Kibble vs. Raw Food: What should you feed your dog?

When it comes to pet care, there is little more important than the nutrition our dogs receive. The food a dog consumes is pivotal to their overall health and wellbeing, but with so many choices available for your dog’s diet, how do you know which option is best?

Additionally, just as with humans, there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to choosing the type of food to give to your dog. There may be lifestyle factors – such as cost or time constraints – which can influence your decision.

In recent years, the debate has raged between the traditional kibble diet and the increasingly popular raw diet. In this article, we’re going to cover the list of factors you should take into consideration when thinking about your dog’s diet, and then look at the benefits and downsides of kibble and raw diets. Remember that if you have any concerns or questions about your dog’s nutrition, you should consult your veterinarian.

Factors to consider for feeding your dog

As you consider which diet might be best for your four-legged friend, there are several factors to take into account. Whilst you undoubtedly have to think about your dog’s preferences, you also need to consider your own lifestyle and circumstances – after all, your dog can’t feed itself and will rely on you to prepare its food.

Here is a list of things to think about:

  • Age – There is a reason why manufacturers of pet food provide different options for dogs at all stages of life – your dog’s nutritional requirements and intake will change as they develop.

  • Size – It stands to reason that the bigger your dog, the more food they will require.

  • Allergies – Some dogs are sensitive to particular types of food, and it makes sense to avoid anything that could trigger these.

  • Taste/Preference – As with humans, some dogs will develop a preference for a particular type of food.

  • Budget – The amount of money you have available will inevitably have an influence on the food you decide to feed your dog.

  • Time – How much free time do you have? If you lead a busy lifestyle, you may have no choice but to opt for convenience.

Kibble - pros and cons

Historically, dry food such as kibble has been the most popular way for owners to feed their dogs. Kibble is typically mass-manufactured by larger companies and is required to meet certain nutritional standards. The ingredients vary by brand, and with a long shelf-life, kibble can be purchased in large quantities.  

kibble with paw print in the middle

Benefits of kibble

  • Convenience – Kibble is typically very convenient for dog owners. Preparation is minimal and takes less than 30 seconds to transfer from the bag to the dog’s bowl.

  • Inexpensive – As it is produced in mass quantities, kibble can be purchased in larger bags and is cheaper than fresh or raw alternatives. 

  • Long-lasting – With no fresh ingredients, a bag of kibble can be stored for several months in the home.

  • Nutritional balance – Manufacturers are required to produce the dry food to be nutritionally balanced and in sanitary conditions.

Downsides of kibble

  • Highly processed – Kibble is made in vast quantities, which means it is treated at high temperatures which can reduce the overall nutritional value of the food.

  • Filler ingredients As part of the manufacturing process, lots of filler ingredients are included to bulk out the dry food, decreasing its overall quality.

  • Low quality meats – Kibble is often referred to as ‘junk food’ for dogs – meaning it is fast and convenient, but not necessarily the healthiest choice.

  • Preservatives – To improve the shelf life of kibble, preservatives are added during the manufacturing process to keep the food edible for longer.

Raw food

The raw diet movement has increased in popularity in recent years, with many owners reporting increased health benefits for their pup. Dogs on a raw food diet are fed meat which has undergone minimal or no processing, mirroring the natural benefits of the food they would consume in the wild.

raw dog food in a bowl

Benefits of raw food

  • No processing – With no cooking or processing involved, a raw diet is free from a large-scale manufacturing process and retains the majority of its nutritional value.

  • Nutrition absorption – The nutrients in a raw diet are highly bioavailable and seamlessly integrated into a dog’s body. Raw food is also filled with natural enzymes which can help a dog’s overall health.

  • Same diet as dogs consumed historically – Going back over centuries (and long before the days of commercialised dog food), a raw diet is roughly the same as what a dog would consume out in nature.

  • Health benefits – Many owners who feed their dogs a raw diet report fewer allergies and reactions, healthier skin/fur, and better teeth.

Downsides of raw food

  • Expensive – Compared with other options, feeding a raw diet is likely to be the least cost-efficient as you are purchasing higher-quality food in smaller quantities.  

  • Time-consuming – Consider the time you will need to not only prepare the food, but also acquire it from your supplier (whether that is a butcher, a grocery store or a family farm). You’ll also need to make sure bowls are thoroughly washed between meals to reduce the spread of bacteria.

  • Need storage space – You may need to invest in a chest freezer or have sufficient space in the refrigerator to keep the meat fresh and consumable.

  • Owner has to ensure nutritional balance – With a raw diet, owners must ensure that food is balanced and all necessary vitamins and minerals are present in the correct ratios.

In conclusion

At K9 Knose-it, our dogs and working line puppies are fed a predominantly raw diet. We have found that the health outcomes and increased nutrition absorption is well worth the time investment – our pups are energetic, their coats are shiny and their teeth are clean.

However, what you choose to feed your dog is a personal choice, based on a number of factors including your life circumstances and what works best for your dog. If you are in doubt about the best diet for your dog, you should consult with your veterinarian before switching your dog’s food.

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