You love your dog and you want to feed him the best you can, but you’re on a budget and don’t have a lot of free time. Kibble, for now, is what you need to feed.
No judgement here!
We all need to start where we are.
What we can do is try to find the best food we can within our limitations.
First, a few hard and fast rules:
No corn, wheat, or soy (highly allergenic as well as possibly GMO). After that it doesn’t matter if it’s grain free or not, you’re just swapping starches around. Do detective work to find out what works or doesn’t work for your dog (example – mine don’t do well with a lot of white potato). Every dog is different. Look for bright eyes and a soft coat.
Avoid Carrageenan (carcinogen, possible cause of cancer).
If possible, skip peas (pretty much in the same category as corn and soy).
Some oils that sound good, but probably aren’t are canola oil, highly processed and inflammatory to the body. And salmon oil. By the time you open the bag, it’s probably rancid.
Let’s look at some labels:
This is a popular cheap food. When looking at labels, be sure to note the first 6 to 7 ingredients. Watch for ingredient splitting.
This label lists corn twice within the first 3 ingredients. Yikes! This is an example of ingredient splitting. Used to make it look like corn isn’t the main ingredient, when it is.
Meat and bone meal. What is that? Pretty much anything goes. If there is a meat meal or byproduct, make sure it lists the meat source (like chicken, or beef).
Then there is animal fat. Again, what kind? At the very least it should list an actual animal source.
Omega fatty acids. Omega 6 is okay, but it needs to be balanced with Omega 3s. Omega 6 alone or out of ratio with Omega 3 is not good. It is a huge source of inflammation in the body. Shoot for a ratio of 1:1, up to 3:1. Some bags actually list the omega ratios.
Soybean meal. Gross. Highly GMO (unless specified as non GMO) and is an inferior protein source. Dogs don’t break it down well. Soybean has also been shown to promote thyroid issues. Just say no.
Natural flavor. Another unknown and could contain MSG. It would be used to get your dog to eat more of the food. It’s a brain excitotoxin and an allergen.
Chicken byproduct meal. At least there is a named meat source.
Then it goes on with more ingredients that have no reason to be in dog food.
After the first about 7 ingredients, the rest of the list is in very small amounts.
One other thing to point out is that this food has had to add in manufactured protein. DL Methionine is one of them. The DL tells you it is not natural.
They had to add in protein because there wasn’t enough meat in their ingredients.
Dogs are carnivores. They need meat, not synthetics.
Side note: DL Methionine is often found in dry cat foods. It’s known as kitty crack because cats can’t stop eating it. You think your cat loves the food, so it must be good for her. Nope.
At least chicken is the first and fourth ingredient.
But corn is the second ingredient.
Sorghum is suspect, and I would like to see it not in the top 3 spots.
Good to see the byproduct meal has a named meat source.
L-Lysine is another protein that has had to be added in because there isn’t enough naturally occurring in the limited amount of meat on the label.
Keep in mind that a whole meat source like chicken, or de-boned chicken is weighed before it has been dried into kibble. This means that all the water weight (juices) are lost and the amount of chicken actually ends up as less than where it is listed on the ingredient panel.
Meals are weighed already dried.
This was a very popular food that recently came under fire. They will probably change their formula in the future.
Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients. Good. It would be great to see a third meat source in the top 4 spots, but this one uses soybean instead.
The rice isn’t so bad, but the corn is. Corn is also listed again lower down. This is ingredient splitting again. This means total corn could actually be listed third or fourth instead of fifth.
Poultry fat could be any bird. Usually turkey, chicken and duck.
Natural chicken flavor could mean anything.
Beet pulp is just used as a filler.
Believe it or not, this is a high end dog food. It pays to read your labels.
Take a look at this fun list.
Lamb meal is first, but then there is a long list of grains. To include corn and soy.
There is L-Lysine again. Not enough quality meat protein.
Chicken liver “flavor?”
AARGH! It’s ALL bad!
Don’t despair! There are some okay kibbles you can feed, that won’t break the bank.
How does this one look?
The first 4 ingredients are named meats.
No corn, wheat or soy.
Coconut oil. That’s good. It also tolerates higher heat. It might survive the cooking process.
Tocopherols are Vitamin E
Berries give nutritional support without a lot of sugar.
For me, I have to watch the amount of potatoes with my dogs (their coats get yucky feeling), but they can tolerate this one.
Don’t depend on the probiotics listed at the end to be much benefit. They don’t usually live through the kibble process.
If I feed kibble, this is a brand I could choose (and have) . I would add a bit of good canned food to it. Or homemade bone broth (no onion – it does bad things and could kill your dog).
If you can, add:
- some fresh veggies (broccoli, carrots, parsley) to their kibble. Puree with yogurt (see below), or bone broth (no onion) if they a fussy, like mine
- water packed sardines a couple of times per week
- full fat, plain, cultured yogurt (about a tsp per 10 pounds) a couple of times per week
- water packed mackerel instead of sardines
- a chilled, hard boiled egg a couple of times per week (I have a dog who won’t touch hot food. She acts like it is biting her. Ha ha)
You CAN feed kibble and still do well by your pet.
Know what to look for.
Add what you can.
Make sure you provide plenty of fresh (filtered) water. Kibble is very drying.
And love your dog.
What other mix-ins can you think of? Let me know in the comments below.
Live, Love, Bark,