Kibble. It’s the mainstay of many a cat’s or dog’s diet. Pet parents are often told that it’s essential to feed kibble because it’s good for dental health and it’s complete and balanced, or if it’s a prescription food, it will help your animal with whatever health issue they have.
I call BS on all of these, because… The negative aspects of kibble far outweigh any of these reasons. ALSO, these reasons are misguided. Keep reading to find out why.
As for dental health, kibble is high in carbohydrates aka sugar (hello tartar), and most kibble will shatter upon your animal biting down on it (if they even bite it!). For good dental hygiene, your animal needs foods that have the right size, shape and texture and/or regular brushing/cleans. Even dental diets that have bigger pieces of kibble will still be high in carbohydrates and will come with the negative health consequences of kibble.
Just because a food says it’s complete and balanced doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. It just means that it meets the AAFCO nutrient requirements, which can be done with completely artificial ingredients.
Prescription foods are scientifically formulated to assist with various health issues. They can work to manage a particular health condition but at the cost of your animal’s health suffering in other ways because of the nature of the food itself (check out the slides above).
Kibble can have a negative impact on your pet‘s health, resulting in health issues like skin and coat issues, digestive issues, obesity, musculoskeletal issues, inflammation and much more.
Kibble is not the type of food to promote good health or longevity.
Here‘s 6 reasons why…
1) High heat processing
Kibble requires extensive heat processing, which leads to nutrient and digestibility loss. Animal body parts and miscellaneous ingredients are rendered into a grey, colourless slurry. This slurry is heated again to produce protein meal for use in kibble (and canned pet foods).
2) Carb heavy
Cats and dogs don‘t have a nutrient requirement for carbohydrates. Most kibble (including prescription brands) have carbohydrate levels of 50-60%! Feeding high carbohydrate foods like kibble to your pet can result in poor health outcomes, including skin issues, digestive issues and obesity.
Most carbohydrate ingredients are subject to chemical fertilisers and herb- or pesticides, including glyphosate. Glyphosate is a carcinogen, meaning it can have toxic effects on your pet's health.
3) Pet grade ingredients
Unless the kibble contains human grade ingredients, it will contain ingredients that aren‘t fit for human consumption. This will likely include low quality meats, vegetables, cereals and legumes that have been discarded from the human food supply chain, as well as road kill, euthanised pets, diseased body parts including cancerous tumours, rotting plant foods, plastics and rubbish.
4) Artificial ingredients
Common artificial ingredients found in kibble include colours, flavours, preservatives and synthetic vitamins and minerals.
These are not foods. They are chemical ingredients used to improve the flavour, colour and shelf life of the "food", as well as replace nutrients that have been lost in processing and/or that are needed to meet AAFCO pet food requirements at a low cost to the producer.
Kibble can contain toxic residues from chemically grown crops, medications given to the animals incorporated into the pet food, toxic compounds from plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids that have gone rancid due to the high processing heats, and mould or fungi.*
6) Low moisture levels
Kibble generally has less than 10% moisture levels. Cats and dogs are designed to get their moisture needs from their food (cats especially).
If they only eat kibble, they will be severely dehydrated, which can result in a whole host of health issues (eg kidney disease, dry skin, lethargy, panting, appetite loss).
Even if the diet consists of just 50% and your pet drinks water, it is unlikely that their moisture needs will be met.
Don’t want to feed kibble but unsure of alternatives?
Next month I’m going to be running a Holistic Animal Care Intensive Workshop. You’ll learn about various aspects of holistic animal care, including healthy pet nutrition so that you can optimise your pet’s health, healing and longevity! Find out more and register here.
*Mould/fungi can occur pre-harvest and in storage. For more on the presence of mould or fungi in pet food, see Martínez-Martínez L et al, ‘Toxic Effect of Aflatoxins in Dogs Fed Contaminated Commercial Dry Feed: A Review‘. Toxins (Basel). 2021 Jan 15;13(1):65. doi: 10.3390/toxins13010065. PMID: 33467754