The Importance of Protein Rotation

Feb 04, 2021 Dan


One of the hottest topics today in dog and cat food circles is how to achieve balance in their diets.  There are so many opinions and different ways to feed our pets that it can become confusing and, at times, overwhelming.  At Back To The Bone we strongly believe that nutritional balance can be achieved over time.  There is no real need to strive for nutritional balance every single day.  

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Look at your pet’s menu plan over a 3 or 4 week period.”

An important part of your pet’s menu plan should include a minimum of 3 different proteins.  There are some obvious and some not so obvious reasons for this.  Let us look at why protein rotation should be part of you dog or cat’s menu plan.


1. Boredom and Picky Eaters

Just like you would get tired of eating the same thing over and over every single day, so will our pets. Protein rotation adds variety to your dog’s and cat’s food and keeps them from getting bored with the same old food. Switching up the food will keep your pet interested in their bowl and ultimately make them less picky.

Cats can be extremely picky due to their addictive personality and their refusal to accept change.  Try mixing new proteins into a protein you know they like.

Most dogs will eat whatever is in their bowl.  Day after day! Forever!  Changing proteins will ensure you do not experience the “I refuse to eat the same old thing” look.  Some can be picky and need variety in their bowl. 


2. Vitamins, Minerals and Nutritional Balance

Feeding the same protein and mixture every single day may be preventing your pet from getting all the nutrients they need.  Mixing up the proteins provides a wider array of the right vitamins and minerals to meet their nutritional needs.

Consider the three more popular proteins of chicken, turkey and beef.

Chicken is a nice fatty mixture that is a great source of Magnesium, Vitamin E and folic acid.

Turkey is high in potassium and phosphorous, Vitamin B6, Niacin and Riboflavin.  Most turkey mixtures are quite low in fat.

Grass fed beef is an amazing source of Vitamin D and iron.  Some beef mixtures vary in fat depending on the type of beef meat used in the grinds.

The bottom line is if you are feeding only one or two types of proteins over a long period of time, your pet could be missing out in some extremely important vitamins and/or minerals allowing them to live a long and healthy life.


3. Sensitivity Prevention

Research has shown that prolonged feeding of the same food for long periods of time can cause sensitivity reactions manifesting in a variety of symptoms including itchy skin, hot spots, upset stomach and more. There have been cases where a dog that has been fed chicken its entire life suddenly develops a sensitivity to it. 

Alternating proteins instead of feeding the same food day in and day out reduces the chance of an intolerance developing and creating some nasty health issues with your cat and/or dog. 


4. Fat Content Variety

Raw fat is an extremely important component to a cat (obligate carnivore) and dog (facultative carnivore).  

It is a good idea to rotate ruminant (beef or lamb) and poultry meats to balance the saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Most domesticated ruminant meats contain too much saturated fat (SFA) and not enough polyunsaturated fat (PUFA).

On the other hand, even lean chicken parts (necks with all the skin and fat removed) have a lot of polyunsaturated fats. Rotating ruminants and poultry provide a much better foundation to balance the fats in your dog’s and cat’s diet.


What if your dog or cat will not or is unable to eat variety of proteins?

We have many customers whose pet is stuck on a single protein or blend.  This could be for many reasons; protein intolerance or sensitivity, pickiness and sometimes price comes into the equation.  In these situations, it is important to consider including a good canine or feline multi-vitamin supplement in the menu plan.  Most are powders that can be mixed right into the food and have no distinct scent that will make the bowl “unpalatable”.  Using a good multi-vitamin nutrient can provide you with the “sleep at night” peace of mind knowing your fur friend is getting everything they need.

Should I be supplementing with sea kelp?

Most of the complete dinners we offer at Back To The Bone already have the right amount of kelp mixed in.  Sea Kelp will help provide trace minerals (amongst other things) that is now missing in most of our traditionally farmed livestock.  If you’re only feeding pure proteins or blends, then it is a good idea to supplement with kelp.  If you are feeding mainly “dinners”, most already have kelp included.  You do not want to overdo kelp in your pet’s diet.  Too much kelp can put too much iodine into your pet which can cause, over the long term, thyroid gland issues.


How do I introduce new proteins to my dog or cat?

Most dogs and cats that are good eaters (not picky) and healthy can generally move directly onto a new protein.  For picky eaters or the sensitive tummy types, you might want to try introducing a new protein in small portions mixed in with a protein you know they are good with.  Over a few meals, you can increase the new protein to the point it is 100% of what they are eating.  


How often should I switch proteins?

Some raw feeders switch every three or four days.  Some weekly.  It all comes down to your pet and your lifestyle of feeding.  There is no one right way or wrong way.  The key is to get a minimum of 3 different proteins into the menu plan over a 3 or 4 week period.