I want to be upfront from the start of this article. I am not a fan of kibble (dry dog food). My goal is not push you to any type of food, brand or even to change your mind but to educate as many pet parents as I can. I want to help improve the diets of our pets with the hope of creating a healthier, long living companion. Even if you do not agree please read on as I will give you some advice into proving your dog’s diet while still feeding kibble.
Before diving into the discussion of pet nutrition let’s look at other parts to the puzzle of living a long healthy life. All of the below plays a role:
- Providing the best nutrition is no guarantee to a long and happy life but it does help and can make the difference. Genetics plays a huge role
- Using only vaccines that are needed and not over vaccinating
- Choosing not to spay and neuter to early in life. Even better push for vasectomies and tubal ligation (ovary sparing hysterectomy). Hormones play a role in all of our lives. Think of human males and females. What happens when we reach puberty, hormones increase and change our bodies. One significant role of hormones in our dogs is to tell the bones when to stop growing and at the right time.
- Appropriate veterinarian care
- Knowing your pet and performing a Snout-To-Tail exam on a regular basis
- Appropriate levels of exercise for your breed
- Plenty of fresh air. Our homes a loaded with chemical residue leaching into the air and effecting our pets
- Limiting or not using pesticides on our pets. Heartworm and flea/tick preventatives are listed as pesticides. If you are using them, use only as needed.
So let’s jump into a huge part of keeping our pets healthy, Nutrition:
I always look at the pros and cons for all of my decisions, especially when it comes to my dogs. When it comes to kibble the only pros to kibble benefit us humans not our pets and the cons simply exceed the pros, so lets start there. If you know of any other pros for dry dog food please let me know.
- Inexpensive (maybe)
- Easy to store
- Easy to travel with
- Balanced and complete (maybe)
- #1 reason it is dry. Humans and our pets are meant to eat wet food, The majority of our fluid intake should come from the foods we eat. This lack of water creates a mild, but chronic dehydration within the body and overtime damages organs like kidneys leading to kidney failure.
- You cannot store kibble for more than three weeks. As soon as you open the bag, fats sprayed on kibble will start to become rancid
- Unless you are feeding exactly what the bag recommends you are not feeding a balanced diet. If you feed what the bag states, then you will have an overweight dog.
- Better quality kibble can be very expensive, but still has the problem of being a dry food.
- Needs to be stored in an airtight container
- Storage mite allergies. One study in 2008 – 2 out of 10 bags of unopened dog food bags had storage mites. Within 5 weeks of opening and storing dry dog food 9 out of 10 bags had storage mites
- High carbohydrates. A dog’s diet should have limited carbohydrates. Carbohydrates become sugar, which spikes blood sugar. Insulin is produced to lower blood sugar levels by placing sugar in cells, which become fat. At the same time insulin slows down glucagon, which normally uses fat to full the body.
- Although by-products (heart, liver, kidneys, brain, ect) are good for your dog, by-products that are placed in commercial food are normally low quality and actually waste scraps that are not meant for human consumption.
- Most kibble is heated several times destroying virtually all the natural nutrition and fat in the food. That is why all kibble produced this way must have vitamins, minerals and fats spray on the food at the end of the process. To make this worse generally these mixes contain high level of synthetic vitamins and are produced in China.
- High heat also denatures the proteins in our pet’s foods. The change in the structure of healthy proteins that occurs during exposure to high heat is a possible trigger for food allergies. Research shows the immune system may not recognize the altered protein structure and treats it as a foreign invader. This may explain why pets allergic to a particular meat-based dry food oftentimes have no problem eating that same meat in whole, raw form.
- Possibility of high levels of Aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are are molds that grow on grains and are carcinogens. Dr Max Hawkins explains, “The pet food industry is no stranger to recalled products due to mycotoxins. The earliest documented aflatoxin outbreak dates back to 1974 when hundreds of stray dogs in India died due to the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated corn (Krishnamachari et al, 1975). In December 2005, 76 dogs were killed from aflatoxin-contaminated pet food in the US, causing a large recall.”
- Not knowing what you are feeding. These are only a few cases:
- 2006 to 2008. At least 79 people contracted Salmonella from dog food. Investigators found salmonella contamination in the flavoring room of the manufacturing plant, where dry food was sprayed with flavor enhancers before being packaged. The company instituted a voluntary recall of more than 23,000 tons of pet food in 2007. When the outbreak continued in 2008, Mars Petcare US recalled all of its products and eventually shuttered its plant.
- 2007 – Poor quality melamine containing cyanuric acid was fraudulently added to pet food ingredients by Chinese distributors and produced morbidity and death in dogs and cats in different areas of the world. This type of fraud had likely been ongoing for several years, but was first documented in 2007.
- 2017 – Phenobarbital (used for euthanasia) in Evangers dog food killing at least one dog
- February 14, 2018 – J.M. Smucker Company recall due to low levels of pentobarbital (can be used for euthanasia or as a medication)
Well that is some of the downsides to feeding kibble. But how can you make it better, maybe even for free.
- We to start simply add up to 25% real, whole foods in place of your kibble. I know you probably heard not to feed your dog human food. A good chance you heard that from your own veterinarian. But ask your vet (politely of course) if she has ever read the ingredient list on a bag of dog food. Every ingredient listed is human food, just not human quality food.
- Add items like:
- Pumpkin (great for diarrhea or constipation)
- Coconut oil
- Leftover meat from diner (no cooked bones)
- Leftover veggies (no spices)
- Whole sardines
- Add items like: