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A few months ago there was a blog post going around that suggested that kibble might digest faster than raw. Throughout my time as a raw feeder I've been told to never ever mix kibble and raw in the same meal, because kibble digests slower, keeping the raw in the digestive system longer than what's natural. The raw starts to decompose in the gut, making the dog sick.
I was convinced that this was true when J mixed raw and kibble and Rodrigo vomited his meal (raw and kibble) all over the sofa. The smelly, messy proof was right there. All over the sofa.
Kibble Digests Slower than Raw
I was lead to believe that raw takes 5-6 hours to digest while kibble takes 10-12 hours to digest.
Raw Digests Lower than Raw
Per the article I referenced above, after a test comparing the digestion rate between raw dog food and Science Diet (yes, I know), raw digested slightly slower than the kibble and there were bone fragments still in the gut up to 5 hours later.
What's the Answer? Which Digests Faster?
I wasn't able to find anything official on this topic, but Dr. Cathy Alinovi, DVM, HealthyPawsibilities.com, was kind enough to point me in the right direction and I found a lot of information on cat food and digestion that we may be able to apply to dogs, because both animals share a short digestive tract (reaching here, I know).
Cats fed extremely cheap food made with low-quality grains and grain by-products will pass three or more stools per day. The actual volume of these stools might even be more than the amount of food eaten. This is because as indigestible food travels through the animal, it absorbs quite a bit of water which increases its bulk. The digestibility may only be about 70 – 85% in lower quality foods.
If an animal eats a food that is highly concentrated, say more than 90% digestible, it will still produce a stool but perhaps only once a day. The stool will be well formed and firm, however, it is composed of both undigested food and the residue of intestinal secretions and bacteria.
The digestibility of the food is an important consideration for cat owners. You are paying for the amount of food in the bag or can, not the amount the cat digests and absorbs. In addition, lower digestibility means more litter box cleanup. Choosing a food simply because it appears inexpensive does not mean that it is a good buy. Cost per feeding is the only way to determine the actual cost of the food.
Although this doesn't give a definitive answer, it does make me wonder about the quality of kibble versus how fast it digests in the body. And I still don't have an answer, I'm going to return to my old standby – it depends on the dog.
Today, nearly 2 years after the sofa defacing, I know a lot more about our dogs' nutrition…
1) not enough time had passed between Rodrigo eating and vomiting on the sofa – I don't believe that the raw food decomposed to a point that it would make him sick in less than an hour. This would happen if the raw was already rotten (it wasn't) or had too much bacteria (it didn't).
2) Rodrigo has a very sensitive gut; that is why he got sick. The mixture of a rich, high-quality kibble and a raw meal (he was still new to raw feeding) was too much for his gut, so he tossed it all back up on the sofa.
That doesn't mean that I'll start mixing dry and raw in the same meal for our dogs, but I'm no longer convinced that it's a terrible idea for all dogs.
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