We are often told that raw feeding with raw dog food is a “fad” diet, like it’s something new. When, in fact, the first dry extruded dog food was produced by Purina in 1956 – so not that long ago at all. Let’s take a closer look at dry extruded food.
Firstly how is it made? Dry food (kibble) Is made by the extrusion process, the ingredients go through four extremely high heat processes so you can imagine what that does to the nutrients! You are left with something that is dead “food”: low in nutrients and void of all enzymes and probiotics. The “food” – if you can call it that – is then usually sprayed with a layer of fat and flavour enhancers to make it palatable to dogs, then sprayed with a pre-mix of synthetic vitamins and minerals. This is an artificial process to replace all the nutrients lost in processing. The quality of ingredients will vary from brand to brand but regardless of the quality of the ingredients all dry food is extremely highly processed due to it being extruded.
Common ingredients in dry dog food (and an explanation of what they are):
Meat meal is used in dry food as it’s high in protein, it is high-temperature rendered down carcasses and slaughter house waste, it is a very low quality source of protein, but it’s cheap and easy to transport around the world. It’s also easy to contaminate, as the melamine poisoning scandal in the USA in 2007 grimly demonstrated.
MEAT AND ANIMAL DERIVATIVES
This term is used by manufacturers so they do not need to specify what animal or body parts are used, this is a real issue if you have a dog with food intolerances as you have no idea what meat is in the food. Meat and animal derivatives tends to be low quality leftover slaughter house waste.
This again is a term used by pet food manufacturers so they do not have to specify what is in the food. Cereals could be anything from rice to wheat to maize or barley? Who knows? We believe none of these ingredients should be in any pet food or treats, they have no place in a canine diet. They are totally unregulated by FEDIAF, the body which represents pet food manufacturers in Europe. Unbelievably, there is no upper limit to how much cereal a producer can put into pet foods.
DERIVATIVES OF A VEGETABLE ORIGIN
Yet again, a term used by manufacturers, so they do not have to specify what they are putting into the pet food. ‘Derivatives of a vegetable origin’ can be left over from human consumption such as, vegetable peelings, leaves, roots, chopped off tops! Very little, if any, wholesome veggies.
Legumes are, for example, peas, soy, lentils, and beans. It’s important to avoid feeding legumes to our dogs as they contain lectins. Lectins can cause leaky gut, which will can lead to food intolerances and environmental allergies. It’s also worth noting that soy is a well-recognised hormone disrupter.
Rice, whether it is brown or white, is added as a cheap filler which helps bind the food. Rice is not only high in starch, it can also be high in arsenic! So, if you’re feeding a food that contains rice twice a day, you could be feeding arsenic twice a day! Processed food manufacturers deny the use of the term ‘filler’, claiming, rightly, that these foodstuffs do contribute to the nutritional make-up of the food. This is technically correct but does not justify feeding carnivores with high levels of starchy material to reduce production costs.
Wheat is a grain that that contain the allergen wheat gluten. It’s added as a cheap filler and although this is a high carbohydrate food, wheat also contains some protein. Soy, peas and maize also contain protein. These foods will also be used to bump-up the protein levels, but plant-based proteins are more difficult for our dogs to process which can cause stress on their bodies when fed long term.
Maize or ‘corn’, again, is added as a cheap filler, it’s high carbohydrate and difficult to digest.
ANTIOXIDANTS AND PRESERVATIVES
Unfortunately, the antioxidants and preservatives in pet food tend to be synthetic.
Other odd things you’ll find in a dry dog food.
ADVANCED GLYCATION END PRODUCTS
Food that contains protein and sugar, when heated to high temperatures, cause carcinogenic glycation end products to be formed. AGE’s have been linked to increased oxidised stress, inflammation, premature ageing and cancer.
The other big worry is the amount of glyphosate found in kibble. This is a chemical herbicide (weed killer) used on crops such as wheat, corn, soy and potatoes. Glysophate is also linked to cancer, as well as many other health issues. Glyphosate also damages the gut microbiome We know that around 80% of our dog’s immune system lies in the gut so this is not good news.
Mycotoxins are poisonous chemical compounds produced by mould. They are most commonly found in grain based dry food. Mycotoxins, if present, pose a very serious health risk to your dog. They can cause anything from vomiting to seizures. Mycotoxins are reduced by keeping dry dog food safely away from any moisture. However due to the difficulty of maintaining perfect storage conditions, over time mycotoxins cannot be entirely prevented – all food goes mouldy.
Another huge problem with dry food is most contain a huge amount of carbohydrates! As we know our dogs are facultative carnivores, which means they need a meat-based diet to thrive and have optimum health. Sadly, kibbled dry food manufacturers get away with filling their products with poor, non species-appropriate ingredients like grains, cereals and legumes. When starchy foods like this are eaten and metabolised by our dogs they turn to sugars.
We think eating a high carbohydrate diet is very bad news for our carnivorous canines in many ways. High carbohydrate diets contribute to allergies, sensitivities, intolerances, obesity, behaviour issues and diabetes to name but a few! Feeding a small amount of carbohydrates to our canine companions is absolutely fine but this should come from plant matter like veggies, berries and herbs, not cereals.
We recently worked out the protein and carbohydrate content in some popular fed dry foods. The results are extremely shocking. In most cases there’s more carbohydrate in the food than protein! Most of these dry foods are almost half full of carbohydrates. This is not what a dog’s diet should consist of. Our dogs are facultative carnivores. They need a fresh meat based diet, not a dry carbohydrate based diet.
Remember carbohydrates break down to sugar, especially if refined at high temperature.
If you want to work out the amount of carbohydrates in your dog’s dry food and see for yourself, here’s a quick calculation:
Add the percentages of these together:
Moisture – use 8% if not stated.
Then, subtract the amount from 100 this will leave you the percent of carbohydrates in the food. Carbs are sometimes noted as ‘Nitrogen-free Extract’, or NFE. Funny that the manufacturers don’t want to just say ‘carbohydrate’.
In summary, if you want the best health, wellbeing and longevity for your dog, we think you should feed them a fresh species-appropriate diet – with raw dog food or lightly cooked dog food. It’s all about providing real, actual, fresh, food. Explore our full grain free dog food range.