Dogs often act like they can (and will) eat anything they can get their paws on. But the truth is, they still have bodies that need the right fuel to function well on a daily basis.
If you’re feeding your dog kibble every day, it may be time to consider what it’s doing to your four-legged friend — and what alternatives you can use to improve their health.
Kibble is the dry dog food that pet owners iconically feed to their dogs. Feeding my Dog Breed.com explains that the bright, non-food-shaped food is typically made from a combination of things like meats, veggies, grains, binders, and oils.
Dog food companies pulverize these ingredients and combine them into a formulated mixture, which they pump out into the shapes that we’re used to seeing. They bake these until they’re dry, at which point the manufacturers can package them up and send them to the store.
The biggest reason kibble gets a bad rap is that it’s often unhealthy. The specific degree of health varies from one formula to the next. Nevertheless, as a rule, generic, cheap kibble tends to contain a lot of unwanted ingredients. It’s also baked at high temperatures, which can destroy the food’s nutritional value for your dog.
Another issue is that kibble may come covered in salt. But that doesn’t mean every pup is going to want a mouthful. To put it another way, dogs can call bull on the quality of their kibble, too.
Whether you have a picky, health-conscious four-legged eater or you’re simply a concerned pet owner that doesn’t want to serve your dog low-quality food every day, it may be time to look for some alternatives to the traditional kibble option.
If you’re looking for a way to ditch your kibble, here are a few ideal options to replace it.
Wet food is a great alternative to dog food if you’re dealing with a picky eater. Your dog may be turning its nose up to a pre-cooked, dry-as-a-bone bowl of kibble because it’s too hard or unpleasant.
PetMD points out that wet dog food uses many of the same ingredients as dry dog food (i.e., make sure you read the label to ensure that the manufacturer isn’t cutting corners, nutrition-wise). Ground meat and protein sources combine with a vitamin, mineral, and grain-rich gravy, all of which come in a canned package.
This option maintains a higher moisture content than kibble and makes it more palatable and easier to chew. It can also help dogs feel full for longer between meals.
Technically, “dry” dog food doesn’t always mean kibble. The American Kennel Club points out that if you like the convenience of dry food, you can try fresh food alternatives. These can be freeze-dried, dehydrated, or gentle cooked to preserve their nutritional contents.
LoveToKnow Pets adds to the important distinction between cooked and raw food by explaining that either one is a viable option with its own pros and cons. Some dog owners prefer to prepare food right in their homes. They use raw fruits, veggies, meats, and bones to create food “in-house.” Others cook the food at low temperatures to avoid bacterial contamination. However, in doing so, they may reduce its nutritional value.
For those who want high-quality, highly-nutritious fresh food without the hassle of cooking themselves, companies like Nom Nom employ a team of pet health experts, including two Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists, to formulate and create gently-cooked, personalized meals based on each dog’s unique needs. Meats and veggies are gently cooked separately, then mixed in batches to seal in vital nutrients and maximize digestibility. Pre-portioned pouches are then sealed in air-tight pouches that remain chilled while en route to homes with hungry pups.
Talking with Kitchn, Senior Veterinarian Carly Fox points out that you don’t have to rely solely on dry or wet dog food. Both have their benefits, and combining the two options can allow a dog to access all of the health benefits at once.
Fox reiterates the above-mentioned message that, while a combination is fine, you still want to consider what is in each recipe and formula. She suggests that it’s wise to “pick diets that are research backed, have strict quality control, and employ veterinary nutritionists who make sure that the food is complete and balanced for your pet.”
Dogs are humanity’s best friend, and they deserve the same kind of love and attention that humans put into their own meals. Kibble consistently fails to meet those standards, which is why many pet owners are turning to alternatives like wet, dry, and fresh foods.
While it does take a little more investment, there are many healthier options on the market. Wet and dry food have their individual benefits. Combinations of the two are also useful.
The important thing is that dog owners wake up to the realization that feeding their dogs cheap kibble is akin to going to McDonald’s every day. If you won’t feed your body fast food on a regular basis, don’t do it to your dog, either. Find a kibble alternative that works for your pup’s needs and preferences. That way, they can settle into a happy life full of health and energy for years to come.