Kibble vs Raw Dog Food – What Should You Feed Your Dog?
Starting up a new diet for your dog? Then you’re probably wondering what to choose between raw dog food vs kibble.
And we know why this happens. You’re thinking both about the health of your dogs as well as convenience. One takes less time to prepare but can be somewhat dangerous. The other can be way healthier but is way more time-consuming.
There are many other factors to consider though. And choosing between them won’t be an easy thing to do.
Luckily, we’re here to simplify the process for you – so you can learn all about both and eventually pick the ideal one accordingly.
So, are you ready to start learning how these two differ from each other and which one can be perfect for your needs? Then head on and find out!
What Is Raw Dog Food?
When someone says raw dog food, they’re referring to anything that a dog likes to eat without any processing.
This often consists of foods like raw meat, bones, organs, eggs, dairy products, and probably even fruits and vegetables.
Many theories confirm the use of raw dog food as the healthiest alternative for most canines. What’s the main reason? Well, wild canines like wolves and foxes eat that kind of food – so they’re supposed to be the healthiest for dogs as well.
Yet, there are many other reasons and benefits, such as the ability to grow shinier coats, improve dental health, produce smaller stools, enhance energy levels, and maintain healthy skin.
It is even safe to say that raw dog food is usually tastier for dogs than other kinds. And that’s something to think about as well.
But raw dog food is unregulated. So pets are at slightly more risk with it. And at the same time, preparing this kind of diet for your pet can be pretty time-consuming.
Overall, getting raw food for your dog has tons of advantages you can enjoy. But it also has a few disadvantages worth considering.
- Tasty for dogs
- Rich in nutrients
- Improve overall health
- Lack of processing makes it healthy
- Time-consuming preparation
- May contain harmful bacteria & viruses
What Is Kibble?
Kibble or dry food refers to all those food commercially created for dogs with proper nutritional balance and safe production methods.
These kibble food usually contains ingredients like fish, eggs, beef, poultry, grains, cereals, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
A standard kibble bag contains all kinds of food sources, but all these sources are checked and regulated to make sure they match the needs of canines. At the same time, they need to be super safe for animals and be free of any harmful chemical or product for dogs.
This happens because most brands focus on resembling the natural diet of a wild canine. But here, the food needs to be processed to the point of being way healthier, safer, and easier to consume. So while it has all the benefits, it has additional production rules.
Among the benefits of taking kibble, you can find fewer bacteria ingestion, better gum health, lower dental plaque, more accessible storage and preparation, a lot less risk of spoilage, and usually more affordable over time.
However, kibble foods come in a wide array of styles and preparations. Some are based on meat protein sources entirely, while others have more grain and vegetable sources instead.
That means choosing the ideal option is not always easy, and choosing the wrong one can mean placing the dog on an unhealthy diet.
In short, kibble refers to dry food, especially made for dogs to eat safe and healthy in a convenient way.
- Super convenient to prepare
- Affordable and easy to find
- Promote better dental health
- Regulated production for safety
- Highly processed food
- Cheap options can be unsafe
Kibble vs Raw Dog Food: Factors to Consider
Now that you have a better idea between both options, which one will be better for you? Well, now we’re going to explain all that.
First and foremost, what types of components will you find in a raw dog food diet – and which ones are common in kibble?
Let’s start with raw foods. Here, you are more likely to find more meats, poultry, and dairy than anything else. From chicken to fish, red beef, pork, and even bones, milk, and eggs – all those are usual ingredients in most raw dog food diets.
What’s the catch? Well, easy – much of these ingredients are not processed against diseases, and sometimes they don’t have proper preservatives. So you can leave a dog to eat one of these, and it will not be protected against most diseases, and it is sure to spoil faster than processed food.
Overall, though, these diets are filled with nutrients and tons of protein that dogs love and need. So you won’t be giving ingredients your dog hates.
On the other hand, you will find dry foods are more processed, yet contain parts from poultry like chickens and eggs, as well as meat, bone, and cartilages. But at the same time, kibble comes with carbohydrates like grains and vegetables.
This gives both the protein for the body and the carbs for the energy. Yet, some dry foods are made of salmon and other fish, maybe also lamb – so they provide the same kind of protein-rich meal, but with less fat.
And with pure-grain or vegetable choices, the carbs amount is enormous – so dogs end up consuming lots of calories. This includes foods with wheat, corn, soybeans, and similar grains. These can be difficult for some dogs to process.
So, which option is healthier when it comes to ingredients? It depends. But because most dry foods are processed and checked to be exactly what dogs need – they end up being the most nutritional.
What’s the main difference between raw dog food and kibble? That would be the processing.
While raw dog food rarely goes under processing (especially with meats and poultry), some of these natural foods may contain tons of preservatives that are not apt for animal consumption. Remember, these foods are usually safe for us, humans – but not for our pets.
But the lack of processing usually requires way fewer preservatives than dry food, actually. And on top of that, they contain natural enzymes, microbes, and bacteria that help dogs have a healthier digestive system.
At the same time, some of these bacteria, microbes, germs, and natural ingredients can be dangerous. And it’s never sure whether raw food contains harmful contaminants or not – because it doesn’t undergo strict processing methods like kibble does.
In contrast, dry foods go through more strict processing methods. From natural preservatives like tocopherols and citric acid to the cooking with heat that gets rid of most possibly dangerous bacteria – dry foods are more processed.
These processes also include the exact pick of ingredients to provide valuable nutritional benefits – including high protein and carbs accordingly. And they usually include extra vitamins and minerals to offer even better nutritional value.
Sadly, these processes usually kill natural enzymes that dogs need in their digestive system. At the same time, they may contain less protein or more carbohydrates than necessary. So they may end up being slightly tricky for dogs to digest – especially the cheapest options.
Here, we can say that the processing of dry food usually makes it healthier. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to digest for dogs and may contain fewer natural digestive enzymes that are necessary for a dog’s health.
An additional factor you need to consider is the number of calories that each type of food offers.
For raw food, for example, these calories tend to stay low or medium. Especially if dogs only eat lean-meat foods like chicken and eggs, then they’re likely to get a low-calorie diet. Yet, dogs usually need the fat and extra benefits of fatty meats, yet they digest and absorb these nutrients effectively.
Dry foods, in contrast, are denser when it comes to calories. Because they sometimes have tons of ingredients in the same food, it is likely to have vast amounts of calories as well. The combination of carbohydrates with protein makes it work that way.
So, which one offers more calories? That would be dry food. With condensed preparation, they are likely to provide higher nutritional value, which can be helpful to keep dogs healthy with less food. But at the same time, the extra calories may produce obesity and other issues – so they should be moderated.
Raw food, however, does not usually offer the overeating problem. Yet, natural food is more likely not to fill a dog’s nutritional needs easily.
It is safe to say, then, that if you want ideal nutrition for your dog – then the calorie-rich composition of dry foods would make it so. But you have to be careful, because too much dry food may also end up in obesity.
What type of food contains more water and helps with the hydration of the animal? That’s another vital factor to think about.
And here, you will find that raw dog food performs way better than kibble. This happens because fresh food contains all the liquid that meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, and grains have. So while they won’t necessarily keep a dog hydrated, they will make it easier to do so.
But dry foods are dry. Even the moistest of kibble lacks the vital humidity that raw food contains. This is not necessarily detrimental for dogs, but it could promote dehydration over time.
So it’s clear that dry foods, as their name suggests, are super dry. That’s why it is vital to give kibble with lots of side liquids like water to keep dogs hydrated. Raw foods are not so dry, so while they still need to be supplemented alongside water, they won’t promote dehydration so easily.
Practicality and Time
Which one is the easiest to prepare and the less time-consuming? No doubt, this is super important.
Dry food is made with the sole purpose of saving time and effort in making raw dog foods. While it feels as simple as just cutting up the meat and giving it to the dog – it is not so easy.
In fact, preparing raw food for a dog requires meticulous handling and preparation. It also demands higher sanitization and specialized care in some cases. Apart from that, fresh food spoils more quickly – so it doesn’t stay eatable for more than a day or two (most of the time).
Kibble does not have this problem. It is time-efficient because it doesn’t need preparation or care. A bag of dry food can be placed anywhere and last months (depending on the expiration date).
And what’s even more critical — serving kibble is a piece of cake – which adds to its convenience level. So, of course, kibble is the most practical option of the two. And it saves a lot of time and effort.
Dogs need to have constant use of their teeth so they can keep them healthy. Otherwise, teeth start to form plaque and slowly build-up to the point of damaging the gums and hurting. And that can be awful for dogs – especially small ones.
That’s why it is so crucial for the food to be healthy for teeth. And that’s why dry kibble is usually the best one at keeping dog’s teeth safe. This happens because dry food doesn’t stay in between their teeth too often, and it is often easier to bite and chew, which adds up to healthier teeth.
Raw food is not necessarily worse. But it doesn’t offer the same chewing advantage. And it may end up producing more plaque if the dog’s mouth is not cleaned often. That can be both annoying and dangerous for the dog.
So, obviously, dry food is the better choice here. It is mainly produced to promote proper dog’s dental health.
In contrast with dental health, digestive health usually goes to the side of raw food. This happens because raw meats and sometimes veggies contain unique enzymes that are necessary for the dog’s digestive system.
So these enzymes help in many processes, from digesting the food to keeping their stools more consistent and at the right size, texture, and composition. Of course, this happens when the raw diet is healthy as well.
While raw food is probably better for intestinal health, this doesn’t necessarily mean that dry foods are bad. In fact, you could even say that dry food is better in different scenarios.
For example, kibble doesn’t contain the same natural enzymes that a dog needs to digest food rapidly and safely. But a quality-produced dry food brand can contain other nutrients and ingredients that promote fast and healthy digestibility.
On the other hand, they keep stools consistent as well – yet dry food may be slightly challenging to process in the stomach because of the high-calorie content it has. But that only happens when dogs are fed too much.
So if it is safe to say that both perform well at keeping the digestive system working well, but thanks to the unique natural enzymes of raw food, it is slightly better.
What are the possible health risks of a dog eating raw food vs kibble? Well, there aren’t many really.
Raw foods may contain many dangerous diseases like salmonella, E-coli, listeria, campylobacter, and similar ones. These are diseases that can possibly affect dogs. But even if they don’t, these bacteria can travel directly to their owners.
And raw foods that spoil down tend to produce even twice the bacteria in the food. So they may end up creating a wide array of symptoms, including fever, kidney, liver, and stomach issues.
With kibble food, this doesn’t happen. While there are still some dangers like constipation, inflammation, kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and sometimes even allergies – these dangers often happen with low-quality kibble foods that barely meet pet food regulations.
So, sure enough, kibble is the less risky of the two.
What are probably toxins that you may find in raw food and dry food? That’s yet another critical aspect to think about before making your final choice.
Here, you will find that both types of food have their own set of toxins. But because raw foods undergo fewer sanitization processes, they are often the most toxic.
For example, bacteria like E. Coli and salmonella are pretty common in raw foods. They tend to contaminate while the carcasses and residues from animals are left to decompose.
Most of these slaughtered animals and even vegetables have drugs such as pentobarbital and Penicillin in the meat. These drugs are not too dangerous in low doses for humans, but most dogs can be damaged by then if the meat is not processed correctly.
As for vegetables, the same tends to happen but with pesticides and herbicides. Some residues may stay on these foods and eventually pass on to the dog by mistake – which could cause sickness as well.
Grains may also come with mold and fungi. And these may be slightly dangerous for dogs as well. Some types of canned foods contain these – and they can cause diseases if not treated properly.
Kibble, on the other hand, usually contains preservatives and some mycotoxins from grains. Yet, you may also find GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that are not unsafe but can cause problems with kidneys and livers.
The same happens with acrylamides and MRPs. These are compounds that form when dry food with vegetables and grains is cooked at high temperatures. And they can cause cancer.
While both have their possible levels of toxicity, these toxins are less likely to cause harm in kibble. This happens because kibble goes under several tests before it is sold. Raw food, on the other hand, does not – so it is more likely to hold some of its toxins.
Last but not least, you need to consider how affordable raw food is when compared to kibble – or vice versa.
We can safely say that the price is not necessarily a predictor of quality when it comes to food. In fact, raw foods can be way more expensive than kibble but still provide less nutritional value.
A kilogram bag of kibble, for example, can be half as expensive as a kilogram of meat. Yet, it is more nutritious because it contains more ingredients, which means a higher amount of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients overall.
One kilogram of meat is not necessarily bad, but you will still need to supplement the extra nutrients using other ingredients like vegetables and/or grains. And that can be extremely costly – way more than any bag of dry food.
Within kibble foods, however, the price fluctuates a lot. And of course, price is indeed a factor that tells the quality products from the worse ones. The more expensive a dry food bag is, the more likely that it is healthier and more nutritious.
But raw food, overall, is more expensive than kibble, especially in the long term. And even if you get a premium kibble brand, you may end up saving more money than giving a raw-food only diet.
Raw Dog food vs Kibble: Which One to Choose?
After learning almost everything, there’s to know about kibble vs raw dog food – you’re probably wondering about which one to choose.
Well, that depends heavily on your needs. But we totally recommend kibble over any type of raw food.
Because it undergoes safer production and delivers higher nutritional value with more calories, it is the way to go at first. Not only that, but kibble also saves a lot of time in preparation – and it doesn’t spoil as fast a raw food does. So it ends up being more practical as well.
Raw food is expensive, tends to contain more possible toxins, and can make dogs prone to diseases. But it offers the natural enzymes that dogs need, and they usually love it better because of the taste.
Overall, however, kibble wins the race. Unless you’re willing to expose yourself to the extra time, spending, and diseases that raw food means – then go for it. Otherwise, kibble is your best bet.