When I first adopted Suki, she was on a low-quality, grain-heavy kibble that was wrecking havoc on her skin, stomach, and weight. I wanted to switch her to a new food that would not only help her current issues, but also provide the best long-term nutritional support. The sheer number of options in the pet stores was overwhelming! Should I choose kibble, canned food, freeze-dried or frozen raw? I had no idea, so I threw myself into the world of dog food nutrition. Based on Suki’s needs, I narrowed down the choices to kibble or raw.
There are many types of kibble available on the market ranging from low-quality to high-quality. If choosing kibble, select the highest quality food allowed by your budget. Low-quality kibble uses cheaper ingredients, dangerous preservatives, and includes more grains and fillers. Make sure to read the ingredient list on the bag. Meat should be among the first 3 ingredients, not corn or other fillers. The meat should be recognizable: chicken vs. by-product. By-products include parts not considered safe for human consumption such as: beaks, diseased parts, and hoofs. If it’s not safe for people, then why feed it to your dog?
Pros of Kibble:
– Convenient to store and feed
– More cost-effective up front to feed
– Different formulas for puppies, adults, seniors, pregnant dogs
– Easily found in pet stores
Cons of Kibble:
– Have to weed out the low-quality from high-quality kibble.
– Lower quality kibble causes larger & smellier poop, since not as digestible.
– Contains high levels of protein and sodium which are bad for some dogs.
– The high heat process used to make the food into the kibble form causes some nutrients to be lost. Look for brands that add the minerals back into their food at the end.
– Larger bags are more economical, but the kibble can go bad if not used quickly enough
– Dogs sensitive to carbs can gain weight on kibble due to potatoes or tapioca as ingredients. A few brands use chickpeas instead which can help with weight issues.
Kibble found in a reputable pet store vs. a grocery store tends to be a higher quality. These brands cost more up front, but they are better for your pet and can save you money down the road on vet bills.
Frozen Raw Dog Food
Suki needs a low protein, low sodium, and low carb food due to her kidney and weight issues. I researched many kibble brands, but they all had protein levels in the upper 20 to 30% and too much sodium. Raw food had 13% protein and much lower sodium levels. I switched to the frozen raw patties and haven’t looked back.
Frozen Raw Food Pros:
– Healthier for pets due to less fillers and preservatives. Nutrients aren’t baked out during processing.
– Dogs poop less, since raw food is more easily digested. Their poop also smells less.
– Dogs have more energy.
– Provides more water intake to dogs from the moisture content. You may notice your dog drinks less.
– Kept in the freezer, so don’t have to worry about rodents getting into kibble bags.
Frozen Raw Food Cons:
– Costs more up front to feed than kibble especially for larger dogs.
– Somewhat inconvenient. You have to remember to thaw out the food for each meal.
– More difficult to use when traveling. Freeze-dried food is a good alternative when traveling. Most raw food companies also make a freeze-dried version of their raw food.
Most brands offer the raw food in either a patty for medium to large dogs or medallions for smaller dogs. Some raw foods tend to be bloodier than others when thawed which I just couldn’t handle. I’ve found Stella & Chewy’s and Nature’s Variety to be the least bloody brands if that bothers you.
Which Food Should You Choose?
I tried a few high-quality kibble brands, which were good, but Suki just does better on raw food. She not only lost weight, but had more energy, slept better, and had a shinier coat. No single dog food is best for every dog though. Each dog has his own individual needs, and each owner has their own budget. Try to feed the best quality food that fits within your budget. Read the ingredients and nutritional information for a food before choosing it. If the bag doesn’t list the information, check the company’s website. Most specialized pet stores have knowledgeable staff who can help you narrow down the brand choices based on your dog’s specific needs. Don’t hesitate to ask for their input!
Stacey Snyder is a devoted rescue mom to Suki, a sweet 7 year old lab/beagle mix. She also is the founder of BellyRubPlease.com which covers dog tips, news articles, product reviews, and special commentary from Suki.