In order for thriving health to occur, all living things must consume the foods they were designed to eat. This is known as species-appropriate nutrition.
Certain species will die if not fed appropriately. Dogs, like humans, are more resilient and can eat a number of things their bodies were not designed to eat.
However, their health and vitality suffers. Read on to find out more about the ramifications of feeding kibble and what to feed instead.
Issues with Kibble
Kibble is essentially fast food for pets. Here are some of the main problems with dry pet food:
1. Feed Grade Ingredients
What’s alarming is that pet feeds that are allowed to contain diseased animal material and meat ingredients sourced from non-slaughtered animals - with no disclosure requirement.
The FDA says, “Processed pet food, including pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, goes through high heat processing, which is designed to kill harmful bacteria...”
Rendering is one of the processing methods of sanitizing otherwise putrid, inedible animal by-products and animal waste. Many ingredients in pet food today are from rendering plants.
Consuming these highly processed ingredients leads to other issues:
2. Highly Processed Ingredients
Many of the nutrients in kibble are lost during the high-heat process, so flavor enhancers and synthetic nutrients are added to replace what has been lost.
Different types of acrylamide and other carcinogens are created in this process that could be detrimental to your dog’s long-term health.
3. High-Starch Carbohydrate Content
Grains and other high-starch carbohydrates like high-glycemic, genetically engineered corn, wheat, rice or potato make up the majority of kibble. Even grain-free kibble often contains high-levels of starchy carbs including legumes, peas & lentils.
This creates metabolically stressful insulin, glucagon and cortisol spikes throughout the day. The high carb content also contributes to the growing epidemic of pet obesity.
4. Low Moisture
Kibble is a low-moisture product, which puts a dog in a constant state of dehydration. Think of it like eating nothing but Saltine crackers. When a dog gets dehydrated, they experience several harmful symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced energy levels and/or lethargy
- Sunken, dry-looking eyes
- Dry nose and gums
- Loss of skin elasticity
5. Increased Bacteria Risk
In dry pet food, there’s a risk for bacteria and mycotoxins to be present. Also, storage mites can multiply rapidly in dry food. Pets can develop a hypersensitivity to storage mites, resulting in itchy inflamed skin, hair loss and ear infections.
6. Goes Rancid Quickly
As soon as you open a bag of dry food, the fats in the food & sprayed on the food during production start to go rancid. Long-term consumption of rancid fats in kibble can destroy vitamins, which can lead to vitamin, protein and fat deficiencies.
Even more alarming, many other health issues have been attributed to rancid fats including malnutrition, hair loss, diarrhea, kidney and liver disease, reproductive problems and even cancer and death.
7. Added Colors and Chemicals
Many food dyes, referred to by the Center for Science in the Public Interest as the “Rainbow of Risks”, have been banned because of their negative effects on laboratory animals. This report finds that several of the nine approved food dyes could be causing serious health issues, including cancer and hypersensitivity reactions.
We’ve shown that kibble is not the healthiest choice for your dog. As it stands, the only benefits of kibble are convenience and cost. You can easily store it and travel with it. Also, the majority of kibble options are fairly inexpensive, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality.
What Should Dogs Eat Instead?
The optimal diet for dogs includes fresh, whole foods made from human-grade ingredients. They should be grass-fed, free-range and organic, if possible.
The optimal diet for your dog also includes healthy fats, high moisture (around 70%) and is a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients. A great way to feed this balanced diet is with raw food.
A raw diet for dogs includes simply fresh, whole foods that are uncooked and minimally processed. Meats and greens that are fresh, uncooked and wild make up the diet that dogs and cats evolved to eat. It’s what canine species in the wild still eat.
Raw food is more easily absorbed and contains vital naturally occurring enzymes and vitamins that cooking destroys. Living foods that are unprocessed, fresh and whole enable our pets to thrive. And it’s the diet that lets dogs be their happiest and healthiest.
Fun fact: Humans are actually the only species to cook their food — and while your loving pups may be like family, that doesn’t mean they should eat like we do!
Finally, if you do choose to feed dry food, choose an organic option with no "4-D" meat: This is meat taken from dying, diseased, disabled and dead livestock that is not fit for human consumption. Look for dog food brands that use “human grade” meats, which contain much more specific meat ingredients rather than generically named meat sources.
Benefits of a Raw Diet
With a whole foods, minimally-processed diet, your dog will experience:
- Leaner, more muscular build. Nearly 60% of dogs are overweight or obese based on body condition scoring, which leads to a number of related conditions.
- Skin & coat improvements
- Cleaner teeth & fresher breath
- Less odors
- Vibrant, calm energy
Choose What’s Best for Your Pet
The most important thing is that you’re choosing what keeps your pet happy and healthy, while also staying within your budget.
Going raw with your pet does not have to be an all or nothing approach - adding even small amounts of raw to your pets diet has shown to improve overall health.