Imagine a majestic Grey wolf, stalking prey through the brush of a woods environment. Think about their natural diet and nutritional requirements. While wolves will scavenge and consume plant matter when they must, diets are mostly carnivorous and animal-based.
Those natural diets don’t look anything like the dog kibble ingredients you see below!
The Pros and Cons of Dog Kibble
Approximately 25-30% of the general canine population is obese, with 40-45% of dogs aged 5-11 years old weighing in higher than normal (Williams, Krista. DVM).
The vast majority of companion dogs are fed dog kibble. Many are either over-fed, fed with a lower quality brand, or never have the opportunity to reach their ideal exercise requirements (all too often all 3).
You Get What You Pay For
When it comes to manufactured dog foods, you literally have hundreds (potentially thousands) of options! If you want top-quality dry dog food, like Orijen for example, you’ll certainly pay a premium price for it. Most Americans settle for something much cheaper, whether it be the price tag or deceptive advertising that influences them. One of the Most Popular Dry Dog Kibbles in America
Most dog owners who choose the kibble route are going to go with something like the example you see here, which might as well be closer to a bag of corn than the natural diet they were biologically meant to consume. While they may be able to meet their protein requirements, there is way too much plant matter here.
Popular Dog Food, Top 10 Ingredients: Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, beef Fat naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken, egg and chicken flavor, whole grain wheat, animal digest
Do Your Research
There are more poor-quality kibbles out there than great ones, and you can never rely on advertising or marketing gimmicks to inform you what is best. In fact, it’s best to ignore any form of televised advertising altogether and do your own research! Know what’s best for your dog’s nutritional needs.
The Pros and Cons of Raw Dog Food
Think of raw bones, raw meat, organic compounds, and natural foods in general. These don’t contain preservatives, GMO’s and other ‘man-altered substances. In fact, the ‘raw dog food’ trend is exploding among pet owners!
Sure, wild dogs or wolves will consume raw, freshly killed animal products. This will certainly help you come close to a natural diet. Raw dog food diets aren’t without risks though and aren’t necessarily better in every single case.
This originally stood for ‘Bones and Raw Food’, now ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’, and the basis for the diet follows the assumption it must be ideal since wolves have consumed raw food for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s also believed many man-made additives in kibble can be detrimental, not included in the BARF diet.
Should You Cook Your Meat?
It really is important to cook any meat you feed your dog. It may violate the principles held within the BARF diet, but not cooking meat invites a possibility of contamination with numerous bacteria, viruses, and parasites. There is no reason any domestic pet should have to face the same risks a wild animal would, and there really is not that much lost in the way of nutritional quality.
There is nothing wrong with a little bit of diversity! Everything you offer doesn’t have to be ‘raw’ to be healthy.
You Choose the Ingredients
You can only choose what ingredients go into manufactured dog kibble as far as deciding what brand to offer, and while you may do your research, most dog owners fall for the brightly colored packaging and deceptive advertising.
By avoiding kibble, you can prepare each meal at home with the knowledge your dog is eating exactly what you want! You know exactly what animal that meat came from, in contrast to the mystery ‘meat and bone meal’ above. Your dog’s diet will be mostly animal proteins, and not starchy carbohydrates or cheaply grown corn. An ethical dog owner would still do their own research and know exactly what their dog needs, but they will have much better control over their pet’s nutritional health.
In Conclusion: What a Dog Needs
Dogs, and the wolves that came before them, are what you could call opportunistic carnivores. They would normally thrive on a diet rich in animal meat, but don’t necessarily need meat to survive. Their bodies were designed to utilize the ‘essential amino acids’ found most in animal proteins, which is one reason why animal meat is so important.
Watch Out for Filler!
In order to cut manufacturing costs and create a cheap product while still offering the dog nutrients essential for survival, several of the world’s largest dog kibble manufacturers will use what’s generally referred to as ‘filler ingredients’ (i.e. corn, wheat) to make their foods seem like more than what they are. The ‘popular dog food’ listed above is a prime example!
Grain-free diets have been linked to cases of Cardiomyopathy. ‘All or none’ situations aren’t always as good as they seem.
Control what your Dog Eats
Your ability to control what your dog eats is probably the largest benefit behind raw dog food diets! On the other hand, you’ll have to become familiar with the range of ingredients your dog needs to be nutritionally fulfilled, which can take independent research. Feeding raw dog food diets is never as simple as ‘just giving raw meats every day’.