1. 10% moisture
Kibble, as commercial dry dog food is called, has almost all the water removed, it is dehydrated so that it keeps, it’s cheaper to transport (less volume) and easier for you to store at home. Nothing in that system is about the end consumer, your dog. The dog’s internal system has to re-hydrate the kibble in order to break it down and utilise it, the kidneys work the most, and the moisture must be taken from somewhere in the body.
- Solution? Re-hydrate it yourself before feeding it to your dog. For every cup of kibble, add at least a cup of water or stock or milk. Whatever your dog likes most. It isn’t necessary to soak it, although that is better, the dog often won’t eat it once soaked as the intensity of flavour from dehydration (and flavour enhancers) makes it more appealing to the nose of the dog. Yes, most dogs will drink water later, but not usually until the kidneys tell the dogs body that they desperately need water. By then damage is done.
2. Highly processed food is pro-inflammatory
Simply put it doesn’t matter how expensive or how fancy it is, it is still a highly processed food and we know that highly processed food humans eat ie ‘fast food’ has long term consequences. We refer to these highly processed foods as ‘empty calories’ meaning it is converted into ‘energy’ for the body, but not the true nutrition that we think of with food and its complexity.
Kibble is generally made by cooking/boiling waste product, to form what is called a ‘slurry’ – the stuff that rises to the top, (which when cooking for ourselves we normally throw out) dehydrating the slurry, extruding it, which compacts it and forces it into a pellet. In the process, a vitamin premix is added to make the kibble to meet the dog’s vitamin and mineral needs.
Like the human equivalent of fast food, eating too much of this kind of food, for too long has a negative effect on the body. The things you might notice in your dog are skin irritations, rashes, hot spots, bare patches, redness, or it could be joint stiffness, weeping eyes, and the big one is obesity as this kind of ‘empty calorie’ is not nourishing the dog’s body.
- Solution? Adding an anti-inflammatory product helps to mitigate some of the inflammation. That is why fish oil is so often recommended for dogs with skin and arthritic conditions as Omega 3 in fish oil is known to be anti-inflammatory. There are also some very good (human) anti-inflammatory supplements on the market, ask your health food shop.
3. Poor quality protein
Most food has some protein but good quality protein really comes from living animals ie- ‘meat’. However meat is expensive, and commercial pet food is all about keeping cost down so the ‘protein source’ is often obscure, to say the least and downright misleading at other times. Much of the ‘anti-grain’ movement in pet food is because the protein source in Petfood was mostly coming from grain, not meat. And even the meat source is usually all the disgusting bits previously rejected.
- Solution? Add some good quality protein to your dog’s dinner bowl. It doesn’t have to be expensive; eggs, (cooked preferably), cottage cheese or plain yogurt, sardines (low salt), and any of the cheaper cuts of meat – preferably cooked to kill the bacteria.
4. No living food
Let's be honest here, although not all of us love vegetables, vegetables love us and really nourish our bodies. Living food is food that has the minimum interference, that comes as nature intended, with as little processing as possible. That is the opposite of commercial pet food.
- Solution? Add vegetables. Dogs need their vegetables to be cooked or pulverised, so that the cellulose is broken down and the faster digestion of the dog can use it. Adding steamed and mashed broccoli is fantastic, any leafy greens like Chinese greens, cooked and mashed root vegetables like carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato. Your leftovers are great as long as you eat healthily, just take out the onion first, and watch the fat from meat, that is the bit we usually leave and too much can cause problems for your dog.
5. Poor quality fats and oils
Due to the way kibble is processed, the oil used in manufacture is by definition also treated to high heat, or from disused animal fat, which is highly saturated and not good for the arteries. At times oil is sprayed on the ‘finished product’ to make it more appealing but again the long shelf life requirement means it has to be stabilized, losing most of its goodness.
- Solution? Add a spoonful of good quality, cold-pressed oils to your dog’s dinner bowl. Olive oil is great. Any salad oil that you like will be great for your dog. You can buy specialist (human food) oils from the health food shop like Udo’s Choice, Flax-seed oil or cod liver oil. Rotating the oil you use, so that it gives a range of the goodness is a great idea for you and your dog.
- Another step to take is adding a good quality supplement. Look for ones that have a wide range of wholefoods with minimal processing – such as Wellbeing Essentials.
And the really good news is that if you have taken these steps you’re now very close to making your dog’s food anyway, so throw out the kibble and get cooking!