Food Fears: Nervous About Protein Rotation

No, no… I won’t be talking about the fear of food.  Lord knows no one is afraid of food in this house.

I’m talking about fear of new foods.  It’s something I personally struggle with; and unfortunately, it also affects how I feed the wieners.

Li'l Girl - Shiny Fur

Not the greatest picture of me,
but it does showcase my shiny coat…

Right now, for example, they are doing perfectly well on the food that they are currently on.  Soft, shiny coats, bright eyes, great skin, good stools, and just overall great health.  They are a little overweight, but that’s our fault; and I will save that discussion for another post.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that I’m constantly reading that I should be rotating their protein source.  The reasons given for doing so make perfect sense; in other words, I don’t disagree with any of the rationale behind rotating their food.  I’m simply afraid to do it.  “What if they are allergic to the new protein or some other ingredient, what if it upsets their digestive systems, what if they get skin issues, etc?”  I just can’t let go of the fear that something will go wrong.

Every previous food change has caused me a great deal of anxiety, even though each one has been for the better.  However, usually the protein source was similar… so I didn’t have to necessarily worry so much about that.  I did, of course, worry about possible sensitivities to other ingredients.  But again, the changes went well and all is wonderful with their current food.  But that’s the thing, once they are doing well on a particular food, I am just so fearful of changing it.  They will often be on the same food (even the same protein source) for a year or more just due to my fears.

I just wish I knew if it was REALLY necessary to rotate their protein source.  They’ve been on a grain-free, fish-based diet for quite a long time and they’ve done so well on it.  I certainly don’t want them to develop a sensitivity to fish, but I also don’t want to switch their protein to something that might not work as well for them.  Sigh.  I feel like it’s a catch-22.

Wolf with Fish

How the wieners see themselves…

I just made a new food order on Sunday.  It is with much anxiety that I ordered a small bag of lamb-based food as well as a small bag of their usual fish-based food, so that I can manage a slow transition.  I do not plan on transitioning them to lamb as a long-term change… it just happened to be the first different protein that I decided to work into rotation… you know, should I keep the nerve to actually stick with rotation.


What I like to pretend they’re getting… (although I’d never
actually give them raw fish due to the dangerous parasites)

I feel like what I’ve said so far would give it away, but in case you’re wondering… yes, we still feed kibble.  We currently feed ACANA Pacifica (if you’ve heard of Orijen, ACANA is Orijen’s sister brand, so to speak – they are both made by Champion).  We don’t feed just plain dry kibble, though.  They get a bit of wet food mixed in (again, fish-based, but not the same brand), as well as water to moisten, plus some added supplements (these sometimes change).

Food & Supplements

What they’re actually getting…

They gobble it up every time like they haven’t eaten for weeks, which we all know isn’t true.  But I’m glad that they seem to love their bowls of fishy goodness.

I know that everyone has their opinions on which food is best, especially raw feeders.  I am well-aware of the benefits of raw food, but we won’t be doing that anytime soon.  I have a severe phobia of raw meat (yes, you read that right) and do not even handle it to prepare for the humans around here.  Husband does all the raw meat handling.  Needless to say, I’m not going to be letting the wieners sling around wet, bacteria-laden raw meat anywhere in the house.  If you feed fresh raw, awesome… your dogs LOVE you for it.  I just can’t do it.

I have looked into dehydrated and freeze-dried raw as alternatives to fresh raw and those options are still on the table as I do more research into the different brands.  There used to only be a couple brands that offered dehydrated/freeze-dried foods, but as the concept has become more popular, I see that many new producers have popped up over the last few years – enough that there are almost too many options at this point.

Anyway, regardless if we switch from the kibble/wet mixture to dehydrated or to freeze-dried or to whatever else, the question of rotating protein sources still remains.

So tell me, do you rotate protein sources for your dogs?  If so, how often and how many different proteins do you rotate between?  I’d love to hear from everyone, regardless whether you feed kibble, canned, pouch, dehydrated/freeze-dried raw, fresh raw, etc.

◊ Wolf Photo Credit: Paul Stinsa via The Seattle Times
◊ Salmon Photo Credit: Eat Fish for Better Health via Live Healthy OSU

11 Responses to Food Fears: Nervous About Protein Rotation

  1. Hilary says:

    Since Yosuke is still a puppy, we don’t rotate his protein source. We feed him Nutro Healthy Choice (always forget the full name…it’s the light green bag!) for puppies. When he is old enough to be on adult food, we plan to rotate his food at least once or twice a year. Usually what we do is buy the same brand/type of kibble but with a different source of protein. We start with a very small bag of the food and see if he likes it and does well on it still. If all goes well, then we make the switch! 😀

    • Pam says:

      Years ago, when we just had one, he was on Nutro Natural Choice for a while. It seemed to be a pretty good food, but he was a very picky eater at the time, so we didn’t end up sticking with it because we couldn’t get him to stick with any food for very long at that time. We ended up doing homemade for a while with him. When we adopted another… funny thing… he would eat anything she would eat, and she wasn’t picky ;).
      Our first went to the Rainbow Bridge back in October, but we still have two and they aren’t picky at all. They’ll eat just about anything, so it comes down to what works best for them. They are doing great on their current food, but deep down, I keep feeling like they need the rotation… I really just need to get over my own fears of doing it.

  2. Erin says:

    My doxies get Blue Buffalo Life Protection formula, (although I’ve been debating about switching them onto the Wilderness line) and I like to switch the protein source everytime we get a new bag, usually every month and a half or so, generally between lamb, chicken, and turkey (planning on picking up the fish option next time, however). Neither one of them has ever been particular about switching proteins or experienced any digestive upsets/skin issues/ etc, but they’ve also never had problems switching among different brands either, even without a transition period (no runny poops or anything).

    By the way, I cracked up at the wolf picture and caption– my two are the same way 😉
    Erin recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Recall!My Profile

    • Pam says:

      Ours were on the regular Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula (usually chicken) for quite a long time… then we switched to the BB Wilderness line (at first chicken, then the salmon) which they were on for a pretty long time as well. Can’t remember exactly when we made the switch from Wilderness to ACANA, but they’ve done really well on it. There was nothing wrong with the Wilderness, by the way, it was an excellent food. But we think Li’l Girl started to develop a sensitivity to chicken, and the Wilderness salmon recipe still had chicken in it. We wanted to stick with a fish formula, but with no chicken… and we ended up going with ACANA. We weren’t absolutely certain about the chicken sensitivity, but she had developed some skin issues out of nowhere that we couldn’t pin on anything else. Well, when we switched to the ACANA Pacifica, all fish – no chicken, her skin issues cleared up completely and haven’t returned. So yeah, we *think* she has a problem with chicken based on that experience.
      Anyway, that’s awesome that yours do really well with food/protein rotation. Ours have never really gotten the runny stools with any of the switches either; and really, other than Li’l Girl’s mystery skin issue, have never seemed to have any major problem with any food. It’s really mostly *my fear* that gets in the way of switching up their food.
      Thanks so much for your input! It helps me to not be so nervous about rotating their proteins.

  3. I can totally relate. Especially after meeting someone recently who said her dog had no allergies or sensitivities until she turned 3 years old.

    I do switch Honey’s food occasionally. I have found that as long as I feed her very high quality food, she does not have any digestive problems when I make a change. For example, she transitioned from FreshPet to The Honest Kitchen on a recent camping trip with no problems whatsoever.

    The other reason I change proteins is because I think about the environmental impact of the food. Beef, for example, takes a lot of natural resources to produce. So I like to feed lower on the food chain.

    I’m interested to hear what you decide to do.

    • Pam says:

      Right! It’s like I’m afraid that an allergy or sensitivity will suddenly crop up out of nowhere. It may not be that likely, but I’m still afraid of it.
      At any rate, there’s now a bag of ACANA Pacifica (their usual – fish-based) and a bag of ACANA Grasslands (lamb-based) in the pantry. Will see how they do switching from one to the other. There’s also now a sample of Honest Kitchen, which we’ll probably have tonight. Honestly, if they like the Honest Kitchen sample, I may order a box to give that a real solid whirl as well. Even though they don’t just get plain dry kibble as I explained in the post, I’d still like to give them a break from it for a while… so it would be nice to do the HK for a least a few months (if not longer) as long as they like it.
      Who knows? Maybe I’ll get even more adventurous and they’ll get to try out some other dehydreated/freeze-dried options and/or food rolls. I’ve seen the FreshPet at the store and have been curious about it. Glad to hear Honey loves it and does so well on it, and that she transitioned to the Honest Kitchen with no problems.

  4. Janet Roper says:

    Yes, I rotate protein sources for my dog Max, with every new bag. I also mix and match, blending bags together in the food container. I don’t need to watch protein sources for Max, he has no allergies to them. I look at the quality of the food, and the ingredients. He eats organic/natural. I also mix in wet food from time to time. Great post!
    Janet Roper recently posted…Kitty Photo Shoot Gone BadMy Profile

    • Pam says:

      Your comment gives me more hope. I think I really just need to get over these fears. Still be cautious, yes, but not overcautious. For example, we had a sample of Honest Kitchen to try, so that’s what they had for dinner last night. They had no upset stomach last night and this morning, they had completely normal stools. Worried for nothing.
      We have two different bags of food in the pantry right now. I will do a slow transition from one to the other at first, but if they tolerate it well, I may mix the two in the container like you.

      • Janet Roper says:

        Yup, the thing to remember is to take it slowly, and watch what goes on. You can always tweak the proportions of the new/old food if you need. I’m one of those who really takes my time in transitioning to a new food, I find that it pays off to do it slowly. Good luck! 😉
        Janet Roper recently posted…Kitty Photo Shoot Gone BadMy Profile

  5. Chang nguyen says:

    I sometimes change dog food. But my dog only loves to eat meats, with other foods it is not interested and almost always do not eat.

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