Have you been feeding your pet the same kibble for years? Here’s why you should consider switching it up – and how to use the changing seasons as a guide!
Have you ever noticed that you feel hungrier in cold weather? Just like us humans, dogs require more calories for warmth during the colder seasons of the year – and they might appreciate lighter meals when the weather is at its hottest!
While it is convenient to feed your dog the same diet all year, seasonal feeding just might be better for him. And even if his favorite commercial dog food is nutritionally complete and balanced, your dog will probably enjoy the opportunity to savor different flavors all throughout the year. Ready to give seasonal dog feeding a try? Here are some top tips for changing up your dog’s diet with the seasons.
Step one: consider protein rotation
Protein rotation is a fantastic way to optimize your dog’s health. This approach helps prevent overexposure to a single kind of protein, and it can help alleviate issues such as allergies.
You don’t have to wait for the seasons to change if you’d like to try this approach. Some pet parents rotate their dogs’ protein intake on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Be sure to check ingredients if you’re offering commercial dog food since both wet and dry dog food often contain the same popular protein sources such as chicken or turkey. If you are feeding fresh food, either homemade or from a pet food delivery service, you might find it’s a bit easier to rotate your dog’s protein source.
Top your dog’s meals with seasonal veggies
What’s in season? Spring veggies like peas and carrots are favorites with dogs, and many enjoy summertime options like fresh spinach, small amounts of sweet corn, and other items from your garden or the farmers market. Autumn is the perfect time to treat your dog to fiber-rich pumpkin or squash, and winter is the ideal season for heavier options such as sweet potatoes. Of course, your dog will appreciate variety any time of year!
Offer more healthy carbs in winter
Unless your dog is a complete couch potato, winter is the perfect time to round up their calorie intake! Even with heavy fur coats, cold weather activities require more energy – up to three times as many calories as are needed during summertime, in some cases.
This doesn’t mean that you have to offer lots of grains; in fact, some dogs can be sensitive to wheat and other grain-based options. Of course, many dogs are perfectly fine with grains such as oats and barley, particularly when they are offered as part of a healthy wintertime stew. Consider legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other high-calorie options when adding starch to your dog’s winter diet.
Do keep your dog’s activity level in mind when deciding whether to offer more carbohydrates during colder months. Inactivity can lead to unwanted weight gain, so if your dog is less active in winter, you might need to cut back!
Active dogs may need extra fat during cold weather
There may be no need to add extra fat if you are offering a commercial food or a fresh food from a dog food delivery service since these foods are formulated with all the nutrients your dog needs – so long as their activity level is average, and so long as they aren’t frequently exposed to cold temperatures, that is!
If your dog has a far higher than average energy expenditure, you might consider adding a dollop of organic coconut oil or a pat of real butter to their food. Animal fat is also ideal for dogs, as it’s part of their natural diet. Fatty fish such as salmon can provide additional calories, as well.
Your dog’s fat needs might change seasonally depending on his activity level, age, size, and other individual factors. Keep an eye on his waistline to determine whether to add a little more fat to his diet, or cut back a bit when warm weather returns. You can also check with your vet to determine whether you are feeding the right amount.
As it turns out, it’s easy to switch up your dog’s diet with the seasons, particularly if you enjoy a variety of fresh foods yourself. Simply adding different veggies can encourage better nutrition all year round while making your dog’s life more enjoyable.