Rotational Diets: The New Way To Feed Your Dog


This article was written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski. Updated by Dr Belinda Stancombe

Imagine eating your favourite meal day in, day out, for the rest of your life! Even the most delicious food can get boring without a change in flavour or texture. For some dogs, eating the same food daily is a regular mealtime occurrence.

Rotational diets are all about variety and involve feeding your dog several different foods, in a regular pattern, alternating between the different diets. Feeding your dog a rotational diet not only provides variation at meal time, but can also benefit your pets physical health and well-being.

Our vets have outlined the benefits of feeding a rotational diet, how to transition your pet safely and some diet formulas and treats you can try at home. With a wide range of pet food options available, the possible combinations for your dog's rotational diet are only limited by your imagination!


What is a Rotational Diet?

A Rotational Diet involves feeding a variety of different food types, be it different brands, protein sources or forms, instead of staying on just one type of pet food continuously. Owners may keep a variety of pet food diets on hand and change between these in a regular alternating pattern. Rotating your dog's diet daily, every few days or weekly, depending on what works for your family, can provide important health benefits.

What are the Benefits?

1. Reduced Risk of Allergies

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 nutritional 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.

2. Variety for Fussy Eaters

Just like us, pets can get bored with the same flavour and texture for every meal. Offering a rotation of proteins, as well as a rotation of textures, can help keep your pet interested and happy!

3. Promotes Good Digestion

A healthy gastrointestinal tract relies on 'good' bacteria to aid digestion. Varying the ingredients in your pet's diet enables a wide range of good bacteria to establish in their gastrointestinal tract, which can aid good digestion.

4. Ensures a Complete and Balanced Diet

While most pet foods are formulated to meet guidelines, different brands can vary greatly in nutrient content, particularly for components such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids.Varying the diet that your pet is eating ensures that they are receiving a full spectrum of these essential ingredients.

Unfortunately, even the most premium pet food manufacturers can make mistakes. A rotation diet can help protect you in case a manufacturer produces a vitamin deficient or nutritionally imbalanced batch and issues a recall (which is rare, but can happen from time to time). Take the 2017 case of recalled thiamine-deficient 'BFF' brand cat food as an example. Most of the cats who became ill from the recalled food were fed the diet exclusively, with nothing else. Without other balanced diets to draw thiamine from, these cats suffered from thiamine deficiency and consequentially became seriously ill.

If your pet is fed a rotation of a few different diets, they can draw nutrients from multiple sources. This means that in the case of any vitamin deficient batches produced by one manufacturer, your pet will have other diets to fall back on.

Rotation Diet Examples

Below are some examples of rotation diets that are suitable for different ages and to support different conditions. Each diet has been recommended 4 options, with variation in protein sources, texture and brand.

Rotation Diet Examples:

Healthy Puppy

Instinctive Bite Chicken dry food + Ivory Coat Grain Free Salmon and Ocean Fish dry food + Prime 100 Air Dried Lamb + Ziwi Peak Beef canned food

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

Puppy with Sensitive Skin

Taste Of The Wild Smoked Salmon dry food + Zignature Grain Free Trout and Salmon Meal dry food + K9 Natural Hoki and Beef Feast wet food + Ziwi Peak Mackerel and Lamb freeze-dried 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, wheat, corn, and pork.

These diets consist of two dry foods, one wet and one freeze-dried food. All of the diets contain fish, are of very high quality and completely natural.

Healthy Adult Dog

Open Farm Catch of the Season Whitefish dry food + Instinctive Bite Kangaroo dry food + Ivory Coat Chicken and Brown Rice Loaf wet food + Meat Mates Lamb freeze-dried food.

This diet consist of two dry foods, one freeze-dried food, and one wet food. The proteins are different in each formula - providing fish, duck, chicken and lamb to rotate through. Each diet is of a very high premium quality, and the carbohydrate source differs between each food.

Adult Dog with Sensitive Skin or Common Food Allergies

Canidae Salmon and Sweet Potato dry food + Zignature Trout and Salmon dry food + Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach and Skin dry food + K9 Natural Lamb Green Tripe freeze dried topper.

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 a mixture of salmon, trout and lamb tripe. Lamb tripe contains probiotics, which can help with skin and stomach upsets in dogs.

Adult Dogs with Weight Issues

Diamond Care Weight Management dry food + Ivory Coat Fat Reduced Turkey dry food + Hill's Science Diet Perfect Weight dry food + Advance Weight Control Cans.

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

How to Transition Your Dog

Image courtesy @lickimat and features the Lickimat Buddy

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's tummy 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).

Unique Protein Treats

There are now a wide range of unique protein treats available to complement a rotational diet, or just to add some variation to your dog's current diet. Insect based protein treats from brands such as TBH and One with Everything are a unique, delicious and sustainable carbon neutral treat options for your dog.

Other unique protein treat options include Venison, Goat, Duck, Kangaroo and Fish Protein.

Shop All Dog Treats

*A rotational diet may not be suitable for all pets. Some pets require a prescription diet to manage medical conditions and should be fed this diet exclusively or as directed by their veterinarian. For more information on what diet is suitable for your pet please contact The Pet Circle Vet Squad or check with your regular veterinarian.

Further Reading

Top Tips For Travelling With Your Pet

Pet Obesity Facts

How To Make Dental Care Easier

Tick Paralysis

Clicker Training Your Dog

Shop All Dog Products