What is in Your Dog’s Kibble?
While humans have always sought to eat foods, and pursue lifestyles that will allow them to optimise their health, the phenomenon of dieting has only become pronounced since the mid-1960s. Humans have followed a vast array of different diets, all of which tend to be focused on the ingredients foodstuffs contain, and how they impact health and wellbeing. These have ranged from abstaining from all carbohydrates, to exclusively consuming red meat and greens. The fad diet industry is now huge, with celebrity chefs and trainers regularly releasing books and products aimed at helping their followers eat more healthily. At the same time, pet owners have increasingly started attributing human-like qualities to their animals, especially dogs. This has resulted in an ever-growing range of novelty products catering for increased perception of humanity in animals ranging from clothing to food products.
Kibble is a low-quality food source for dogs
Despite widespread consumer interest in providing what is best for their dogs, the dog food industry is mostly surprisingly unhealthy, and has potential to cause far more damage than good. Weakly regulated and often used to maximise profit, many mainstream dog foods seem to have little to no genuine concern for dog welfare. The most common form of commercially available dog food is kibble, which resembles small biscuits. Kibble is an intensively processed, low quality food source for dogs, and this stems from both its composition and ingredients.
A cheap, ‘post-war’ way to feed dogs
Kibble became mainstream around the time of the Second World War when pet owners were seeking a cheap feed for their dogs during rationing and food shortages. Prior to this, dogs would have been fed a mixture of raw meat, butcher’s trimmings, and cooked food scraps. During the 1800s, a common phrase was “as fit as a butcher’s dog” to emphasise the desirability of feeding a dog a predominantly meat-based diet.
Full of colours, flavours and preservatives
Commonly found brands of kibble emphasise how healthy they are, and that it contains natural ingredients. A sample ingredient list is as follows:
“Cereals (Wholegrains 55%*), Meat and Animal Derivatives (15%**), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Oils and Fats, Vegetable Protein Extracts, Glycerol, Vegetables*** (0.3% Dried Pea and 0.3% Dried Carrot), Minerals, Propylene Glycol, * Including min. 4% Wheat and 4% Maize, ** Equivalent to 30% Rehydrated Meat and Animal Derivatives, with min. 14% Beef, *** Equivalent to 4% Rehydrated Vegetables”.
Its packaging often also stresses how it has “No added artificial colours, flavours & preservatives”.
Dogs digestive tracts are best suited to high-protein, meat based diets
When it comes to feeding kibble, it is important to consider the anatomy and digestive system of a dog. Their digestive tracts have not significantly evolved from when they were undomesticated wolves, and are best suited to high-protein meat-based diets, which biologically appropriate raw feeds seek to replicate. The above ingredient list would fail to achieve this. In fact, its packaging makes no effort to conceal this fact, stating that – at very best – it offers “Equivalent to 30% Rehydrated Meat and Animal Derivatives, with min. 14% Beef”. In other words, only approximately 14% of this product would consist of actual lean muscle, which is the most important dietary component for dogs. Even then, it will have been chemically adulterated to a point where much of its nutritional value will have been totally diminished.
Kibble is not only unhealthy, it can be dangerous
Other ingredients present in this feed are at best unhealthy for dogs, and at worst downright dangerous. This feed’s primary component (standing at 55%) is “Cereals”, so would be heavily refined and processed carbohydrates. Dogs have not evolved to gainfully digest carbohydrates, and carbohydrate heavy diets often cause a wide range of medical problems. These range from tooth decay and gum disease (most pet dogs experience this by their second birthday), obesity, and cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle that is characterised by an enlarged heart that does not function properly) leading to death.
Kibble can cause potential hazards to dogs
As kibble is so dry, this causes a range of other potential hazards to its canine consumers. One of these is that owners tend not to offer it along with enough water, leading to chronic dehydration and kidney malfunctioning. In certain breeds (especially Dalmatians), kibble can lead to painful ailments such as kidney and bladder stones due to internal deposits and build-ups of minerals.
Components found in antifreeze
Kibble manufacturers frequently and unsuccessfully attempt to resolve this by including propylene glycol in their feeds. This chemical preserves moisture, but is also a key component in antifreeze. While widely recognised as being safe in trace amounts, it has still been banned from cat feeds by the American FDA. Unlike humans, dogs have little to no variety in their diets, with most owners offering them the same feed for years without switching them. Accordingly, allowing dogs to become exposed to build-ups of propylene glycerol is far easier than one may think. As it has been linked to common blood disorders, this alone should be a good enough reason for dog owners to boycott kibble and look for a more species appropriate alternative.
Other potential hazards of kibble to consider
Kibble has also resulted in unsuspecting dog owners introducing a number of dangerous toxins into their animals’ diets including aflatoxins, heterocyclic amines, and acrylamides. Aflatoxins are a type of carcinogen which is a by-product from fungi that commonly grow on corn, wheat, and rice, all of which are used as cheap “fillers” by kibble manufacturers. As kibble is rarely stored in a way which fully prevents its exposure to moisture, dangerous fungi commonly grow on it in home environments, with potentially lethal results. Heterocyclic amines are caused by kibble’s cooking process, and is also a dangerous carcinogenic along with acrylamides.
Switch to a biologically appropriate raw food diet
The single best way to avoid exposing your dogs to the often hidden and almost always unhealthy component ingredients of kibble is by feeding them a biologically appropriate raw food diet. While these diets’ primary benefits lie in how they replicate what a dog or wolf’s natural food intake would be, it balances different components according to their respective benefits, and is completely free of artificial chemical additives. Primarily composing of lean muscle meat with the addition of ground bone, fur, skin, organs, and vegetables, a raw diet offers maximum health benefit, with none of the issues commonly associated with kibble. It also allows dogs to perform natural behaviours, especially when snacks such as whole bones and carcasses are introduced to their diet.
Healthier and more natural than kibble
Raw food products are healthier and more natural for dogs than kibble. With more strongly regulated and accurately recorded ingredients, they are free of unhealthy additives, and do not contain any unpleasant hidden surprises. If you are serious about your dog’s welfare, then switching from kibble to raw dog food is an easy and highly necessary first step to take. What are you waiting for?
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