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The Trouble with Kibble: 4 Things You Don’t Know About Dry Dog Food

| Published on September 12, 2019

If you love your dog, and we know you do, you might want to start thinking about his food the way you do your own.  Do you wonder why every piece of kibble is the exact same shape? Are you curious how kibble can sit in a pantry for years at a time and not go bad? Do you ever think about how kibble is affecting your dog’s health? Just as with human food, not all dog food is created equal.

If you are one of the curious pet parents out there who has questions about kibble, stick around to learn 4 things you didn’t know about kibble and an option that may work better for you and your dog.

1. How Kibble is Made

Surely you don’t eat them every day, but over the course of your life we’d guess you’ve eaten your fair share of chicken nuggets. We know that meat of questionable quality or designation is ground up into a paste and injected into chicken nugget-shaped forms for baking. Even though they are tasty and convenient, we know we wouldn’t feel, look, or be at our best if we ate them everyday.

Kibble and chicken nuggets are not all that different. Yet, we often don’t think twice about feeding them to our dog, everyday, for their entire lives.

When kibble is made, raw meats, vegetables, carbs, and fillers, are mixed together to make a dough, which is then placed into a machine. Hot water or steam is applied at extremely high temperatures and pressure, which ‘cooks’ the dough. Extreme heat and pressure zaps the moisture and nutrients out of the chicken, salmon, or other combos of ingredients in your dog’s kibble.

The dried brown bits of kibble are unappetizing to even the hungriest dog, so they are then sprayed with animals fats to make them palatable. Vitamins are added, to try to make up for what was lost during the cooking process, and artificial colors (such as caramel) and preservatives are added to make sure the food stays and looks ‘good’ to the humans buying it. By the time it’s done it’s pretty far removed from the whole ingredients that were originally used.

2. What Ingredients Go into Kibble

You’ve read the exposés on taco meat and hotdogs, and you know that regulations on what counts as ‘meat’ in human food are flimsy at best and suspicious at worst. Knowing that, do you think it is any better for dog food regulations?

What counts as a ‘meat’ source in dog food can range. Whole, ground carcasses may be used, and animals can include those that are sick, diseased, or dying. Vegetables are usually limited to whatever’s cheapest, and more expensive superfoods aren’t used, not that they would survive the high-heat processing anyway. Carbs bulk things up and provide body to the kibble dough.

Vitamins are added to many dog foods to compensate for those lost during cooking. However, not all vitamins are created equal, either. Unstated vitamin sources are often a sign that synthetic vitamins are used, typically sourced from China. If your dog is fed synthetic vitamins that they are unable to process, the side effects can include malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. The bottom line? The ingredients are low-quality, synthetic, and possibly from diseased sources.

3. How Kibble Impacts Health and Wellness

Poor quality kibble is like any unhealthy diet. It opens your dog to long-term health risks that are becoming increasingly hard to deny. Do you ever wonder why so many dogs are overweight or obese at a young age, or why food allergies are so high? Could low-quality kibble be the cause?

Many ingredients in kibble have been linked to a range of conditions and research has clearly shown the benefits of alternative diets such as home-cooked dog food diets, in reducing the incidence of these. This TedxTalk by Rodney Habib does a great job of exploring the correlation of kibble and other processed foods to shortened life spans in dogs.

4. Is Your Vet a Nutrition Expert?

Many of us rely on a veterinarian to recommend food for our dog. Veterinarians focus on a range of topics in veterinary school, nutrition being a small part of that.

Veterinarians who are passionate about nutrition can acquire an additional degree to earn the title of a ‘Veterinary Nutritionist.’ There are only 100 veterinarians with this additional qualification in the entire United States, and you can find the full list here.

Is your veterinarian a Veterinary Nutritionist? If so, you should absolutely take their guidance on the right diet for your dog. If not, you may need to rely on a variety of sources to make the best decision for your pup.

While veterinarians generally care deeply for animals, they may not have the resources available, or even the time, to adequately assess all dog foods on the market. Add to this the frequent recalls and health scares and the dog food market can be downright confusing.

A Healthier Option

If you think dogs deserve to be fed right like any other member of the family, there is a healthier option for you. Fresh, real, whole food can be delivered right to your door, portioned perfectly for your pup. And with many services available, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your pup. Check out the 10 Best Fresh Dog Food Brands!




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