With so many options for feeding your dog, it can get pretty overwhelming. As a Dog Eared reader, we know you’re the kind of pet parent who wants the best for your pup. We break down the pros and cons of feeding dry food, and what you need to know to choose the right one for your dog!
Why is kibble considered "bad"?
Kibble gets a bad rap sometimes. A lot of this is because of marketing tactics. You might see photos of fresh cut fruit and vegetables as well as big chunks of real meat on the packaging for fresh or wet food. These photos are meant to appeal to you, as the pet owner, not so much your pup. In addition, the messages these brands often send is that kibble is “overcooked” and lacks nutrients or that the ingredients used to make it are somehow subpar.
So, while in some cases there might be some truth to the sub par ingredients or nutritionally empty fillers like corn or wheat, the important thing to remember is that like any other food product, not all kibble is created equally.
Just like food for human consumption has a lot of rules for how food is handled, prepared and labeled, so does pet food. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides guidelines for what claims can be made on dog food packaging and what criteria needs to be met to make those claims. It is against both federal and state law to misbrand pet food. As you do your research if you feel as though you are seeing misbranding, you can contact your state feed control officials or the FDA.
Can dogs eat a diet of only dry food?
There are many suitable diets depending on your dog’s needs - from kibble to custom prepared. Kibble has been around since the 1950’s. At that time as more people became middle class and started to bring home dogs and cats as pets and companion animals the demand for processed dog food was becoming more popular.
In 1964, The Pet Food Institute, a group of pet food industry lobbyists, launched an ad campaign with the goal of convincing American consumers that commercially prepared dog food was the only option to feed their beloved pets. As you can imagine, the success of this campaign was a pivotal point for the popularity of kibble based diets.
While kibble had the majority of the market share for many years, over the last decade or so, as humans become more interested in health and wellness, the variety of dog diets has increased. Although wet food has been around for a long time, we now have additional options that promise better nutrition for our beloved pets. Other options for feeding our pups include fresh cooked food (like Ollie), and raw food diets that are either fresh, or can be frozen or freeze dried for convenience.
Whether it’s marketing claims or worth the hype largely depends on the brand of food you choose. That is why it is so important to educate yourself using credible sources. If you have specific questions about your dog’s diet the best person to talk to is your dog’s veterinarian.
Benefits of dry food
If you travel a lot or your pup is eating on the go, like at work or daycare, dry food can be easier to pack and store. You can throw it in a bag and serve anytime you like. No refrigeration, thawing or reconstituting necessary. Unlike cans of wet food, you don’t need a can opener or access to a refrigerator to store any additional product safely.
Complete and balanced nutrition
While this can be true of many diets for your dog, most kibble available on the market today is deemed complete and balanced nutrition by the AAFCO. This means it meets the nutritional standard set for dogs. The one thing you do want to pay attention to is that AAFCO also uses life stages when determining nutritional adequacy. This means puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs may have different nutritional needs and they should eat food approved for these life stages. Some food is approved for all life stages and can be appropriate for any dog at any time.
Well tolerated by most dogs
From food allergies to sensitive stomachs there is generally a kibble formulation that almost any dog can tolerate. Due to its crunch, kibble may be hard on senior dogs or dogs who are missing teeth but those issues can easily be remedied by feeding smaller kibbles or moistening kibble so it softens.
How do I pick the right kibble for my dog?
So, what’s the bottom line? Kibble can be a good choice and provide complete nutrition for your dog. That said, not all kibble is created equally so choosing theright kibble may require some research. As a pet owner, it is important to choose a brand that is transparent about the ingredients they use and how they are processed.You also want to make sure to choose a food that your dog enjoys and is excited to chow down on at mealtimes.
There are great resources for consumer education including AAFCO, Dog Food Advisor (an independent dog food review website) and from your dog’s veterinarian.
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.