This may seem fairly logical at first glance. After all, there are some rather high-quality foods on the market like Timberwolf Organics, Innova EVO, Nature's Variety, and Solid Gold. Whole Dog Journal regularly publishes a list of the top 20 commercial foods that includes some top brands from smaller companies. All the health problems associated with commercial food are related to lower quality, 'supermarket' brand kibbles, right? Besides, the pet food industry has been taking steps forward in terms of pet nutrition, haven't they? There is a good variety of healthy, 'premium' kibbles on the market, and feeding one of these to our pets does reap certain benefits when compared to their cheaper-fed counterparts (feed less food, smaller stool size, better coats, better energy, etc.). Granted, if you feed a premium kibble then you are feeding your pet a better quality food, but could your pet be fed even better food for cheaper? Is a premium kibble an appropriate food for your pets?
There are several high-quality kibbles on the market today, but there are still several significant issues that set raw diets apart from these premium kibbles. Let us look at several of the issues posed by premium kibbles.
1.) It is still a processed food. This means it has
still been rendered, overly cooked, overly processed, and still has
artificial vitamins and supplements added to it. Despite the claims of
what went into this food at the start, this means the ingredients are
still of a poorer quality when compared to fresh, whole, raw foods, and
that problems associated with artificial vitamins and minerals still
exist: erratic growth patterns, growth occurring too fast, the body not
utilizing the nutrients as well, etc. While the better quality foods
certainly do start with better materials, after processing these 'food'
materials are still of a lesser quality compared to the fresh, raw,
2.) It still is an unnatural food for our pets. Our
dogs and cats are not designed to eat processed food pellets regardless
of how good of quality these processed food pellets are. A premium
kibble would be like us eating a 'premium' cereal day in and day out;
the premium cereal has to be better for us than one of those cheaper
cereals, right (think of Raisin Bran versus Captain Crunch)?
3.) Premium kibbles still have a bunch of ingredients
our pets do not need and/or cannot utilize. Many premium kibbles
contain a relatively small amount of meat (usually from 'human quality'
sources, but then it is rendered into an unrecognizable 'foodstuff')
even if meat is listed as the first ingredient, because the rest of the
ingredients combined far outweigh the presence of the meat our
carnivores need (remember, meat, unless it says 'meat meal', is listed
according to its wet weight. When all that water has been cooked out of
it, meat places considerably further down on the ingredients list).
Just read some of the labels. Some sort of meat will be listed, but it
is then followed by all sorts of grains that are usually touted as more
highly digestible than corn or wheat (rice, oats, barley, millet,
etc.), vegetables (yams, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.),
fruits (apples, pears, etc.) and supplements (kelp powder, spirulina,
lactobacillus bacteria, etc.), not to mention all the artificial
vitamins and minerals that need to be added. Of course, the presence of
the vegetables, fruits, and supplements theoretically means that less
artificial vitamins and minerals can be added because the nutrients can
be obtained from natural sources, but how many of these natural sources
are actually available to the dog or cat? How much of these natural
nutrients are destroyed and rendered ineffective by the cooking
process? Even with foods like EVO that contain a high proportion of
meat and no grain (it uses potatoes, which are starchy and metabolize
as such), the processed meat still is inferior to the fresh, real
thing. Think of a processed, cooked orange versus a fresh, whole
orange. Which one is better?
4.) The issue of periodontal disease still prevails.
The pet still does not get the beneficial, necessary teeth cleaning at
each meal, so the problem of a bacteria-laden mouth that stinks and
provides a gateway for bacteria, toxins, and collagenases to enter the
body still exists. This is, after all, one of the best and biggest
reasons to feed a raw diet with meaty bones.
5.) The animal still lacks the wonderful and necessary
physical, mental, and emotional workout provided by raw meaty bones.
Although it is being fed a premium kibble, your pet can undoubtedly
still finish its meal in record time, rather than having to work at its
food for a half an hour or more. Again, this translates to the body not
being fully prepared to receive food and digest it, so the food will
just sit in the animal's stomach until the parasympathetic nervous
system kicks everything into gear.
6.) Premium kibbles are often more expensive that
natural, fresh, raw food. If you are dishing out that much money for a
'premium' processed pet food, why not feed fresh, whole, raw food
sources for less?
7.) You still have no control over what goes into your
pet's body. Can you be certain that what is on the ingredients list is
what actually enters your pet's body? Can you be certain of the quality
of the ingredients? What happened to these ingredients during the
8.) The primary question still remains: how is a
processed pet food better for our animals than fresh, whole, raw foods?
It is for these reasons (and I am sure there are other reasons as well) that many raw feeders consider premium kibbles a waste of money. This includes those so-called 'therapeutic diets' available only through veterinarians. The pet food industry and veterinary community simply developed another artificial food to cover up and 'fix' the problems created by other commercial, artificial pet foods. Why not treat the problems at their source (could it have anything to do with money, perhaps? Remember, veterinarians can pocket up to 40% of the profits from selling kibbles like Hill's Science Diet [Parker-Pope, T. 1997. For You, My Pet. The Wall Street Journal. 3 November 1997. In Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. p266].)? In this respect, the pet food companies and the veterinary community have drastically missed the mark, and it is our pets that must suffer for it. What sense does it make to simply switch an ailing pet onto another commercial, artificial pet food when similar foods caused the problems it was having in the first place?
With the growing number of food allergies pet have, the pet food industry has been becoming more and more creative, trying to find new protein and grain sources to make new 'hypoallergenic' kibbles. Have they even once considered WHY the pets were having allergy problems to the ingredients in their foods to begin with (Probably. But will they tell us that they know why? Probably not. Where's the profit in that?)? Ironically enough, pets switched to a raw diet can often eat the same meats that caused their allergies originally, because the meats are raw and not cooked (Clark, W.R. 1995. Hypersensitivity and Allergy, in At War Within: The double edged sword of immunity, Oxford University Press, New York. pg 88.). The cooking process changes the protein structures, and it is these changed, cooked proteins to which the body has an allergic reaction.
If you feed a premium kibble (or any kibble), please think through why you feed it to your pets. Could they benefit more from a raw diet? And ask the ultimate question: how is a processed diet better for my pets than a diet of fresh, whole, raw foods?