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The Kibble Lie by Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Nutrition Blogger for Keep the Tail Wagging

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.”

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My Border Collie, Rodrigo, had chronic health issues that inspired me to transition him from kibble to raw dog food. It made all the difference.
My Border Collie, Rodrigo, had chronic health issues that inspired me to transition him from kibble to raw dog food. It made all the difference.
My Border Collie, Rodrigo, had chronic health issues that inspired me to transition him from kibble to raw dog food. It made all the difference.
Our Dog Rodrigo, a Border Collie Mix and Raw Fed Dog
Our Dog Rodrigo, a Border Collie Mix and Raw Fed Dog

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
  • Over-vaccination
  • 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 MealPeas, 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 because 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.

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 where 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.

So far, we haven't had a “bad flea year” –  knock on wood.  I haven't purchased a chemical flea and tick repellent since 2012.  I use Wondercide products instead.

Today, I feed my dogs a raw food diet.  It's a combination of raw muscle meat, raw organs, raw bones, fruits, vegetables, and supplements.  On occasion, I also add raw eggs and raw goats milk to our dogs' dishes.

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.

The Kibble Lie

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 cheap.  But kibble isn't species appropriate.  If you choose to feed your dog kibble, that's your business.  Understand that although no one will be able to convince me that kibble is the right diet for dogs, no one will be able to convince me that it's okay to attack others for their choices.

Instead of judging you, I'd prefer to share what I'm learning with you and maybe, when you're ready, you'll add something natural to your dog's diet.  Even a can of sardines (in water or olive oil, low sodium) and a digestive supplement would be great!!!

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