One of the most surprising things for many pet owners is when their pet store recommends changing the food at least once a year. This is usually followed by the comment “my vet said Fluffy is doing fine on the food and there’s no reason to change.” Meanwhile Fluffy is being treated for gunky ears, digestive upsets, and something that looks suspiciously like allergies.
What rational human being would feed their child the same commercial food for years and expect their child to be healthy? Even if the food states that it is “complete and balanced”, we all understand the benefits of eating a varied diet of healthy food. Feeding your animal companions is exactly the same as feeding your children. You are choosing and controlling their food.
There are good reasons for varying your pets’ diet. In veterinary literature, there are many documented cases of animals with nutritional deficiencies (or excesses) and in many situations the problem arose because the animal was kept on one food for a long period of time. Even though the food may state that it is “complete and balanced” there can still be deficiencies and/or excesses of nutrients. Even though the food may state “All Life Stages” no one food can be expected to provide the precise amount of every nutrient our pets need – every vitamin and every mineral, in the exact same amounts and proportions – for the entire life of your pet.
The drawbacks of feeding a single food for years are numerous. Your pet may develop an intolerance or allergy to one or more of the ingredients. They may become addicted to the palatability enhancers used in pet foods. Overall health may suffer as their body ages – poor quality skin and coat, loss of vitality, and worse.
For all the many reason listed above, it is a good idea to switch foods at least once a year. Optimally, you should change every time you buy food. Vary both the food and the manufacturer. Many manufacturers make a range of brands/formulas. Their vitamin/mineral mix will remain the same for each brand. Don’t forget to plan ahead when you change food. Many pets, when fed a varied diet, can switch from food to food with no digestive issues. If your pet is bothered by switching, plan to slowly transition from the old food to the new food.