A reader in West Los Angeles wrote:
“Do you feed your dogs the many different kinds of raw meat you share on Raw (Food) Deals? Do you rotate or does it just depend on what’s on sale?
My vet (who supports the raw, meaty bone diet) told me not to mix meats in the same meal. Since I feed them red meat based kibble, I just always give them red meat. Thoughts?”
I feed my dogs as many different animal proteins as I can, for the same reason I seek a wide variety of foods in my own diet. Feeding the same food for extended periods of time conditions the bacteria in the gut to be sensitive and become hostile (diarrhea, vomiting) towards unfamiliar food.
The irony in the “only feed 1 (dog) food to your dog. EVER” philosophy: Look at dogs living on the edges of human life, anywhere. They’re scavengers. That’s why they hang around. They’re designed to recycle what they find on the ground.
All of which suggests to me, it’s as unnatural for dogs to live on a single protein or food source, as it is for me.
I feed every protein source I mention in Raw (Food) Deals. Not all in the same week, or even the same month, necessarily. Which protein the canines eat for the week depends on what’s in the freezer, or what’s on sale. I buy in bulk, then defrost as needed.
Until the day I’m able to source & feed 100% pastured meat, this is the safest food supply I have access to. It’s cheaper than premium kibble or canned, and many times cheaper than prepared “raw diets.”
As for mixing proteins, I mix protein-based kibble with other fresh meat proteins all the time, and haven’t detected a problem. I imagine processed protein in the gut is likely treated very differently than fresh protein.
I rarely mix fresh meats in the same meal because I’m rarely feeding 2 types at one meal, and make it easy on myself by feeding everyone the same meal, proportionate to weight. I make exceptions if a dog has been consistently intolerant of a protein. 2 dogs out of around 100 have shown a consistent inability to digest chicken. Several dogs have been reactive to chicken, if it’s fed frequently, but tolerate it fine otherwise. Same for eggs.
For 12 years I’ve fed a minimum of 4 dogs, sometimes 9 – 12 in a day, including a huge variety of breeds, sizes, and 8 weeks to 16 years. What goes in comes out, so I experience an equal sampling of canine digestive processes (read: poop). People who feed their dogs a whole food diet tend to pay a lot of attention to poop, as it tells the story about how a food is tolerated in an individual. I can’t recall an experience where mixing proteins made a difference.
Individuals show taste preferences, but on the whole, visibly benefit from a fresh protein based diet, preferably with the dental benefits of raw, meaty bones. If you can get them to eat fruit & veg, all the better, but they don’t process cellulose (plant fiber), as I understand it, so it’s advisable to cook most vegetables or grind them. The pulp left over from juicing is supposedly good, too. Vegetable tolerance is high, desire to consume, not so much.
Then there are dogs like Simone & Sheila, 2 Pibble sisters I’m fostering, who I call goat bulls! They line up at my garden fence for spinach, artichoke, asparagus, chard, lettuce, oranges, certain grasses. They LOVE their protein, but can’t wait to forage on my garden bounty, too!
Aside from the proportion of processed food in the diet, in my experience, the biggest difference in how tolerant dog guts are to change is directly proportionate to the amount & variety of whole foods going through them on a regular basis.
I can change kibble or protein, or introduce a novel food source without a transition period, and without complications in my pack, because the diet changes frequently, and the gastrointestinal tract is accustomed to processing many different molecules.
As long as the ingredients are suitable for human-consumption, you’re doing the very best you can with what’s available, IMO. FYI, many products made for dogs, including some of the most expensive kibbles, raw mixes, and treats on the market, are NOT from human-grade ingredients.