Healthy Puppies

Ivory Coat Grain Free Chicken Puppy dry food + Taste of the Wild Smoked Salmon Puppy dry food + K9 Natural Beef Feast freeze-dried food + Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Lamb and Rice canned food

These four diets consist of two dry foods, one freeze-dried food, and one wet food. The proteins are different in each formula - with chicken, fish, beef, and lamb all provided for. Each food meets the requirements to support growing puppies, and is of a very high quality. The starch / carbohydrate component of each food varies too.

Puppies with Sensitive Skin

Taste of the Wild Puppy Pacific Stream Smoked Salmon dry food + Holistic Select Grain Free Adult and Puppy Health dry food + K9 Natural Lamb Green Tripe wet food

Most pet owners with sensitive skin puppies find an improvement when they change to fish-based diets. This is partly due to the higher levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, but it is also due to the fact that fish-based foods tend not to contain common food allergen ingredients. In dogs, common food allergens include chicken, beef, wheat, corn, and pork. These diets consist of three dry foods and one wet food. Most of the diets are fish-based, with some turkey, and a lamb green tripe wet food for the probiotic advantage. Each food is of a very high quality and is natural, and only one of the diets contains grains (in the form of rice).

Healthy Adult Dogs

Instinctive Bite Grain Free Salmon and Potato dry food + Artemis Grain Free Duck and Garbanzo Bean dry food + Instinctive Bite Original Chicken and Brown Rice dry food + K9 Natural Beef Feast freeze-dried food + Holistic Select Lamb Pate wet food

These five diets consist of three dry foods, one freeze-dried rehydratable food, and one wet food. The proteins are different in each formula - providing fish, duck, chicken, beef, and lamb to rotate through. Each diet is of a very high premium quality, and the carbohydrate source differs between each food. (Note that the Eukanuba diet is available for small and large breeds too).

Adult Dogs with Sensitive Skin or Common Food Allergies

Instinctive Bite Grain Free Salmon and Potato dry food+ Artemis Grain Free Bison, Salmon and Garbanzo Bean dry food + Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Smoked Salmon dry food + K9 Natural Lamb Green Tripe Feast cans

For dogs with sensitive skin or a suspected food allergy, many people find an improvement when they change to fish-based diets. This is partly due to their higher levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, but it is also due to the fact that fish-based foods tend not to contain common food allergen ingredients. In dogs, common food allergens include chicken, beef, wheat, corn, and pork. The four diets selected for this rotation consist of three dry foods and one wet food. The protein sources are mostly fish-based, with the addition of the novel protein bison, and lamb tripe. Lamb tripe contains probiotics, which can help with skin and stomach upsets in dogs.

Adult Dogs with Weight issues

Canidae Platinum dry food + Ivory Coat Fat Reduced Turkey dry food + Hill's Science Diet Perfect Weight dry food + Nutro Natural Choice Lite Lamb and Rice cans

These four diets are all top quality, and designed specifically for weight loss or weight management. This rotational regime consists of three dry foods and one wet food. There is variation in protein source between the different recipes - with two diets containing chicken, one turkey, and the other lamb. Each diet is of a very high premium quality, and carbohydrate sources are varied between each food.

Healthy Kittens

Hills Ideal Balance Kitten dry food + Meals for Meows Kangaroo and Turkey dry food + Taste of the Wild Canyon River Trout Smoked Salmon + Artemis Osopure Tuna and Pumpkin Cans

These four diets consist of three dry diets and one wet food. The proteins are different in each formula - with chicken, kangaroo, turkey, trout, salmon, and tuna all provided for. Each food meets the requirements to support growing kittens, and is of a very high quality, with a variety of carbohydrate sources.

Healthy Adult Cats

Holistic Select Grain Free Rabbit and Chickpeas dry food + Meals for Meows Kangaroo and Turkey + Hill's Ideal Balance Chicken Canned food + Artemis Osopure Tuna and Pumpkin Cans + Feline Natural Chicken and Venison Feast cans.

This rotation consists of two dry diets and three wet diets. Wet diets are particularly beneficial for cats, as the increased water content helps maintain bladder health. The proteins are different in each formula - with rabbit, kangaroo, turkey, chicken, tuna and venison all provided for. Each food meets the requirements to support adult cats, and is of a very high quality.

Adult Cats with Weight Issues

Holistic Select Grain Free Indoor Health Weight Control + Ivory Coat Indoor Chicken and Kangaroo + Royal Canin Neutered Weight Balance + Applaws Ocean Fish Tins

These four diets consist of two dry diets and two wet diets. The proteins are different in each formula - with turkey, chicken, pork, herring, mackeral, and tuna all provided for. All are formulated to be 'light' formulas for weight management, except for the Applaws Ocean Fish Tins - which should be used as a treat if currently trying to achieve weight loss.


As demonstrated, a rotational diet is achievable for most pets. For further information, contact our friendly customer service team.