How to get variety in your dog’s diet

I read a post on Facebook the other day that piqued my interest. The writer said

“Did you know that science repeatedly tells us that given free choice, dogs choose at least 50 different food types and cats at least 40, on a frequent basis? And that out of choice, dogs take more than 65% and cats more than 70%, of their diet from animal origin."

With this in mind I’ve put together some ideas and healthy additions to add variety in your dog’s diet.

Many of us will be aware that dog food, and feeding, are very contentious issues. I have seen many an argument erupt as a result of very strong and differing opinions on the subject. I am staying well away from the raw vs tinned vs dry debate, purely because I have no substantial scientific facts to argue either way.

What I am going to suggest is if you feed dry, then there's a way you can vary their diet without changing how you feed them.

Food Rotation

This is a concept I became aware of a few years ago when I was trawling through sites looking for ways to try and help Layla with her food allergies.

It’s generally accepted that no food is perfect, and as a result they will generally have a deficiency somewhere in their make-up. By rotating your dog’s food, it allows for these gaps in their diet to be filled. It also provides your dog with variety that they wouldn’t otherwise receive. Some who chose to feed this way rotate foods daily, while others choose weekly or monthly, or just when one bag is finished they move on to another. For some dogs this can have a detrimental effect on their gut as some are too sensitive to tolerate this type of change, so be vigilant is you decide to try this option.

Another method may be to keep the same variety of kibble and just add a bit of wet food into the mix. The flavours of the tins can then be changed to give your dog some variety to their diets.

 

What about veg?

One way that I like to add variety to Layla’s diet is to add fruit and vegetables into the mix.

fruits and vegetables to give your dog

This graphic from ‘House of Henry’ shows how adding fruit and veg to your dog’s diet can give them a mix of vitamins and minerals that may be missing with their current diet. I’m not sure I know of a dog that doesn’t like to snack on a carrot. Just make sure that when you feed fruit you remove the seeds (the seeds of apples contain cyanide and if broken when eaten can cause serious illness – it’s even recognised as an issue by poison control, as I found out when my vet had to call them once).

I think Layla is a fruit bat in disguise! I’ve had to make sure my blueberries and strawberries are in pots, as when they come out I have to move them out of her reach – otherwise she can be found plucking the fruit off at will! She’s also shown 4 dogs in the village how to pick blackberries when out on walks!!

I think Layla is a fruit bat in disguise! I’ve had to make sure my blueberries and strawberries are in pots, as when they come out I have to move them out of her reach – otherwise she can be found plucking the fruit off at will! She’s also shown 4 dogs in the village how to pick blackberries when out on walks!!

Another way to improve your dog’s diet is to allow them to graze on certain plants and herbs. I know that one of Layla’s favourites is cleavers (aka sticky weed or goosegrass, to name a few). It was a surprise to me to find that many ‘weeds’ have medicinal properties and cleavers is no exception. Altnature.com describes cleavers as:

• alterative (tendency to restore to normal health)

• anti-inflammatory

• antiphlogistic (relieves inflammation and fever)

• aperient (mild laxative)

• astringent (constrict tissues)

• depurative (purifying and detoxifying)

• diaphoretic (increase perspiration)

• diuretic (increases passing of urine)

• febrifuge (reduce fever)

• tonic (give a feeling of wellbeing)

• vulnerary (wound healing)

Who would have thought a weed we used to play with as kids would have such incredible properties. It’s no wonder cleavers is the first plant Layla seeks out when she has an upset gut.

 

I hope this has given you a different perspective on your dog’s diet.  I think of it like this - as wonderful as chocolate is, I’m pretty sure I’d be sick of the taste if that’s all I ate for a month!

 

Maybe there’s a way you can increase the variety in your dog's diet.  I’d love to hear how you get on, so please come and join the conversation over on Facebook.