Healthy looking cats and dogs are usually featured in pet kibble commercials. Are these truly living up to their claims? Kibbles are convenient for pet owners. These can be easily poured into a bowl and voila! An instant meal for beloved pet. However, this food option is not the only thing that has been receiving some attention lately. Raw food advocates are now insisting that pets should go back to their ancient roots and pet owners are better off ditching kibbles.
Ingredients found in kibbles are varied depending on who’s manufacturing it and on its targeted market. These are usually a combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. High quality kibbles have higher protein content compared to low quality counterparts.
So which ingredients will likely make up most of it? Ingredients are usually arranged according to quantity. The first five ingredients make up most of the weight in kibbles so it’s worth taking a look at these. However, some producers will not be very particular when it comes to labelling these.
Meat could also mean a combination of everything in between coming from an animal carcass. Some of these could be considered by-products such as chicken necks, feet and intestines. Protein enhancers such as green peas and chick peas could also be added as extenders. Some manufacturers are also labelling their products as human grade or organic. Other ingredients may include corn, soybean meal, whole vegetables, grains, and several types of protein sources such as pork, lamb and beef.
As its name implies, raw food diet consists of raw meat, fruits and vegetables depending on type of pet and breed. Its popularity stemmed with the theory that animals left in the wild eat raw food. Since pets come from a wild descent, then human owners are supposed to mimic their original diet.
Cats and dogs are classified as carnivores. Veterinarians are saying that dogs are omnivores though. Choice ingredients will basically depend upon the discretion of the owner. Ideally, this should not be more than 2% of a dog’s body weight or 3% for cats. The good thing about raw diet is that there are several options that could now be found in supermarkets and these can be stored in the fridge. The tricky part is ruling out which foods to take out on a pet’s diet when this exhibits symptoms of allergy.
The Big Debate
So which one is better? Both diets have their own pros and cons. Here’s an in-depth comparison between kibbles and raw diet.
- Nutritional Benefits. Kibbles are cooked in very high heat. This dehydrates the food of liquid which allows it to be stored for extended periods. The problem with this type of food preparation is pet nutrition could be compromised just like when vegetables are overcooked. On the other hand, raw diet gets to retain all the nutrients found in these.
- Preparation time. Commercialized food saves human owner time when it comes to food preparation since these are already cooked. While raw diet may not take up any cooking time, one may still need to thaw this and wait for several minutes before it’s soft enough for pet to chew on.
- Cost. Both could be cheap or costly depending on chosen brands or foods. Kibbles that are labelled of good quality will be more expensive than low quality kibbles. The same can also be said about raw food diet. If one chooses to serve pet with lean pork meat instead of chicken wings, then expect to spend more on pet food.
- Calories. Excess caloric intake is one of the leading causes of pet obesity. Commercial pet foods are often compared to fast-food because these are calorie dense. Raw food diet poses lesser risk since owners have the ability to choose healthier food options for pets.
- Ingredients. With kibbles, owners will have no way of telling about their real quality. Although some meat products are considered good for animal consumption, by-products are still considered not as healthy as lean meat. Those who prepare their own pet food on the other hand can choose the quality of ingredients for pets.
- Health concerns. Although there is still not enough evidence supporting that raw diet is indeed a better option for pets, there are surveys conducted where owners reportedly claimed that their feline or canine companions turned out healthy. Kibbles are now controversial because of the carcinogens found in these which are now raising pet health issues.
The Real Better Option
As seen from above, most of these would point that raw diet is the better option for pets. However, many veterinarians are still encouraging the consumption of processed food due to the convincing nutritional benefits provided by manufacturers.
Raw food diet on the other hand is not widely popularized through media commercials. This is only supported by the testimonies of breeders and pet owners.
In comparison, pet food companies can sell pet food products made from food by-products through their available resources. Moreover, manufacturers fail to disclose some of the dangerous ingredients found in these.
But just like kibbles, raw diet can also be a two-edged sword. Meat and green produce found in supermarkets can also be laden with pesticides and fertilizers. Owners are encouraged to buy only organic produce. Just as choosing the ingredient is important, careful food preparation should also be observed. Raw diet can put pet at the risk of Salmonella infection when food is contaminated.
Aside from processed foods and raw diet, owners can also choose to feed their pet cooked food. This reduces the common risks associated with both of the aforementioned diet options. The cooking process will kill bacteria present in raw food while being able to retain most of its nutritional benefits that would have been lost in kibble processing.
For those who want to still feed their cats or dogs come kibbles, choose high quality kibbles instead and combine this with unprocessed food just like fast foods should not become a human’s daily diet.