Leading on from Friday’s post: The Husky Diet: Kibble Vs. Raw Food Vs. Home Cooked, today we’re going to take a closer look at kibble.
Kibble is creating by essentially baking or extruding food. The kibble is made using the same machines that make puffed breakfast cereals such as rice krispies. Raw dry and wet ingredients are mixed together to create a dough, which is then baked using boiling water, steam and high pressure. The dough is then forced through holes and cut in to kibble sized pieces with a knife. The bite sized chunks are then dried off to remove any remaining moisture. Finally the kibble is fortified with oils, vitamins and minerals.
While the kibble diet is very convenient to feed, during the manufacturing process of the kibble, some of its nutritional quality can be lost. Cooking denatures proteins and collagen, can destroy important nutrients, and generally makes the food less digestible and less bio-available to animals.
Who Is AAFCO?
The most common reason for people to feed a kibble based diet is for convenience and that they have a belief in the promise made by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) that a food is nutritionally “complete” for your pet. The AAFCO approval is the “Golden Seal” of quality when it comes to pet foods. AAFCO standards and nutrient profiles were established through collaboration between scientific experts in the industry, in academia (such as universities), and in the regulatory commission (National Research Commission, or NRC).
The problem with AFFCO’s reasoning is that different breeds of dogs have different nutritional requirements. So making a statement about any one food, that it’s “nutritionally complete” is inaccurate.
To date, there are no scientific studies to verify the claims.
Why AAFCO Standards May Be Misleading
AAFCO base their “complete and balanced” claim on the basis that dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat both animals and plants. We already know that Huskies and Malamutes develop problems when fed diets that use wheat, corn, or soy as their main source of carbohydrate. The other inaccuracy with AAFCO’s standards is that it uses a small sampling as their “proof”, and this alone would make their results questionable.
How Much Do You Know About The AAFCO Trials of Testing?
What I find most concerning is the standards of the trials in order to earn the “balanced and complete” badge. They consist of roughly 8 dogs being fed a diet, for a period of only 6 months. To pass the dogs must lose no more than 15% of their body weight. As you can imagine, is a dog has lost 15% of its body weight in 6 months, imagine what that could mean further down the road, the long term implications are not clear at all.
It appears as far as AFFCO is concerned, as long as the dog appears healthy and hasn’t become emaciated, then it passes. This is particularly fortunate for the dog food manufacturers that stuff their dog foods full of junk.
Please do not depend on AAFCO to tell you what kibble is best to feed to your dog. Become an informed label reader. Get into the habit of reading ingredient labels on food bags. Learn what the nutritional differences are between meat by-product and whole meats. Do not be swayed by high pressure advertising from dog food companies. Far too often dog food ads center around companies declaring to you how much they care about the health of your dog. Sadly, as evidenced by the low nutritional quality of their ingredients, the greater truth is what many food companies care about most is increasing their own profit margins. Did you know that according to AAFCO’s own standards animal by-products in pet food may include parts obtained from any animals which have died from sickness or disease provided they are rendered in accordance to law?
One of our aims at Snowdog Guru, is to review and highlight the best foods for your husky and malamutes. Owners often think that they can cut corners when it comes to feeding their dogs. Unfortunately, the only way a company can manufacture inexpensive food is to use cheap quality and inexpensive ingredients in their food. Inexpensive food often uses corn as their first and most prolific ingredient as well as animal by-product as their protein source. The quality of the protein in animal by-product is very poor and will eventually take its toll on your dog’s health. Feeding foods with cheap sources of carbohydrate (wheat, corn or soy) is the main cause for food allergies in dogs. What you might save initially on food costs will be spent ten fold on vet visits as he tries to fix the unending medical problems caused by feeding poor quality foods.
How China Forever Changed The Face Of The Pet Food Industry
In 2007, the first of many dog food recalls occurred. Many companies’ foods were involved. The common denominator for the deadly food was found to be protein sources that were processed in China. Sadly, many dog food manufacturers, in an effort to cut their costs and boost their profit margins, imported and used this Chinese processed protein base in the manufacturing of their kibble. Many pets died or became gravely ill from what we can only speculate was from Melamine added to the food processing procedure. Low end and mid level quality pet food producers are still using food stuffs made in China despite China’s poor track record for being able to guarantee any kind of quality control in their manufacturing processes. As a direct result of the tainted dog food issues, some dog owners have a hard time trusting food manufacturers and opt to feed the dogs a raw or home cooked diet.
There are pet owners who still wish to feed a kibble diet but are concerned with a seemingly never ending amount of pet food recalls still occurring. These days many savvy consumers have looked to buy their food from pet food manufacturers that guarantee that they use no foods stuffs processed in China and who use foods that are more wholesome and nutritious for their pets.
Are All Brands of Kibble Bad Quality?
No, not at all. There are some dog food manufacturers that have taken it upon themselves to bring the standard of their food well above AAFCO standards. In an effort to produce high quality safe pet foods, these companies have voluntarily produced five star rated foods using only human grade sources of protein, alternative sources of complex carbohydrates, and many natural sources for vitamins and minerals. Above all, they use no chemical preservatives in their foods. The superior quality of their ingredients is certainly reflected in the price of these foods making these foods more both more expensive to produce and more expensive for us to buy.
However, as often happens with good quality foods, the amount that you feed of these foods is less than with traditionally less expensive foods that are made with grain as fillers. So while you may pay more initially for the better quality food, you do feed less of the food and that helps to bring the cost of the food down. When you feed cheaper kibble your dog has to be fed higher quantities of that food to be able to get the adequate amount of nutrition for its body. So very often this higher food consumption results in dogs becoming over weight while still not having adequate nutrition to keep them healthy.
To see how a particular kibble brand measures up, you can go to DogFoodAdvisor.com or AllAboutDogFood.co.uk (for you folks in the U.K) and see a break down of the ingredients and an evaluation of the quality of a food’s ingredients. If you find that the kibble diet that you have been feeding is not as nutritionally complete as you would have hoped for please consider switching your kibble for a higher quality food.
High quality brands such as Orijen, Acana, Blue Buffalo, Wellness, Innova and others can offer your dog a good quality diet in a convenient kibble format.
Where to buy?
- Orijen Adult Dog Food – Orijen Adult Dog Food 15 lb (US)
- Orijen Whole Prey Dog Adult 6 Fish 6.8kg (UK)
Tomorrow, make sure you stop by to read Part 3 of the Husky Diet series, The Raw Food and Cooked Diet.
As always we welcome your comments, questions, and stories for it is when we share our stories that we might be able to help someone who is struggling.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs …. one owner at a time.