Did you know that 96% of dogs are nutritionally deficient? Not to mention we have seen exponential growth in obesity, allergies and health related conditions in our pets over the last decade. Why you may ask, well the answer lies in the feeding routines of our pets and the products themselves.
Many pet parents opt for the cheapest option, or a kibble recommended by their vet. However, rarely do “pet owners verify the nutritional claims on the bag nor research what exactly they are giving their pets” (Cali Raw, 2019). While most people believe that kibble is truly healthy, the reality is that the most appetizing part of the product is typically the packaging itself. Most times, what is being marketed on the bag isn’t even representative of what is actually inside. It begs the question, is it safe for dogs to eat kibble? Is it good for cats?
The rise, popularity and acceptance of kibble as a primary food source has grown exponentially over the years; pet food is a billion dollar industry after all. From grain free dog foods, to wet food to raw there are hundreds of options on the market. For pet parents, who truly expect the most out of their furry friends' meals, kibble is the furthest thing from the best choice. If you are wondering why let me ask you two questions: what is kibble made of and how is dry pet food made?
The Problem With Kibble
The Manufacturing Process
Cat and dog kibble is made using the extrusion process, which is basically a fancy way of saying highly processed. Each batch undergoes 4 different levels of intense temperatures reaching upwards of 220 F. Biologically speaking, this heat kills off any good enzymes and probiotics, leaving you with a product that would be considered inedible by any standard.
Due to this process, the nutritional value of the food- if we can call it that- is decimated immensely and almost completely. This doesn't offer much confidence to down owners when it comes to deciding on the best kibble for dogs - if one even exists!
Kibble Contains Less Than Great Ingredients
In our case, rendering refers to the process of recycling animal byproducts in the use of pet food by cooking them down to isolate the animal fats and proteins into what is commonly known as meat meal. These “animal byproducts” are deceased carcasses and slaughterhouse waste. The nutritional value and protein content is very low, however, it is cost effective and easy to ship.
Preservatives and Additives
Unlike fresh, human grade pet food, dry kibble is processed and packaged in a way that enables the shelf life to extend far beyond a couple of weeks. This is due to the addition of preservatives and additives, which in many cases can be very toxic when consumed in high amounts. Xanthan Gum and carrageenan for example, are thickening agents which can cause bloating, diarrhea and a whole host of other digestive problems.
This is a term used by a lot of dry dog food brands to allow for less specification when it comes to the actual ingredients listed on a product. By definition, cereals can be any mixture of grains. Many of these processes are unregulated and thus there is no upper limit on the amount of “cereals” that may be added to a batch.
Fillers are another way in which pet food manufactures are able to “bulk up” their products. Ingredients such as rice, wheat, and corn are very cheap filler products that do little to increase the nutritional value in dry pet food, instead they are usually very high in starches and carbohydrates, which is considered to be a lesser important component in a pets diet, especially in dogs.
Synthetic Vitamins and Minerals
Due to the highly processed nature of dry pet food, many brands will spray on or add in synthetic vitamins and minerals to replace the naturally occurring ones that were lost in the manufacturing process. This means that kibble is often void of many essential elements, such as omega fatty acids, that go a long way in preserving the health of our pets. This goes to show that kibble itself is not nutritionally balanced or complete for any life stages, on its own.
Marketing Tends to be More of A Priority
Imagine this, you sit down to eat at a fancy restaurant, order your favourite meal from the menu only to be completely off put when the final dish is placed in front of you. Instead of the healthy steak dinner with sweet potatoes and green beans that you had ordered, you are served what appears to be a blended version. There is no distinguishing between the ingredients, a rather unappetizing smell and we don’t even have to get started on the taste.
This is a likely representative of the experience your furry friends are getting on a daily basis. A lacklustre version of the menu item that was being advertised, with a very small amount of high quality product. Midwestern pet food is far from the five-star rating it is portrayed to be.
In many cases, the label and packaging itself is not indicative of the ingredients that are actually inside the bag.
Why It Matters
Apart from the lack of human grade processing or ingredients, dry kibble brands have an extensive track record for less than safe manufacturing practices. Many instances of recalled pet food stemming from chemical contamination. So what pet food is recalled?
Over the years, many pet food brands that market themselves as healthier and higher quality dog food options, have faced instances where they have recalled pet food. For example, over a 10 year span, Blue Buffalo was recalled 10 times for salmonella contamination and chemical contamination by the same substance used in antifreeze. This a case where dog owners began to call into question the legitimacy of kibble.
Another major issue is the rising levels of health related conditions and obesity in pets, which is on the rise for the 7th year in a row. While it is impossible to say for certain if dry kibble is the primary suspect for EVERY circumstance, it does raise some red flags.
A recent study conducted showed that over 59% of cats and 54% of dogs are obese. Obesity brings on its own set of challenges and health risks and it makes the issue of proper nutrition even more important.
Related Reading: Counting Calories in Cat Food
What You Can Do
You may now be asking yourself, what can I feed dog instead of kibble? What are healthy pet food options for my cat? There are a handful of options besides processed dry food. For instance is there is a lot of raw versus kibble research that can serve as another source of information!
Related Reading: Raw Feeding and Dogs
Make Your Own Pet Food
Home cooked pet food is a great way to gradually start making the switch away from kibble and processed options. You will have peace of mind in knowing that every bite in your pets bowl came from real food and real ingredients. Commonly proteins that are used include: ground beef and ground turkey, with brown rice being a common carb that is added as well!
Make sure to search for recipes specific to felines and canines, as the nutritional requirements met in homemade dog food will be different than in homemade cat food recipes.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Dog Food
Switch to Fresh Food
Fresh feeding is a revolutionary alternative for both its nutritional value and lack of preservatives or additives. Choosing to make the switch to fresh pet food could be a major turning point in the means of providing your pets with the right diet to ensure a healthy and long life!
Kafka's Organic fresh pet meals specifically, are the best option for food that tastes as good as it sounds. Food that comes the same way it is advertised on the bag. Picky eater approved and safe for sensitive stomachs!
You can leave behind your worries about ingredients, sourcing or even the contamination often found in dry kibble. Fresh food is simply good food for pets!