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Ending the Monotony Meal Plan: The Benefits of Pet Food Rotation

At The Happy Beast, we believe that there are significant benefits from pet food rotation. In fact, we think it’s a big pet food myth that animals should eat the same formula of the same brand of food for their whole lives. While this is a great marketing ploy for the pet food companies (who don’t want you to feed anything but their brand of food) it is not in the best interest of your animal’s health and well-being. For one thing, eating the same thing over and over is boring… just imagine eating one kind of cuisine for every meal for the rest of your life! Even more importantly, from a health perspective, a monotonous diet can have negative effects on your animal for the following reasons:  

  1. Although pet foods are formulated to be “balanced and complete,” it’s unlikely that one food will meet all of an animal’s nutrient requirements over a long period of time.
  2. Feeding one food may cause your animal to develop an intolerance or allergy to the ingredients in that food.
  3. The digestive system of an animal that has only had to process one kind of food will be weaker and less tolerant to changes and natural aging.

The good news is that there are many ways to incorporate pet food rotation into your animal’s diet:

  1. Even if you like feeding a specific brand, choose a different recipe or protein source each time you buy a bag, box, or can of food. Most companies offer several formulas. If you usually feed a chicken recipe, try bison or fish.
  2. If you normally feed dry food or kibble, supplement with another, less processed food. Raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, and canned foods can all make great mix-ins.
  3. Add fresh food. “Table scraps” aren’t necessarily bad as long as you’re not feeding them during a meal at the table! Just limit what “people food” you share with your animals to healthy foods like lean meats, salmon skins, yogurt, and cooked vegetables. Although small fish bones are fine, you should not typically feed larger “table scrap” bones because they have been cooked. In comparison to raw bones, cooked bones can more easily splinter and cause a choking risk. 

If your animal has a very sensitive digestive system or has been eating the same food for a very long time:

  1. Add in new foods very slowly.
  2. Supplement the diet with a prebiotic, probiotic, or digestive enzyme. (We like Optagest or raw goat milk.)

Chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef are often used in pet foods, but new protein sources are making their way into the market. “Novel proteins” is an industry term for meats not commonly found in pet foods. We commonly recommend novel protein diets for animals with food sensitivities or allergies, but healthy animals can benefit from these meats as well. Try including goat, rabbit, venison, alligator, or kangaroo in your animal’s next pet food rotation!

 

If variety isn’t the spice of life, is it catnip?

Strategies & Tips for Overweight Dogs

Losing weight can be challenging for overweight dogs, but the health benefits are well worth it. At a healthy weight, your dog will be more resistant to disease, feel better, and live longer.  No one get’s excited about cutting calories, (especially when you’re a hungry dog) but we have a few tricks to make dieting simple, effective and a little fun.

Daily Recommended Calories for an Average Adult Dog

Set a Goal and Start Counting Calories

Determine both your dog’s current weight and his ideal weight. Talk to your vet about what your dog’s weight should be or bring your dog into The Happy Beast and we can make a suggestion. The easiest way to determine the calories in your animal’s current and ideal diet is…. to let us do it for you! Once you have a target weight, we can factor in age, breed, and activity level to help determine how many calories your dog needs. As a general guideline, look at the feeding suggestion on your dog’s food to find your dog’s IDEAL weight and feed 75% of that amount. For example. If your dog’s goal weight is 30 lbs and the label of his dog food recommends 1 cup of food, feed him only ¾ cup.

 

Fruitables Crunchy Treats

Treats are OK!

Cutting out treats is a foolproof way to reduce calories, but it’s definitely not necessary for success. In fact, a couple of treats during the day may help your dog feel more satisfied. Just make sure to factor treats into your dog’s daily calorie “budget.” Look for treats with the calories printed on the label. Fruitables’ Crunchy Treats and Boulder Dog Food Co.’s Bison Cubes have just 8 calories per treat. Decide how many treats you want to give your dog each day, and subtract the calorie-equivalent from his normal meals.

Chewing on bones and tendons also provides important dental care. If chewing is part of your dog’s routine, choose lower-calorie options and feed your dog less on days he gets a treat. Marrow bones and bully sticks have enough calories to replace a whole meal for a medium size dog. A tendon or cow cheek would replace fewer calories.

 

PetSafe’s Magic Mushroom

When I’m Bored… I Eat

Make dinnertime a game! Dogs have a natural instinct to forage for their food. Instead of feeding your dog out of a bowl, make him work for it! Fill a puzzle toy like the PetSafe’s Magic Mushroom with a serving of kibble and let him knock it around until the food falls out. If you’re feeding canned or raw food, stuff it into a Kong or spread it out on a large, flat plate. All of these will force your dog to slow down meal time and enjoy smaller bites (instead of gulping down everything at once) leaving him more satisfied. Feeding this way also provides mental stimulation and reduces boredom.

 

The Honest Kitchen dehydrated turkey

Add Fresher Foods

Besides their basic nutritional benefits, fresher foods help your dog feel more satiated. Kibble is typically very calorie-dense so it doesn’t take up much space in the stomach and can leave your dog feeling hungry. Because of their high moisture content, dehydrated, canned, and raw foods can help your dog feel full. Replace some or all of your dog’s kibble with a fresher food. Try Steve’s, Primal and SmallBatch frozen raw, Grandma Lucy’s, Sojo’s or The Honest Kitchen dehydrated.

 

trail-running-w-dog_The-Happy-Beast

Get moving!

Exercise doesn’t need to be a lofty goal. Thirty minutes a day is a good starting point, especially if your dog isn’t very active. Divide that time up into a few ten-minute walks or five-minute games of fetch.

Ready to start your dog on a healthy weight program? Stop by The Happy Beast and we’ll lay out an easy-to-follow plan for you and your dog!

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