Rotation of proteins while feeding raw
As a human being, how long would you be able to eat the exact same dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? A week? A month? A year? How about an entire lifetime?
If your pediatrician recommends a food formula for your baby and says that the food is nutritionally complete and balanced, and your baby will have no disease or deficiencies for as long as he/she eats the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of his/her life, would you take his advice?
I am guessing that as a rational human being, you would never agree to feed yourself or your child the same meal for the rest of your life. The entire concept sounds extremely absurd.
What does the pet nutritionist say?
If that’s the case, why do we agree with any pet nutritionist or veterinarian that says, “Feed your puppy the same formula of dog food in the morning and at night, and never ever switch their food”? If you are one of these people, your argument might be “Well, dogs and human beings are very different. Dogs don’t need variety and can survive just fine on the same food their entire life”. While our digestive systems are very different, this could not be farther from the truth.
People don’t say “Mother Nature” for nothing. This is because nature provides all the required forms of nutrition to every single species on this planet. Why are some fruit and vegetables seasonal? Do we know why do some birds migrate? Or why do some fish breed at certain times of the year? This is to provide variety to the predator and maintain a balance in the ecosystem. There is no animal in the wild that survives on one single source for its food. Wolves in the wild would feed on rabbits, squirrels, bison, a variety of birds and fish, depending on what is available at different times of the year.
We domesticated dogs
and suddenly decided that feeding them the same source of food is the best way to nourish them? How did that happen?
The book “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way” by Steve Brown shows an overview of what the diet of wild canids looked like.
“Here are summaries from five researchers who have studied the diets of canids in the wild:
The staple diet of carnivores living in a natural setting includes other animals, carrion, and occasionally fruits and grasses. Scraps of meat, bones, pieces of carcass, rotten greens and fruit, fish guts, discarded seed and grains, animal guts and head. Their preference is freshly killed meat, but when that’s not available, they’ll eat anything that could remotely be considered edible.
Steve Brown's summaries:
Wolves typically utilize most parts of an ungulate (hoofed animal) carcass, which is essential for their nutritional demands.
Organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are high in B vitamins, vitamin A, minerals, and fatty acids that are required for maintenance, growth, and reproduction. Some hair is ingested along with meat, which may aid in faster passage through the intestinal tract.
Wolves prefer fishing to hunting, new (2008) research suggests. When salmon is available, wolves will reduce deer hunting activity and instead focus on fish.”
This tells us that dogs and wolves had access to a wide variety of proteins for consumption. Forcing a dog to exclusively eat one type of protein will lead to health issues and deficiencies.
EVERY DOG IS DIFFERENT
Ask yourself these simple questions – Do you know what your dog’s nutritional requirements are? Are they the same as your neighbor’s dog?
The answers are NO and NO. You probably trust your pet food brand to provide every micro and macro nutrient your dog needs. If it worked for your neighbor’s dog, why would it not work for yours?
The safest assumption to make is that no food source is complete on its own, meaning that every food is deficient or excessive in some way. Including different types of food sources in your dog’s diet is the best way to be as close as possible, to well-rounded nutrition.
Another assumption to make is that each dog has varying requirements. A two-year-old husky has different nutritional requirements from a six-month-old Labrador, and even a two-year-old Labrador. Every dog’s age, breed, sex, environment, genetic conditions etc. are different. While one dog can survive on a certain type of dog food, another dog may turn out to be highly deficient over time with the same food.
For all intents and purposes, the following content applies to pet owners who have chosen to raw feed their dogs.
WHAT IS ROTATION FEEDING AND HOW DOES IT HELP?
All raw feeders must note and understand the concept of “balance over time”. This essentially means that every meal by itself may not be completely balanced, but over the course of a few meals, your dog will receive all the nutrients. This is only possible by varying the food sources.
As the name suggests, rotation feeding involves varying the sources of proteins, vegetables and fruit. If you are preparing your raw meals at home, then varying the food forms (fresh raw, frozen, ground etc.) will allow your dog to experience a different range of flavours and textures.
What are the advantages of rotation feeding?
Healthy digestion and immune systems:
All dog owners have heard that changing a dog’s diet can lead to digestive issues. In some cases, this may be true. The best way to avoid this is to introduce a schedule to the rotation feeding. If your dog is prone to an upset stomach, slower transition to new food sources will help reduce the symptoms.
Rotating proteins will not only ensure that your dog gets all the essential nutrients from different foods, it increases tolerance to dietary changes. This is in combination with a healthy immune system. While there is a debate about whether rotating foods reduces food-related allergies and intolerances to specific ingredients, it is beneficial for overall health as nutrient absorption is different in different dogs, and this method can make the digestive system more robust.
Meal time is more fun
Eating the same meal day in and day out for years, is not something anybody can easily tolerate. Some dogs over time will prefer unenthusiastically eating the same food every day to starvation, other dogs will show signs of reduced appetite. They gradually reduce the amount of food they consume, which can be detrimental. Providing different foods to your dog creates excitement during meal times. Who would not want a happy dog?
Especially for raw feeders, some protein sources might be more expensive than others, depending on where you live and the time of the year. It is easier to make raw feeding more affordable by switching different sources. Getting your dog accustomed to a variety of proteins can help you save some bucks during travel with your pet.
Provides better nutrient balance
You are what you eat. The diet of a fish varies from the diet of a chicken, which makes them nutritionally varied as prey.
As we are well aware, the amino acids profile for each meat source is different. Depending on the species and the food they consumed, the levels of essential amino acids will vary. A Comparison of the Effects of Beef, Chicken and Fish Protein on Satiety and Amino Acid Profiles in Lean Male Subjects ANTHONY M. UHE, GREG R. COLLIER AND KERIN O'DEA
is a study that showed the amino acids profiles for beef, chicken, and fish.
It is clear from the table that the percentage of these amino acids (which are essential for your dog’s survival) are not the same. Feeding an exclusively chicken based diet will cause deficiencies over time that a combination of chicken + fish + beef etc. will take care of.
Tryptophan is one of the amino acids which is significantly lower in beef and fish as compared to chicken. Dogs that are fed exclusively beef or fish may lack tryptophan and research has shown that tryptophan deficiency has shown hyperactivity and aggression in dogs on a high protein diet.
Vitamins and Minerals:
For example, beef liver contains almost 20 times the amount of copper compared to chicken liver. If you feed primarily poultry (chicken, turkey etc.), then copper supplementation is necessary. Oysters and mussels are good supplements of copper. Beef meat contains a higher amount of Vitamin B12 compared to chicken. Rotating between proteins eliminates this problem.
Still continuing the comparison between beef and chicken, a scientific study (Fatty acid composition and cholesterol content of beef and chicken meat in Southern Brazil by Jussara Carnevale de Almeida, Magda Susana Perassolo, Joíza Lins Camargo, Neura Bragagnolo, Jorge Luis Gross) indicated the fatty acid compositions in the two meats.
Linolenic acid (LA) is Omega-6, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) are Omega-3s. Not rotating between proteins throws the Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio out of balance. Too much chicken (without any additional source of Omega 3) equates to high levels of LA (Omega 6), which is pro-inflammatory causing a plethora of skin issues, digestive problems, and a risk of cancer.
WHEN SHOULD YOU START ROTATION FEEDING?
It is often easier to introduce rotation feeding to puppies, but that does not mean that older dogs cannot tolerate or will not benefit from it. If you are aware that your dog has previously shown digestive issues during food changes, then the slow transition is the best way to go – by introducing small quantities of the new food and gradually increasing over time. Adding probiotics or digestive supplements available in pet stores, helps the transition. After about ten days to two weeks, your dog should be able to better tolerate dietary changes. You can switch meat to meat on a schedule. For dogs with issues like Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), cooking the raw food slightly may help soothe an inflamed gut.
Take your time and try to figure out the best possible way to provide the most variety to your dog. It is recommended that the food sources (proteins, vegetables, fruit) be rotated every 2-3 days. It is important to be patient during this process to balance affordability and ensuring that your dog’s nutrition is complete and balanced.