With so many types of doggie diets, it can quickly get overwhelming when you are trying to decide what is best for your pup. While your veterinarian can provide great guidance, we looked at the raw diet vs. kibble to learn about the pros and cons of each - as well as any risks you should be aware of.
About the raw diet
The raw diet is exactly what it sounds like, feeding your pup raw food. This can include meat, fruit and vegetables, and eggs. The meat sources for raw diets are often a mix of muscle meats and organ meats like kidney, liver and hearts. Many owners who feed a raw diet also often add supplements to their dog’s food including things like turmeric, coconut oil, or fish oils. Raw food diets can also include some fermented dairy like yogurt or kefir. With the popularity of raw food, some companies make it easier to feed raw by offering food that is pre-mixed and either frozen or freeze-dried so busy owners don’t have to prepare raw food from scratch every day or week.
What to look for in raw food
Like other diets, not all raw food diets are created equally. You will want to research the types of protein in the raw diet you are considering and how they are sourced. Another thing that is very important when feeding raw is safe food handling. Remember to wash any cutting boards, knives, and dishes (including your pup’s) that have come in contact with raw meat and eggs.
While pups can’t get salmonella from raw eggs, humans can and do. Use a separate cutting board if you are cutting raw meat for your dog. If you have young children or anyone in your home who is immunocompromised, a raw diet may not be suitable for your pup as they can pass foodborne illnesses to children and those with weakened immune systems. Before feeding your dog a raw diet, consider the risks to everyone in your home.
About the dry (kibble) diet
Kibble is a mixture of meat, fruit and vegetables, and grains that is mixed, shaped, and cooked into bite-sized pieces for your pup to eat. It comes in shelf-stable bags and can stay fresh for a relatively long time as long as the bag or container has an airtight seal. Always check the expiration date on the package before feeding for safety.
What to look for in kibble
Kibble-based diets can be great for pups on the go. If you travel with your dog a lot a kibble diet is a great choice for convenience along. But what about nutrition? Kibble can absolutely provide your dog with adequate nutrition. Look for a kibble that meets the AAFCO requirements for a complete and balanced diet. This means the diet provides adequate nutrition for your pup.
Like with raw food, it is still important to consider the ingredients in kibble. They can vary in quality and marketing terms can be deceptive. Look for kibble with good sources of protein in the first few ingredients. Avoid kibbles that use corn, wheat, soy, beet pulp, and other cheap fillers. These ingredients may provide adequate energy for your pup but they lack vital nutrients to keep your dog healthy. As long as your dog isn’t allergic to grains (and most pups aren’t) some grain in their food is actually a good thing.
Is raw food better than kibble?
This is an area that has been debated many times over. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not believe so. In fact, the AVMA has issued a statement against feeding pets a raw diet.
They say: “The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans. Cooking or pasteurization through the application of heat until the protein reaches an internal temperature adequate to destroy pathogenic organisms has been the traditional method used to eliminate pathogens in animal-source protein, although the AVMA recognizes that newer technologies and other methods such as irradiation are constantly being developed and implemented.”
If you are going to feed a cooked diet of kibble, you don’t have to just feed kibble alone. You can add toppings to your dogs food that include yogurt, fresh fruit or vegetables, sardines, cooked animal protein like chicken, beef or fish and many other “human” foods to keep your dog healthy and their diet interesting.
Check with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet to ensure you aren’t overfeeding or causing nutritional imbalances.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.