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Kibble vs. Homemade Dog Food (Which is Better?)

If you’ve been thinking about what to feed your dog, you might have considered a few brands and types of dog food. From kibble, canned wet food, and raw, there is a lot you can feed your dog. You also have the option of preparing food at home for your dog. But which option is better, kibble or homemade dog food?

Kibble is better than homemade dog food in terms of nutritional value, while homemade dog food is more appealing to dogs. When it comes to kibble vs. homemade dog food, the homemade variety wins for fussy eaters, while kibble wins for dogs in general and is less costly.

Both have pros and cons, and you must consider them before choosing one.

In this article, we will get deeper into the dry dog food vs. homemade food discussion with the pros and cons of each type of dog food.

One thing to note is that when I’m talking about kibble, I’m referring to a good-quality brand that is complete and balanced in line with the AAFCO dog nutritional requirements.

I will also briefly cover the types of homemade food that are most nutritious for dogs and what you must look for when selecting kibble for your dog. Regardless of which type of food you pick, in the end, you will gain useful insights from this post.

Kibble vs. Homemade Dog Food

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Is Homemade Dog Food Better Than Kibble?

Homemade dog food can be as good as kibble or even better for your dog based on its nutritional content and how much he likes it. Kibble is no good to a dog that doesn’t eat it. Similarly, homemade food is not good for a dog if the dog’s nutritional needs are not met.

On a biological level, the place where the food is made matters very little. What matters are its nutritional value and how fond your dog is of said food. With those metrics in mind, here’s how homemade dog food fares against kibble.

Nutrition

Dog food businesses manufacture kibble with research and development departments dedicated to getting the nutritional makeup of dog food just right for specific breeds and life stages of dogs. 

In contrast, homemade food can be nutritious but might overshoot in calories or be a subpar source of nutrients. While exceptions exist, kibble is often more nutritious than homemade dog food.

One exception is if you employ the services of a pet nutritionist. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition has a directory of nutritionists, and you can have a remote consultation.

Adoption/Acceptance

Generally, dogs love homemade food more than kibble. Dogs can smell the aroma of homemade food and feel its moisture content, which are significant contributors to the canine food consumption experience.

On the other hand, kibble is dry and often needs toppers and moistening before it is appetizing for dogs. In this matter, homemade food beats kibble.

Again, exceptions do exist, but generally speaking, your dog is more likely to eat homemade food, but a good quality kibble is probably healthier for him. If your dog’s main problem is that he does not like his food, then you might want to introduce homemade food to your dog’s diet.

If the issue is related to nutrition, then you might want to consult a vet or expert canine nutritionist regarding the contents of the food recipe or introduce him to kibble.

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A GSD eating kibble from its bowl.
My dog eating kibble

Pros And Cons Of Kibble

Pros of Kibble (vs. Homemade Dog Food)Cons of Kibble (vs. Homemade Dog Food)
It is formulated to contain the nutrients your dog needsTop brands can be expensive, especially cold pressed
It is easy to carry as it is not too aromaticYou have to keep buying it at a regular frequency
It is easy to store because it is dryYour dog might not be fond of kibble
It is cheaper than homemade dog foodIt can contain highly processed ingredients
It does not need to be cooked unlike homemade dog foodIt has a very low moisture content
It is generally safe for dogsThe longer it is stored, the higher health risk it poses
It is easily available (homemade recipe ingredients might not be)It can contain unhealthy colorings and chemicals
Kibble vs. Homemade Dog Food (Pros and Cons)

Read more: Is Kibble Bad For Dogs? If So, Why?

A Dog Eating Kibble, Pros and cons of kibble vs. homemade dog food.

Pros And Cons Of Homemade Dog Food

Pros of Homemade Dog Food (vs. Kibble)Cons of Homemade Dog Food (vs. Kibble)
It is more appealing to your dogBeing wet (or semi-wet), it is harder to store
It improves your dog’s self-esteem (he can see you cook the food just like you cook yours)It is hard to carry because its smell is very obvious
Peace of mind (you know what’s in your dog’s diet)You have to cook it
It has a high moisture contentIt might not hit the nutritional requirements 
You can customize the recipe according to your dog’s dietary needsYour dog might become overweight or undernourished
Homemade Dog Food vs. Kibble (Pros and Cons)

So, what’s the bottom line?

From a surface-level assessment of the pros and cons of both dry dog food and homemade dog food, it is clear that there are advantages to each type that are disadvantages of the other.

Most dog owners find it surprising that kibble is healthier than homemade dog food. And there is a good reason for this reaction.

Homemade food is healthier for humans because our packaged food is formulated to entice our tastebuds. Dogs don’t buy their own food, so kibble makers don’t factor taste as highly as the nutritional value of the food.

It might be hard to believe, but many homemade recipes are generally not very healthy for dogs. A study of 200 homemade dog food recipes found that most lacked vital nutrients. In fact, only 10 of the recipes had the correct canine nutrients.

A more recent study of home-prepared pet diets found that all 106 diets analyzed had at least one nutrient below the recommendations, potentially exposing dogs to nutritional deficiencies. 

Watch This Video If You’re Considering Switching Your Dog To a Homemade Diet..

3 Things to Know Before Switching to Homemade Dog Food Cooking

Is Homemade Dog Food Healthier Than Kibble?

Homemade food is not healthier than kibble, but some recipes can be more nutritious than a low-quality kibble brand, especially if the meal has been designed and approved by a qualified dog nutritionist.

Sometimes, kibble is healthier than homemade food, but dogs don’t like it as much as they like soft food. If your dog rejects kibble, which in most cases is better for him, you have a few options.

  • Add a topper to the kibble – This is the shortcut to get your dog to eat dry food. You can get your dog hungrily consuming kibble by sprinkling organic treats or appetizing food over the kibble. Check out the ideas in this article, 15 Easy Foods To Mix With Dry Dog Food.
  • Mix kibble with canned dog food – Since canned dog food and kibble are both made to meet a dog’s nutritional requirements, this solution can be healthy and appetizing. You can even mix dog food brands.
  • Use canned dog food instead of kibble – Wet food is generally more appealing to dogs but can be unappealing to your budget. It is five times more expensive on average. 
  • Add homemade food to kibble – You can mix homemade food with kibble to pack nutrients and flavor in a single serving.
  • Add water to the kibbleAdding warm water to dry dog food turns it into a yummy ‘gravy,’ making it more appetizing and altering its palatability.

I like to add a topper to my dog’s kibble, such as pieces of meat, chicken, veggies, or Greek yogurt. Additionally, I’ll mix some wet food with my dog’s dry food.

Is Homemade Dog Food Healthier Than Kibble?

Mixing Homemade Dog Food With Kibble (A Compromise!)

You can mix homemade dog food with kibble to make kibble more appealing to your dog. Homemade dog food might not be as nutritious as kibble, but it can work up your dog’s appetite. And the kibble content can fulfill your dog’s dietary requirements.

You need to be aware of the proportions of the mix and the recipe you use for homemade dog food. Getting these right is crucial for dog food that is healthy and appetizing.

While that requires another post dedicated to mixing kibble with homemade dog food, this article has yet to cover one crucial area: best practices for choosing kibble and making homemade dog food.

Best practices for choosing kibble for your dog:

  • Consider the price, but don’t make price all you consider – The kibble your dog gets used to is the one you’ll be buying over and over. Make sure you consider that. But don’t let that be your permission to buy the cheapest box available.
     
  • Check the reviews and ratings – If you’re shopping on Amazon, look for dry dog food that has over 500 reviews and has at least 4.5 stars on average. This ensures that you’re getting food that enough pet owners have vouched for.
     
  • Make your purchase specific to the breed (size) of your dog – Dog food can be specific to the dog breed (like German Shepherd dog food) or can be targeted at a breed size (kibble for small dogs). If the package matches your dog’s size or breed description, you can get it for your pet.
     
  • Make your purchase specific to the life stage (age) of your dog – Puppies should eat puppy food, adult dogs should eat adult dog food, and seniors can have senior food. In some instances, there is young-adult dog food as well. Ensure the kibble you buy matches your dog’s age or life stage.
     
  • Try a few types of kibble until you find the right one – Don’t buy your first choice of kibble in bulk. You don’t know how fond your dog might be of it. You will have to try a few types of dry food before you find one your dog likes.
     
  • Avoid overprocessed kibble with too many preservatives – Make sure the kibble you get isn’t packed with too many preservatives and colors. Try to get healthy kibble like Taste of the Wild from Amazon or Royal Canin, both well-known brands for their closer-to-nature formulation.
A bowl of Home Produced Dog Food.

Best practices for preparing homemade food for your dog

  • Use vet-verified recipes – Average recipes can be undernourishing or weight-packing for dogs. Vet-verified recipes are much better if your dog’s diet is supposed to be 100% homemade.
     
  • Go protein-heavy – It is harder to go wrong with protein like chicken or red meat. Make sure to include enough protein in your dog’s diet. You can check your dog’s nutritional needs here.
     
  • Include some greens – A small dose of veggie carbs can help add flavor and vitamins to your dog’s diet.
     
  • Bet on moisture – Wet food is generally more appetizing to dogs, so cook your dog food to be less dry.
     
  • Avoid scrap-recycling recipes – Do not use recipes that recommend recycling scraps from the previous night’s dinner. You will not coincidentally get a nutritious meal using a non-specific recipe.
     
  • Store homemade food properly – Store the homemade dog food properly as it doesn’t have preservatives and can go bad quickly.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

In a kibble vs. homemade dog food discussion, kibble emerges as a clear winner in terms of nutrition, while homemade dog food remains the more appetizing option. You can mix the two to get the best of both worlds, but just be mindful of your choice of recipe and kibble alongside the proportions. 

And if you’re still undecided on choosing kibble or home-cooked dog food, you might want to consider kibble vs. raw dog food.

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