Kibble vs. Fresh Pet Food: Which One Should You Feed Your Dog?
- by Rufus and Coco
Feeding dogs a less conventional pet diet these days has become more and more popular. The reason being is that commercial varieties, such as kibble, often contain shady ingredients that has the potential jeopardise a pup’s health.
In this article, we discuss the main differences between kibble and fresh food and looking at what the best option would be for most pet owners.
Is Fresh Food Better Than Kibble?
In theory, yes. Fresh food is more wholesome, and you have complete control over what ingredients you add to the recipe. If you consult a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist, you will be able to provide your dog with the best possible diet as per their own needs.
But fresh food also has its disadvantages, and they are mostly related to how easily it can become contaminated with germs or develop bacterial cultures when left at room temperature, even for a short amount of time.
Fresh food also calls for a bit more effort compared to kibble, in that you will have to take it out of the freezer and thaw it in the microwave before you give it to your pup. As such, most pet owners feed their dogs only once in the morning and once in the evening or give them a relatively large meal once a day.
The problem with this feeding method is that some dogs, mainly larger breeds, are predisposed to developing gastric dilatation (volvulus) if they eat too much food at the same time. And many dogs are heavily food-oriented, which is why they can gobble up their entire portion for the day in a matter of a few seconds.
By contrast, feeding your dog two or three main, albeit smaller, meals per day can prevent volvulus and also ensure that they are properly nourished all the time. But since you can’t guarantee that your dog gets lunch when you’re away from home, you can leave them some kibble for when they become hungry again.
The Pros and Cons of Giving Your Dog Kibble
Both commercial dry and wet food these days is less healthy than you might expect. Even so, it can be a very convenient option that many pet owners rely on, sometimes exclusively.
- Most kibble recipes are nutritionally balanced and complete, often enriched with vitamins and minerals
- Varieties are made for different life stages, breeds, health conditions, and more
- It lasts for a long time both in storage and once you’ve opened the bag
- It doesn’t get spoiled when sitting in the bowl for hours
- It comes in a wide range of flavours with varying costs that can fit the budget
- Low-quality protein from animal parts such as meat by-products
- It might contain added chemical flavour enhancers
- It can contain grain, which can trigger gastrointestinal distress episodes
- It has too many carbs, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes
- Some artificial dyes in dog kibble are carcinogenic (Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and 2)
With fresh food, you know what you are putting in your dog’s bowl.
However, there’s always the option of getting a high-quality, vet-recommended, and more importantly, natural kibble diet made specifically for your dog’s needs. Even though such types are more expensive, since you will be feeding your dog only one meal a day (when you’re not at home), you will be able to balance everything out with the homemade diet.
Before Making Your Dog’s Food at Home
While fresh food definitely has its benefits, before you decide to switch your dog to an entirely different diet or integrate new recipes into their old one, you should have a talk with your vet or a veterinary nutritionist.
Not all dogs are the same when it comes to their nutritional requirements. Some are puppies, so they need specific ingredients to help them grow into strong adults; others might be suffering from specific chronic diseases such as IBD or IBS, which will make it essential for them to have a different diet.
Dogs also differ when it comes to their metabolism. Some are made to hunt and run, so they will consume a lot of energy throughout the day if they have the chance. Others are more sedentary, so they will spend hours on end lounging on the couch. Keeping all of these factors in mind, your dog’s diet might be entirely different from your neighbour’s dog’s diet.
Some dogs might never do well with a homemade diet, no matter how much you might try to adjust them to it. Whether that happens because they have become used to eating kibble following years of doing so or they experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea after eating fresh food, keep your options open for your dog.
In the end, a combination of the two is what seems to be best for most dogs. Depending on your pet’s health, an entirely homemade diet might not be possible. Kibble is fairly well-tolerated by all dogs, but it does come with a share of disadvantages, too, which makes mixed feeding the solution for many pet owners.
Raw Diets for Dogs and Cats: A Review, with Particular Reference to Microbiological Hazards, R.H. Davies et al, 2019 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31025713/
Raw Food Diets in Companion Animals: A Critical Review, Daniel P. Schlesinger & Daniel J. Joffe, 2011 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3003575/
Bacteriological Evaluation of Commercial Canine and Feline Raw Diets, J. Scott Weese et al, 2005 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1140397/