For any living creature to thrive, it needs to consume the foods it has evolved to eat. This is called species-appropriate nutrition, and it’s becoming an essential topic of conversation among veterinarians and dog owners.
It’s worth talking about, as we’re living in a time where kibble, which has only been around for just over a century, has become the most popular way to feed our pets. As further research is conducted into the health implications of a dry dog food diet, it seems as though we’re only finding more and more reasons to avoid it.
Sure, dry dog food is about as easy and convenient as it gets. It’s also relatively affordable. But none of these factors matter more to dog owners than the health of their canine friends. This makes it essential to understand why dry dog food is worth avoiding. With this in mind, here are seven reasons to forgo the kibble and opt for a natural diet instead.
As numerous sources point out, including the alarming 2007 report by Earth Island Journal, dog food is permitted to contain just about any meat-related ingredient imaginable, regardless of how rancid or appalling they might be. This includes restaurant grease, euthanized pets, diseased farm animals, and materials from a range of other dubious sources.
This is justified by how the ingredients are refined, which is known as rendering. It involves hours of high-heat processing that is meant to eliminate any viruses or bacteria. Rendering has its place, as it essentially requires recycling ingredients that aren’t fit for human consumption. But that’s not to say they’re any more suitable as part of a dog’s diet.
One of the biggest problems with high-heat processing is that it does away with almost all of the nutrients contained in the ingredients. That’s not to mention the cancerous by-products that rendering has the possibility of producing, which includes heterocyclic amines and other carcinogens that may harm your dog’s long-term health.
To make up for the resulting nutritional deficiencies, flavor enhancers and synthetic nutrients are added to the food. As for whether they truly provide any nutrition or simply allow manufacturers to list more vitamins and minerals on their packaging is open to debate.
Dry dog food is loaded with grains and other high-starch carbs. This includes genetically modified corn or a substitute such as wheat, rice, or potato. Some foods are labeled as ‘grain-free’ and contain peas or legumes, which are just starchy carbs anyway.
These types of ingredients make up most of your average kibble. They are related to countless health problems as a result of the metabolically stressful insulin, glucose, and cortisol spikes they produce. High-starch carbs are also one of the main contributors to the current dog obesity epidemic, which never existed before processed foods became the norm.
Moreover, they’re a critical factor in producing pancreatitis in dogs due to the unnatural amount of stress that carbohydrates put onto the organ to digest the starches. Pancreatitis in dogs is explained in great detail on the Bella and Duke blog, a company that specializes in raw dog food products.
If you’re wondering what that is, raw dog food is characterized by natural ingredients based on what dogs were evolved to eat. Bella and Duke offer custom raw diet plans based on the individual needs of your dog and can ship it right to your door at no additional cost, making it a worthwhile alternative to consider.
Risk of bacteria
Kibble is prone to containing bacteria and harmful mycotoxins. The latter is a noxious chemical substance produced by certain fungal infections in crops, namely those that are used by pet food manufacturers. In one 2016 study of 387 corn samples used for dog food, it was found that 90% of them contained at least one mycotoxin.
Depending on the type and amount that is ingested, mycotoxicosis can lead to some of the following symptoms:
- Muscle tremors
- Increased heart rate
To make matters worse, mycotoxins aren’t even the only contaminants to worry about. For instance, you also have aflatoxins, which were responsible for many recalls and disease outbreaks in the past few decades. Similar to mycotoxins, they’re produced by fungal infections, and dogs are particularly sensitive to the effects.
Following are some of the most well-known symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning:
- Severe vomiting
- Reproductive issues
As if it couldn’t get any worse, dry pet food is also prone to containing storage mites. These tiny creatures start their life in grain silos before making their way into kibble and multiplying rapidly. Dogs are known to develop hypersensitivity to storage mites, which can result in numerous issues, including ear infections, hair loss, and skin problems.
Dry food is, well, dry. It’s almost entirely devoid of any moisture, which puts your dog in a perpetual state of dehydration. Imagine it as eating nothing more than salted crackers all day. Not only does that force the poor dog to spend uncomfortable amounts of time at the water bowl, but dehydration also leads to other serious problems.
This includes harmful symptoms such as loss of appetite, panting, and reduced energy levels. It can also lead to dryness in the eyes, gums, and nose. Also, dehydration takes a toll on your dog’s skin elasticity. Each of these symptoms on their own can contribute to other health problems, having a sort of domino effect that doesn’t lead anywhere good.
From the moment a bag of kibble is opened, the fats that are sprayed on and contained within the food begin to go rancid. In the long run, this can lead to several problems. Rancid fats destroy the nutrient content in kibble, which means your dog will be consuming something that is even more devoid of vitamins and proteins than it once was.
Rancid fats are attributed to countless health issues. This includes but is not limited to the following known problems:
- Hair loss
- Reproductive issues
- Kidney and liver disease
At this point, it should be quite easy to see why more and more pet owners are staying away from dry food products. But it doesn’t end here.
Chemicals and additives
Toxic ingredients are a mainstay of dry dog food. One of the most common is butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which is used for preservation and slowing down the process of fats becoming rancid. Knowing the above, that may sound like a good thing. However, BHA is no better as numerous studies have linked it to promoting cancer growth.
Some other chemicals you can expect to find in dry food include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, and food dyes, among others. Ethoxyquin, often called “fish meal,” is especially noteworthy for its effects, which include liver damage, thyroid damage, hemorrhages, and cancer.
There is no shortage of reasons to consider a dry food alternative for your dog. Raw dog food is one such example and is worth looking into, given the health benefits. Changing your dog’s diet and moving away from kibble is one of the best things you can do for their health.