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It’s widely accepted now that kibble dog food is one of the worst things you can feed to your dog. And while pet owners are still divided on whether raw dog food is the best among dog foods, those who are comfortable with their pets eating raw food will tell you that it beats kibble by a country mile.
For many, the raw dog food vs kibble debate is an open and shut case. Most of us already know that raw feeding is a healthier diet, but kibble offers a whole lot more convenience to dog owners. Read along to come up with your own decision.
The Raw Dog Food vs Kibble Debate
To set the record straight, let’s pit raw feeding against the long-standing tradition of kibble feeding and judge which is better based on a few key factors.
It’s no secret that kibble is the absolute cheapest type of dry dog food out there. You can feed your dog for as low as $0.50 a day, compared to raw dog food which is $3 per day at the lowest.
And if you intend to make a raw diet truly pay off, you wouldn’t want to cheap out on raw food for a number of reasons, most importantly to ensure nutritional value and safety. A safer price range for a raw dog food diet would probably be around $7 to $10 per day for the average-sized dog.
Point: Raw dog food
Modern commercially available raw food or dog food delivery services is perhaps as close as you can get to dogs’ ancestral diets. Since this is what dogs have been eating since time immemorial, it stands to reason that they can only benefit from a raw dog food diet. But while anecdotes abound as to the truth of that, many a veterinary nutritionist does warn that rushing into a raw diet without care could lead to dietary imbalance. It’s also conventional wisdom that raw food is more likely to host harmful pathogens than kibble. If you are in doubt about this feeding raw food that’s free of pathogens, consider fresh dog food instead.
Still, raw diets are far and away above standard kibble when it comes to providing for your dog’s nutritional needs. A study published by the Journal of Small Animal Practice found that most claims as to the adverse effects of raw food diets tend to be case reports instead of conclusive evidence . Although they do dispel the claims that raw food diets are highly effective in combating endocrine, neoplastic, and other types of disorders.
Meanwhile, kibble is associated with a scarily extensive list of disadvantages, ranging from obesity and nutritional deficiencies to things as severe as cancer, diabetes, kidney stones, and leaky gut syndrome. Whereas raw food is reported to make dogs’ coats shinier, give them healthier skin, strengthen their teeth and bones, and just boost their health overall. And even if a kibble product does not induce these effects, they’re still not very nutritious to begin with because of the lack of ingredient quality and the fact that most nutrients are lost during their high-heat processing.
Point: Raw dog food
All of the starches in kibble serve to raise the pH of your dog’s stomach, making it less acidic and thus making them more prone to gastric upset. While a raw food diet can also cause digestive issues, these tend to clear up a few weeks into the raw diet.
There’s also the matter of kibble being dehydrated food, making it harder to digest compared to raw meat with its higher water content.
As far as calories per square foot of storage space goes, kibble is the clear winner because of how energy-dense it can be. Meat is also energy-dense, but not as much as processed pet food pellets. Kibble also doesn’t require refrigeration, unlike the majority of raw dog food products.
When it comes to ease of serving, kibble wins out over raw because of how simple it is to just pour into the doggy bowl. Raw foods require you to at least thaw them out before serving, unless you’re going with freeze-dried foods which are more expensive.
If you want to be absolutely sure that the raw meat that your dog is going to eat is free of pathogens, you’ll also have to take the time to lightly sear it. This isn’t required as most brands in the raw pet food industry take stringent steps to ensure that their products aren’t contaminated, but some pet parents do it anyway just for good measure.
Kibble: 3 out of 5 points
Raw: 2 out of 5 points
Although kibble earns more points in this comparison, raw food wins out where it truly matters, which is nutrition and digestion.
You may be wondering why kibble is suddenly considered to be so bad when it’s been a staple dog food for so long. While it’s true that dogs can survive on kibble, they can’t really become as healthy as they could be with it alone.
Dogs are a lot more adaptable when it comes to the food they consume, since they are also scavengers as well as hunters. Their digestive systems can take much more abuse compared to other animals, and hence they were able to subsist on most types of human food we could afford to give them.
But a dog won’t thrive on a diet that’s not evolutionarily optimal for them. Dogs started out eating a diet of muscle meat, organ meat, fat, bones and some vegetation. This is the diet nature gave them, and so any diversion from this is going to deteriorate their health in the long-term. To ensure complete and balanced nutrition for your dog, you’ll have to move away from the common dry dog foods you see on store shelves and explore more wholesome alternatives, which include raw food and fresh food for dogs.
But what about Fresh or Premium Kibble?
While most of the more affordable commercial pet food products often have flaws that make them suboptimal for your dog’s diet, they’re by no means impossible to iron out. That’s exactly what “fresh dry” dog food products such as Spot and Tango and premium kibble like the kind sold by Sundays Dog Food are taking off. These let you enjoy the convenience and easy storage of kibble with the nutrition quality of fresh food or raw food. They also tend to be much more affordable, making them a great option for those who don’t quite have the budget to be feeding raw food to their dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better raw or kibble for dogs?
Unless you can get your hands on some real high-quality kibble, raw food is going to be better for your dog’s health. Just make sure to do your due diligence with research and vet consultations to ensure that your dog’s raw diet is balanced.
Is raw food really better for dogs?
There are quite a few studies that point to raw food providing significant health benefits to dogs, but it does have its detractors because of things such as the coevolution of dogs’ diets with ours and the fact that they’re not hypercarnivorous.
Why is raw better than kibble?
Mostly because raw dog food tends to have a lot more care put in its ingredient makeup, and the fact that no nutrients are lost during processing because it undergoes the least amount of processing possible.
Can a dog eat both raw food and kibble?
Yes. In fact a lot of raw dog food companies advise mixing kibble with raw food in order to help a dog that’s lived on kibble for all of its life get used to the taste and feel of raw.