Thinking of switching your dog to a homemade diet, or looking to add more fresh foods into their regimen? It can be easiest to reach for kibble purely out of convenience, but with the right recipes, a homemade diet can make all the difference in the quality of their food. We’ve compiled the top ways that a homemade, fresh food diet differs from traditional dog kibble, and some of them may surprise you!
1. Highly processed - When you purchase kibble at the store or online, you’ll notice that it contains a long list of ingredients that are processed into the kibble shape. When you cook at home for your dog, you generally use 10 or less ingredients, plus a specially-formulated supplement. This keeps the meal simple, fresh and whole-food based versus overly processed.
2. Cooked at high temperatures - Extrusion, the common process used to cook kibble, uses machinery to cook and shape dog food into those crunchy little pieces. Since the kibble needs to be heated at high temperatures, there’s a risk of loss of nutrition or denaturing of proteins in the process. Often flavor enhancers are added to replace what has been lost during the high-heat cooking. Although ingredients are heated when you cook fresh food at home, the temperatures won’t reach the high points used in the kibble-making process.
3. Non-organic ingredients and GMOs - The majority of dog kibble brands are conventional, meaning they’re not organic and pesticides are used in their ingredients. These foods often contain genetically modified ingredients, like corn or soy.
4. Low moisture - Kibble is a dry dog food, which means it is lacking in moisture. Moisture and hydration are important for many daily bodily functions in dogs. Signs of dehydration in dogs can include dry nose or gums, dry eyes, low energy levels or loss of appetite. When you feed your dog a whole-food diet full of healthy, hydrating plant foods, you’re avoiding chronic dehydration.
5. Added colors and unwanted chemicals - During the kibble-making process, additives like colors and preservatives are often included for product stability or flavor reasons.
In order to avoid unwanted ingredients in your dog’s food, it’s important to research the products before you purchase. In addition to understanding what the ingredient panel shows, you may want to look into what the company stands for. You should be able to reach out directly to the dog food company's customer support email or phone number with any questions. There are some kibble brands that use different cooking methods, such as baking, instead of the more traditional extrusion method. These kibbles often still contain meat-based ingredients, though, which can become carcinogenic when heated and processed. Our favorite way to ensure total control over the ingredients your dog eats? Cook them homemade meals with ingredients you choose and make into meals with love.