There is such a vast amount of kibble types on the market and all have significantly different ingredients, but is any of it really that good for your dog? As a dog owner, I’ve thought about this many times myself and this article is just me sharing my findings and opinions with you.
What’s in Kibble Exactly?
The quick answer is…a lot. Kibble is regulated by law to contain a balance of everything needed in a dog’s diet, regardless of the means behind it. The American Kennel Club states that the required ingredients in dry dog kibble are protein sources, grains, cereals, and vitamins. It doesn’t say, however, if the specific amount is regulated by strict natures or if the contents themselves have to be of a certain quality.
How is Kibble Made?
This was the part of my research that really shocked me–the process of how kibble is made. It’s really easy to not think about, especially when we are so focused on the ingredients (if anything), but all kibble is processed the same way, no matter how fancy. The ingredients of the kibble are all combined and made into a dough that is then cooked with hot steam. The heated dough is then pushed through long tubes and cut with sharp knives to get kibble bits. These pieces are then dehydrated to get the dry kibble that we are used to pouring in our furry friend’s bowls. Sound disgusting yet? It gets more interesting. The manufacturers then spray the food with animal fat for taste. It’s almost like the salt and pepper of dog food!
I didn’t say any of this to make anyone feel bad for feeding their dog kibble–I feed mine it too! It was just really interesting to me that this is the process. For some reason, I thought the kibble would be made differently depending on the money that you spend, however, it appears that only the ingredients slightly change depending on what brand you buy.
So, What Should you Look for in a Kibble?
Analyze the Protein
Where does the protein appear on the list? Does it appear a few ingredients down, or is it the first ingredient in the list? You want the first ingredient in your dog’s food to be a source of protein because the ingredient list is organized by weight. You are paying for that “chicken and rice” and “lamb and vegetables” so make sure you’re getting it!
Next, what type of protein are you actually getting? Do the ingredients list “chicken” or “lamb” or are they super vague with terms such as “meat” or “meat meal”? They are purposely keeping it vague due to the unappetizing nature of what is actually included. This is a really important thing to consider so that you’re getting a real protein instead of something artificial or a small amount of protein mixed with filler.
Veggies! (and other whole foods)
How many ingredients on the list are something that you recognize? Any food that is whole and unprocessed such as peas and carrots, add an enriched quality of vitamins to your furry friend’s dinner. Dogs naturally get most of their nutrition from protein, but as you cook it (in this case, steam it)–the nutrients leave the meat which results in the need for additional sustainable foods. The more you know! (Check out our dog food toppers article to learn more about adding those essential nutrients)
Take a look at the first 5 ingredients
The first 5 ingredients on the label make up most of the kibble, so it is important that filler ingredients do not appear here. Low-quality dog food can lead to bad side effects and even shorter lifespans! If you do nothing else when picking out dog food, check the first 5 ingredients. It will give you a good gauge as to what your dog is actually eating.
The graphic below I’ve found SUPER useful. This isn’t an all-inclusive list by any means, but it should help when taking a quick glance at ingredients labels!
**Be sure to check out Whole Dog Journal for more in-depth help with food selection! I found a lot of helpful info through their website and would be great if you wanted to do some further research.
So is Kibble Really that Bad?
To be quite honest, I’m still not sure. I believe that it’s essential to monitor what food that you’re putting in your pup’s body, but with so many options, I think you could find a respectable kibble. The lack of regulations behind the meat products that our pets consume is a little disheartening to me, but in my opinion, the regulation for human consumption isn’t where it should be either. After my research, I’m still undecided, but I want to know what you think! Let’s start a conversation in the comments down below.