The Kibble Lie
Whenever someone learns that I'm a Dog Nutrition Blogger they inevitably ask for my thoughts on the food they feed their dog. Unless the food is Carna4 or ZiwiPeak (two brands I use as training treats), I have to give the food the thumbs down.
“But it's a quality kibble!”
I know. The pet stores are filled with quality kibbles and I fed several of them to my dogs and it took me years to undo the damage. Whenever someone tells me that they feed their dog a quality kibble, I chuckle at the memory of me saying the same to the blogger behind Catcentric.org – her response was “there's no such thing as a quality kibble.”
Rodrigo had digestive issues, chronic ear infections, environmental and food allergies, itchy paws that he licked until they developed sores, and he rarely had a solid poop. Plus, he developed arthritis before he reached two years of age. Basically, he was a hot mess and I blame three things for his poor health:
- Quality kibble
- Chemical flea and tick repellents
Why Kibble isn't Good for Dogs (or Cats)
Kibble is an over-processed, repeatedly baked food that has lost all nutritional value so brands add in a bucket load of synthetic vitamins that are bought in a mix (often sourced from China to keep the food affordable) and preservatives to allow the food to sit in a warehouse for months on end. Kibble lacks moisture, leading to dehydration and digestive issues. Because the digestive system is closely tied to the immune system, a diet of kibble will leave some dogs with poor health, like my Rodrigo, or worse.
The Meat as the First Ingredient Myth
We've been told to look for meat as the first ingredient, but this isn't the sign of a “quality” kibble. For instance, one of the leading kibble brands offers the following on their first line of ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine), Turkey Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols).
- The deboned chicken has water and, of course, water adds weight. The reason “deboned chicken” is first is that of the water, not the chicken.
- Chicken meal is chicken with the water removed, but in this food, they are using the meal as a source of glucosamine because the meal is mostly chicken bone, not chicken meat.
- Turkey meal is the THIRD ingredient, which means that there is more water (deboned chicken) and bone (chicken meal) than turkey in this food.
- The brand adds peas and pea protein to boost the protein amount.
- Chicken fat causes the kibble to go bad faster once the bag is open and the fat begins to oxidize. And guess what! Transferring the food to a plastic container will make it go bad even faster – the dog food bags are made from products that slow oxidation, plastic containers do not.
It's all a crock.
Benefits of Raw Feeding
- Better digestion
- Stronger immune system
- Improved joint health and mobility
- Healthier weight
- Fewer to no allergies
- Fewer chronic illnesses
- Smaller, less smelly poop
- Gorgeous coat and healthy skin
- Strong, white, clean teeth
- Fewer vet visits
The benefits I've noticed have been tremendous. If you met Rodrigo today, you'd never know he had joint issues. His digestive system is much improved. He no longer gets ear infections. And he only licks his paws as a grooming task.
Why I Don't Promote Kibble
I'm not a fan of kibble because it made my dog sick. Natural food made him healthy. Yes, kibble is convenient, it's easy, it's balanced, it comes with loads of vitamins and minerals, and it's affordable. But kibble isn't biologically appropriate. There are many reasons why people choose to feed their dog a kibble diet and it's not my place to judge those reasons.
Instead of judging YOU, I'd prefer to share what I'm learning about raw feeding and maybe when you're ready, you'll add something natural to your dog's diet. Even a can of sardines (in water, no salt added) and a digestive supplement would be great!!!
What if You Can’t Feed Raw?
Not everyone can feed raw. You can still be in the research phase, you may not have the budget or storage, or many other reasons. I understand that someone's unwillingness or inability to feed raw doesn't mean that they love their dog any less than I love my dogs. Therefore, I created this resource to help others as they take the time they need to consider transitioning to a biologically appropriate diet.
Kibble and Dehydrated Brands I Recommend
- Carna4 – it’s expensive, but they slow bake and don’t add synthetic vitamins.
- Ziwi Peak – because it’s not kibble (little, slow baked meat squares), my dogs love it, and it doubles as training treats.
- NRG Dehydrated Dog Food – this is a brand that I began buying a couple years ago because they offer salmon, a protein that I don’t see in many premade raw brands. Fantastic food and a little goes a long way.
- The Honest Kitchen – human grade ingredients made by a team who is passionate about feeding healthy food. Plus they have treats, dehydrated goat’s milk, and more.
Freeze Dried Raw I Recommend
- Vital Essentials Raw
- Primal Pet (please note that their poultry is HPP*)
- Steve’s Real Food
*HPP (High-Pressure Pasteurization) is a method some raw brands use to kill bacteria in premade raw. Some feel that it makes raw more accessible while others feel that the process makes takes the raw benefits out of the food. I mostly see HPP used on poultry products.
Making Kibble Healthy While You Research Raw Feeding
If you’re not ready to switch to raw yet, but want to make your dog’s current diet healthier, try these tips:
Soak the kibble in water or bone broth; bone broth comes with a lot of nutrients that will help make a kibble diet healthier. And soaking kibble in a liquid makes it easier to digest.
Add fresh food to the kibble; this can include vegetables (pureed or fermented) and sardines (1 can a week – soaked in water with no salt added). We puree vegetables to break the cellular wall, making it easier for dogs to digest the additional nutrients. Vegetables offer antioxidants. Fermented vegetables add a natural source of probiotics, helping to strengthen a dog’s gut and immune system. And sardines provide Omega 3 fatty acids which are great for skin, coat, brain, joints, and more.
Add a digestive supplement; one of the complaints I have about kibble is that it’s difficult for some dogs to digest. Adding a quality digestive supplement (I recommend FullBucket) to a kibble diet will help a dog get the nutrients they need while keeping their gut healthy.
Mix cooked food into the kibble; I used to do this to make kibble more appealing to my dogs. Avoid cooked bones, of course, but feel free to add cooked ground beef, turkey, chicken, eggs, sardines, and other dog safe ingredients into your dog’s kibble. I'm not a proponent of mixing raw within a kibble meal because it made my dogs sick. If you are interested in feeding a hybrid diet please scroll down to the Facebook group recommendations below.
Please note: I do not recommend kibble for cats because it leads to urinary tract and other health issues. Kibble isn’t ideal for pets, however, it does some serious damage to a cat’s system. CLICK HERE to read how I transitioned my cat from kibble crack to pouch (food in a pouch instead of a can) cat food by Weruva.
Over Vaccination in Dogs
Did you know that after the one-year booster vaccination, many dogs don't need additional shots? Yeah, I didn't know this either. Our first vet told me annual vaccinations were necessary. They're not. Years later, I learned about titer testing, a blood test that helps you see how much of the vaccination antibodies still exist in a dog's system. Many holistic veterinarians believe that vaccinations provide 7 years or more (lifetime) protection. So why are we pumping chemicals into our dogs' systems annually?
Have you noticed that your dog is a little out of it after vaccinations? We're compromising their immune system in an attempt to protect them. And we're doing this over and over again. And what astounds me is that we're being pressured to vaccinate our dogs against illnesses that are rare or non-existent.
Chemical Flea & Tick Repellents
It breaks my heart to think of the awful flea collar we put on my childhood dog. That thing smelled awful to me; it must have been a nightmare for him. Today, we have four dogs and we have never had an issue with fleas. At first, I gave credit to Frontline Plus. But I switched to natural treatments before I switched to raw and still, no fleas. A friend recommended essential oils, only turning to Frontline Plus if we have a bad flea year. She also suggested dividing one tube of Frontline Plus between all of my dogs instead of using one tube per dog. Together, the Frontline and the essential oils, they protected my dogs.