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I'm considering a possible rotational diet for my dogs using the brands Acana (with wholesome grains Kentucky Farms/ fresh and saltwater fish variety) , Orijen (six fish), Wellness Raw Rev wholesome grains (Ocean variety and Original) and possibly Open Farm (not sure which formula).

To people who feed a rotational diet of different kibble brands, I was wondering how often I should switch it up? Every month? Or maybe stick with the same thing for two or three months and then switch? Will the dogs still get a good variety if I stick with the same primary protein but different manufacturers (ie if I feed the fish variety of both the Acana and the Wellness)? Or when I switch brand formulas should I also switch the primary protein also?

Any advice on feeding a rotational kibble diet would be greatly appreciated!!

I do know not to do a sudden transition. That abt 2 weeks before I run out of the old food to start introducing the new food slowly.
 

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I'll be honest, I just pick up something different pretty much every time I grab a new bag. Not 100% entirely new every time - we tend to stick to the same couple food lines and switch between flavors within those - but it's rare that we buy the exact same flavor of the exact same brand/line twice in a row. I do like to mix protein up and aim for mostly red meat, but switch in fish-based foods fairly often, and pick poultry-based formulas only rarely, but that's more personal preference and honestly doesn't seem to make much difference to him at all. It's more of a "oh hey he hasn't had fish in the while, let's get the Pacific formula" than something planned ahead to make sure he gets fish every third bag, you know?

I'm feeding one small, neutered, mature dog (the adolescent is largely raw fed, but will sometimes get kibble breakfasts), so that tends to work out to rotating every 6-ish weeks? Maybe once a month at most, depending on the size of the bag we go with. We don't have the storage to keep giant bags fresh for the time it'd take Sam to go through it, so we stick to <10lb options most of the time.

To be fair, he has absolutely no food allergies/sensitivities that we're aware of, will eat basically anything enthusiastically, and has never had any GI trouble transitioning to different kibble. I would probably be a little less slapdash about it if he had more demanding dietary needs, but since he doesn't, I mostly just make sure I'm confident that the brands/formula lines I'm choosing between are decent quality and pick something that looks good in the moment. There's only a couple things we don't plan on re-purchasing, and it's mostly for stuff like "gave him absolutely massive poops", nothing serious.
 

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When I rotate, I do pretty much the same as DaySleepers, with one exception - I use a 50/50 mix of two different kibbles all the time. One of the brands is one that I know they do exceptionally well on, but change proteins with each bag & the other is chosen from a short list of a few brands that are decent, picked randomly when I place my order with Chewy.

I don't do a very formal transition when changing. When we're down to less than a week's worth of kibble I empty the food bin, clean it thoroughly & then pour in the new kibble mixture. I spread the remaining old food in a layer on top & sort of scoop off the surface for the next several meals. So they do get a mixture during the transition, just not a calculated or formally measured one.

I do also have dogs that will eat anything that doesn't eat them first. One, however, has food sensitivity to poultry and now two of the three seniors have medical conditions that necessitate specific dietary considerations, but I still try to mix it up within their own parameters as best as I can.
 

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I'll be honest, I just pick up something different pretty much every time I grab a new bag. Not 100% entirely new every time - we tend to stick to the same couple food lines and switch between flavors within those - but it's rare that we buy the exact same flavor of the exact same brand/line twice in a row. I do like to mix protein up and aim for mostly red meat, but switch in fish-based foods fairly often, and pick poultry-based formulas only rarely, but that's more personal preference and honestly doesn't seem to make much difference to him at all. It's more of a "oh hey he hasn't had fish in the while, let's get the Pacific formula" than something planned ahead to make sure he gets fish every third bag, you know?

I'm feeding one small, neutered, mature dog (the adolescent is largely raw fed, but will sometimes get kibble breakfasts), so that tends to work out to rotating every 6-ish weeks? Maybe once a month at most, depending on the size of the bag we go with. We don't have the storage to keep giant bags fresh for the time it'd take Sam to go through it, so we stick to <10lb options most of the time.

To be fair, he has absolutely no food allergies/sensitivities that we're aware of, will eat basically anything enthusiastically, and has never had any GI trouble transitioning to different kibble. I would probably be a little less slapdash about it if he had more demanding dietary needs, but since he doesn't, I mostly just make sure I'm confident that the brands/formula lines I'm choosing between are decent quality and pick something that looks good in the moment. There's only a couple things we don't plan on re-purchasing, and it's mostly for stuff like "gave him absolutely massive poops", nothing serious.
I have two dogs and for years that's how I fed my older dog. I had several brands that I liked and trusted. Just as you said, when I went to the store, I would buy whatever looked good at the moment. Never really had a problem switching foods really didn't even need to do a transition.

My younger dog I adopted from the shelter over the summer. I'm discovering she has so many food allergies/ food sensitivities that feeding her that way just isn't going to work out! Most of the dog kibble brands that I had purchased in the past (TOTW, Wholesome Farms, Simply Nourish), has had her fur falling out, itching like crazy, and erupting in hot spots! If she eats any new food that isn't slowly transitioned into her diet or if she eats any amount of human food other than pure plain meat, she will be vomiting and losing control over her bowels for at least half the day!

Because of her sensitivities it's just easier to pre plan a "menu" of 4-6 kibbles to choose from and stick with that. All this pre-planning and research is worth not having to scrub puddles of liquid dog poo out of my carpet! I'm hoping just having 4 - 6 formulas that I go between, that it will make transitioning to the different formulas easier for her. I should have mentioned her issues in the original post! It's because of her issues I'm wondering how often I should switch it up. Obviously not more than once a month! But I'm a little worried doing it every month is going to be too upsetting to her system. I'm leaning towards every two or three months.

I would of just stuck with the one kibble formula that has so far worked out for her, but in doing research on dog nutrition, allergies/sensitivities, and dog kibble, I've come to the conclusion that it's actually better for her to have a small rotation of different kibble formulas in her diet.
 

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I have two dogs and for years that's how I fed my older dog. I had several brands that I liked and trusted. Just as you said, when I went to the store, I would buy whatever looked good at the moment. Never really had a problem switching foods really didn't even need to do a transition.

My younger dog I adopted from the shelter over the summer. I'm discovering she has so many food allergies/ food sensitivities that feeding her that way just isn't going to work out! Most of the dog kibble brands that I had purchased in the past (TOTW, Wholesome Farms, Simply Nourish), has had her fur falling out, itching like crazy, and erupting in hot spots! If she eats any new food that isn't slowly transitioned into her diet or if she eats any amount of human food other than pure plain meat, she will be vomiting and losing control over her bowels for at least half the day!

Because of her sensitivities it's just easier to pre plan a "menu" of 4-6 kibbles to choose from and stick with that. All this pre-planning and research is worth not having to scrub puddles of liquid dog poo out of my carpet! I'm hoping just having 4 - 6 formulas that I go between, that it will make transitioning to the different formulas easier for her. I should have mentioned her issues in the original post! It's because of her issues I'm wondering how often I should switch it up. Obviously not more than once a month! But I'm a little worried doing it every month is going to be too upsetting to her system. I'm leaning towards every two or three months.

I would of just stuck with the one kibble formula that has so far worked out for her, but in doing research on dog nutrition, allergies/sensitivities, and dog kibble, I've come to the conclusion that it's actually better for her to have a small rotation of different kibble formulas in her diet.
When dealing with a dog who has food sensitivities, that's a whole different ball game. If you can come up with two or three different brands that she does well on, and rotate between those, (with whatever frequency) I'd call it good. Honestly, if you can only find ONE brand of food (or two?) that tends to 'agree' with her system - I'd stick to that. Rotating is a really good idea for a 'normal' dog's digestive system. When you're working with limited options due to intolerances... you have to pick your battles carefully!

My 11.5 year old that is intolerant to poultry has recently been diagnosed with a mild IBD + some pancreatic insufficiency & suggested to be put on a low fat diet. The only one with a low enough fat content + no poultry is The Honest Kitchen, dehydrated Beef & Oats. (even the Vet recommended Royal Canin Rx Low Fat Diet has chicken as its base protein) They - THK - also have a fish formula with just a little higher fat content, so we tried that as a 'rotation' recently (good results!) so he's going to be rotating between those two flavors within the same brand for the duration.

Would I prefer to rotate him on more brands? Yes. Will I risk another bout of severe digestive distress? NO. He's sticking with THK at this point.

Again - rotation is good. Digestive distress is not. Pick your battles. As long as the food you feed is AAFCO compliant, your dog is going to be getting all the necessary nutrients. Perhaps you can find some fresh food 'toppers' that she tolerates to add additional nutrients & variety to her kibble (and will make you feel better about what you're feeding)? Mine get Greek Yogurt every morning & my early CKD senior gets a scrambled egg white mixed in with her evening low-phosphorus kibble. Green beans, pumpkin, sweet potato, tripe & sardines are also used as regular toppers. It's a balancing act.
 

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Ah, yeah, then you're in a much trickier situation! I'm with BKaymuttleycrew in that, while it's good for many dogs, rotational diets might not be best for her. The sensitivity to diet change worries me more than her allergies, because if it were just allergies, it'd just be a matter of finding 3-5 formulas that work for her and rotating between them, but if transitioning is difficult on her, the stress to her GI system might do more harm than good.

If I were in your shoes and committed to offering her a rotation, I'd test every individual formula I wanted to add to her rotation for an extended period. Like 4-6 months, or longer if you know it takes some time for some of her symptoms to show up. Once I was certain she was thriving on that formula long-term, it would go on the 'approved' list. During this period - and possibly after - I'd probably try to jot down quick notes daily (like what her poos are like, her weight, anything you notice about her coat changing, itchiness, or if her behavior seems off in some way) so that I had a record to look back through and more accurately judge whether she's doing well or not. I say try, because I am TERRIBLE at journaling and would struggle to keep it up consistently, but the more observational evidence you can put down in black and white, the easier it's going to be to confidently plan her diet.

When I had enough formulas to try the rotation, I'd still probably give her 2-3 months between each transition to make sure her gut was settled and happy and not struggling with too much change too fast. I'd also be watching each formula like a hawk because companies have a bad habit of changing their formulations unannounced. Probably clip out the ingredients list from the bag that works for her to have a 'master' to compare, especially any time I noticed a updated bag design or the brand name was sold to a new owner or merged with a larger company. You could probably set up news alerts with the formula/brand/parent company names, though might have to deal with a lot of irrelevant information that way.
 
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