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Is Kibble Bad For Dogs? What No One Is Talking About!

Kibble bashing is rising just as the raw dog diet and wet food are returning in fashion. I feed my dog a mixed diet and have extensively researched all types of dog food. The reason why I don’t rely on kibble alone isn’t that it is bad, though.

Kibble is not bad for dogs as long as it is complete and balanced and fulfills all their nutritional needs. Dogs need the correct ratio of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that might not be in a specific low-quality brand of kibble.

Nutrition aside, some dogs might be unable to chew it properly due to dental or gum disease, old age, or might just prefer wet food and none of these make kibble objectively bad.

But it is very easy to make a poor diet out of kibble if you select the wrong kibble or avoid adding anything to it to make it more nutritious and palatable and force it onto your dog regardless of how he reacts to it.

Read this article to find out the objective downsides of kibble and how to offset them. It is not written by a kibble basher (I feed my dog kibble) but by someone who can see the potential mistakes one can make when feeding a dry dog food diet.

Dog Eating Kibble
My dog Willow eating her kibble (with some chicken as a topper)

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Is Dry Dog Food Bad?

Let’s consider the argument that dry dog food is bad.

Dry dog food is bad for a dog with sore gums, poor dental health, or if the dog prefers wet dog food. It can also be bad if it makes up 100% of a dog’s diet and lacks the nutrition required by the dog’s life stage.

But none of this makes dry dog food inherently bad.

You just need to be more careful about the quality of the kibble you select and ensure it meets all the nutritional requirements laid out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

We’ll now take a look at all the possible drawbacks of selecting poor-quality kibble.

Disadvantages Of Dry Dog Food

In this section, we’ll look at the main disadvantages of dry dog food. Since premium dry dog food is as healthy as commercial dog food can get, I’ll not focus on the best of the best.

Instead, I’ll take a cautionary look at the drawbacks of cheap dry dog food bought and fed carelessly. You will find the flipside for each disadvantage in its respective section.

1. It Contains Processed Ingredients

The most significant drawback of dry dog food is that it is not 100% natural. It might contain 99% natural ingredients, but it still needs to be processed in order to be dry. Kibble is often formulated to be convenient for dog owners more than it is meant to be suitable for dogs. 

Most often, it is economically convenient. And the problem with that is the quality of ingredients used. Processing can mask the true quality of the contents used. Often these are “feed-grade” ingredients that are equivalent to leftovers. Processing methods can turn them into kibble, but that doesn’t make the contents fresh or as nourishing.

THE FLIP SIDE:

Natural dry dog food is a huge market, and you can easily get products that don’t contain over-processed or feed-grade ingredients.

Royal Canin is an example of dog food that doesn’t have this and other drawbacks of kibble listed in this article.

I’m also a big fan of cold-pressed dry dog food, which I feed my German Shepherd. In contrast to kibble, which is extruded at high temperatures, cold-pressed is, as its name suggests. The food is cooked at much lower temperatures, retaining more of its essential nutrients, as they aren’t lost in the cooking process.

It looks and feels just like kibble but is healthier. Check out the photo of my dog below, showing off her favorite food. Just look at that tongue!

Dog with a bag of dry dog food. Disadvantages of dry dog food.
My German Shepherd with her favorite dry food

2. It Lacks Fiber

Kibble can hit the marks on protein and carbs, even though it is not made from prime ingredients. However, fixating on macronutrients is the best kibble can offer.

Even though we know that dogs need other nutrients and supplements besides protein and carbohydrates, most kibble makers cannot afford to deliver anything besides the macros. 

One substance often derived from macronutrients is fiber. And while your dog can get plenty of fiber from regular sources of carbs, he cannot get it from kibble. Kibble isn’t usually fiber rich, and since fiber is essential for digestion, its lack in your dog’s diet can result in digestion issues.

THE FLIP SIDE:

You can mix food items rich in fiber, such as pumpkin, to ensure that your dog gets enough fiber in his diet.

My article on what to mix with dry dog food can help you with this. 

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3. It Contains High-Starch Carbs

Starchy carbohydrates can pump your dog full of energy, but excess energy can lead to obesity. High-starch carbs are the most common carbohydrates in commercial dog food. Dry dog food is a major culprit in this since it is more practical to store simple carbs in dry kibble form.

THE FLIP SIDE:

Add freeze-dried dog food to your dog’s diet to lower the concentration of high-starch carbs. Raw freeze-dried dog food contains 97% meat and organs and no fillers. It can improve the health profile of your dog’s diet if it makes up 25% to 50% of his food.

You can check out more info about mixing kibble with raw here, Mixing Kibble With Raw? (Myths, Facts, and Feeding Guide).

Dog Laying Down Looking at Food Bowl.
“Any chance of a juicy steak?”

4. It Isn’t Holistic

Kibble isn’t dangerous for dogs. It is bad for them. And the difference is that one can safely incorporate kibble into a dog’s diet. I feed my dog kibble too.

But when I say kibble is bad, I mean that one can easily make mistakes with a kibble diet. 

The most common mistake you can make with a kibble diet is to assume that kibble takes care of all of your dog’s dietary needs. That is not the case. Kibble is not holistic, and plenty of micronutrients and supplements can be added to your dog’s diet. 

The fact that kibble isn’t holistic is by no means an issue if you make sure your dog’s overall diet takes care of all aspects. But if your dog eats kibble only, then all of the shortcomings of dry dog food can become serious liabilities.

THE FLIP SIDE:

As mentioned earlier, you can mix other food items with kibble to make your dog’s diet more wholesome. Veggies, meats, fish, and fruits are just some examples.

5. Your Dog Might Not Like It

In human food, it is common to see an inverse relationship between appetizing and healthy. What is appetizing is usually unhealthy, and what is healthy doesn’t taste as good. In the case of dry dog food, unhealthy food is also not as tasty. 

Free of complex carbs, rich nutrition sources, moisture, minerals, and fiber, kibble is unhealthy as the sole food source. To make things worse, your dog might not even like its taste. The human equivalent of this would be a sugary chocolate bar that tastes like kale!  

Not all dogs reject kibble, though. Many dogs take a liking to it, but it seems like an acquired taste for most. How good kibble tastes to dogs also depends on the make of the kibble itself. Not all dry dog food is formulated alike, and some brands are more appetizing than others.

THE FLIP SIDE:

Fortunately, knowing what to mix with kibble can make your dog’s food more flavorful, holistic, and healthy.

Below are photos of my dog Willow showing her dry food mixed with natural yogurt and steak. You can even add water to dry dog food to increase the aroma and texture and turn it into a yummy gravy.

6. It Contains Chemical Preservatives

Kibble is naturally not very appetizing. If you read my post on whether dogs like the taste of their food, you will realize most of their appetite is driven by their sense of smell. Chemicals are used in dry dog food not just for preservation but also for flavor enhancement. 

These chemicals might make kibble more flavorful but are unnecessary junk at best and harmful to your dog’s biology at worst. When you order kibble, make sure it is backed by a trustworthy brand that wouldn’t choose unhealthy chemicals.

THE FLIP SIDE:

Many well-reputed kibble brands choose not to use unhealthy preservatives. Some of them resort to using no preservatives whatsoever. Choosing the right kibble can offset this problem.

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7. It Contains Colors

Almost all kibble is artificially colored. Colorants can be a digestive nuisance at best and harmful to your dog at worst. Colors are popular in cheap kibble, which is one reason not to be a bargain buyer when it comes to kibble.

The Flipside: Again, choosing the right kibble can help you offset its drawbacks. Some stores, such as Target, have an entire section dedicated to dog food with no artificial colors.

Kibble

8. It Can Go Bad 

Finally, a significant drawback introduces a lose-lose scenario to almost any type of kibble. If kibble doesn’t contain chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients, it can go bad. Some of the most popular “all-natural” kibble packages go bad long before they are finished. Understanding how to store kibble can help you offset this drawback.

THE FLIP SIDE:

Buy smaller portions of kibble and store it properly.

9. Storage Mites Can Infest It

Dry dog food can attract storage mites which can thrive in containers of dry dog food when even a few kibbles get wet. The wetness of kibble leads to molding, and storage mites consume this mold and multiply rapidly.

Most dogs have a severe allergic reaction to these mites and can start losing hair and suffer from skin inflammation when given a serving of mite-infested kibble. 

THE FLIP SIDE:

Make sure the kibble stays dry and store it properly. Avoid buying kibble in bulk.

Final Thoughts

Kibble is not inherently bad for dogs, but it does have serious potential to be bad. If you choose a dry dog food that cannot nourish your dog according to his dietary requirements, he might become obese and unhealthy.

Many bargain brand kibble packages come full of preservatives, colorants, and chemical additives. Choose high-quality kibble and mix it with nutritious food to make your dog’s diet more wholesome and healthy.

If you’re still not convinced about the whole kibble debate, you might like to jump to these two articles:

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