This question has been coming up a lot: should people feed their dogs kibble or raw food? We know that we are stepping into a very big puddle of opinions with this topic. Let us say up front that we are not endorsing or condemning either practice. We are simply here to talk about each method of feeding.
Kibble, as many of our readers know, covers a whole lot of territory. Kibble was invented back in the 1800’s and became standard for dogs and cats after World War II when convenience became a major staple of middle class life.
Kibble is processed dog food. Whatever the ingredients are: meat, corn, vegetables, and “fillers,” they are dried down and cooked into the kibble pellets that we are familiar with.
The key here is to look at the ingredients list on the dog food bag. Is there an identifiable meat listed as the first or second ingredient? Many dog foods use lots of corn as the main ingredient. There might also be “animal byproduct” or “animal meal” listed – this could be road kill or rejected parts of other animals from human food processing plants. You can also check out reviews at DogFoodAdvisor.com and they will go over the ingredients carefully.
The type of facility may also be important to you. Some brands are now processing their kibble in human-grade plants. These are factories that have met the standards that the FDA requires for all human food processed in the United States. Companies can also be up front about not just the ingredients, but they might also be transparent about where the animals were farmed. Some kibble can also claim to be organic. Do some research and learn what is out there. There are some high-quality kibbles available. They will not be the cheapest available, but they may give you some assurance that your dog is eating a healthy dinner.
Some people have chosen to feed their dog a raw only diet. A few have chosen this as a result of finding process food unappealing, and others believe that it is a dog’s “natural” diet.
Feeding raw food that you prepare at home is not nearly as convenient as feeding kibble, but it may offer some advantages. First, you know exactly what the ingredients are. Secondly, you are in charge of the portions and amount of meat to vegetables.
Aimee Jurenka of the website The Lazy Raw Feeder points out that with the right amount of hacks, feeding raw does not have to be a chore. Get your shopping done weekly and preparing food ahead of time can save a great deal of stress. She also points out that there are different methods of raw feeding – from the BARF method (Bones And Raw Food) to the Ancestral diet. These methods vary in their calculations of how much meat one uses compared to vegetables and organs. Ultimately it appears that this is something the dog mom (or concierge, as I’m fond of calling myself in reference to my own dogs) has to figure out.
For people who like what the raw food diet has to offer but do not have the time to prepare the food, there are boxed meal plans that are available for a fee. Much like the human food subscription boxes, these arrive at your door.
There is still a great deal of research to be done as to how these styles of feeding help our dogs. While longevity effectiveness may not be known, other things such as the health of a dog’s skin and coat, energy level, and general digestive tract health can be readily observed by the owner. You will know if your dog responds positively to one food over another food. In the end, you are the one who makes the decision.