The Truth About Commercial Dog Food

November 16, 2020 5 min read

Cocker Spaniel Dog Eating Dry Commercial Dog Food From Green Bowl

The pet food industry has been an integral part of our dog’s lives for the past century, much so that new pet owners have automatically defaulted to kibble as standard dog food for their new furry friends. Upon deeper research, anyone can see how the pet food industry has continuously increased its own profit at the expense of your dog. Our furry friends depend on us to help them live long and healthy lives.

Dog Food History: When Was Dog Food Invented?

Walk into any pet smart and you’ll see rows after rows of dry and wet dog food filling shelves to the rim. What did dogs eat before dog food? 

Surprisingly, wet dog food has only been around since 1860. The first canned wet products that hit the market were actually made from horses and were such a huge success that the company went on to breed horses just for their brand of dog food. 

During the World Wars in 1956, the increased demand for metal forced companies to develop kibble, dry dog food that can be stored in plastic. Since the introduction of processed dog food, kibble companies have marketed to the average person that this was the proper meal to feed our dogs. This slowly embedded dog food as a must-have for every pet owner.

Prior to this pet food industry boom, dogs were scavengers, eating anything and everything they can get their hands on. 


Why Is Dog Food Bad For Dogs? 

Doesn’t it seem like dog food has been around forever? The truth about commercial dog food is that a lot of it is based on business. What goes in your dog’s meal, how it’s manufactured, and how it’s marketed all goes back to how all these dog food companies are competing to be in your shopping cart. But what exactlyarewe putting into our carts? Let’s dive a little deeper into what our dry dog food is actually made of.

1. Ingredient Transparency

On the packaging of leading pet food brands, you will see a breakdown of nutrients from protein, fat, vitamins… etc. However, what they fail to mention is what dog food is made up of and what their nutrition really comes from. 

For example,the word ‘protein’ signals healthy ingredients, a little bit of research will tell you the word ‘protein’ is incredibly misleading. Rather than quality meats, pet food companies can source their protein from animals that have beendiseased, euthanized, pumped up with antibiotics, fish that are high in mercury, and so on — none of which is stated anywhere. These ingredients used to manufacture your dog food is considered feed grade, unsuitable for human ingestion but okay for dogs? 

We should feed our dogs, what is biologically appropriate for them.


2. Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrients are as essential to our dogs as they are to humans. We all need a good balance of nutrients to carry out our daily functions. It’s essential that our dogs have that same balance, but the question lies in how much nutrients are actually in kibble?

The process of creating kibble requires a high heat rendering process to kill bacteria and sanitizing otherwise inedible food. However, the high heat required also strips away naturally occurring nutrients that are present in natural foods. 

AFFCO has standards for pet food. To make up for nutrients that have been stripped away, companies add synthetic (chemically made) vitamins back into their kibble mixtures to meet AFFCO standards.

Naturally occurring nutrients are part of processes that support systems like circulatory activities. Synthetic vitamins on the other hand weren’t part of any process and our pets aren’t able to absorb these vitamins to its full extent like they do in naturally occurring nutrients.

3. Carbohydrates

On almost every food package, you’ll find a protein and fat breakdown.But, what fills the other 60- 70% of our dog food? 

Carbs. As hoomans, we love carbs! Our pups on the other hand… might not enjoy heaping servings of carbs. To put it simply, carbs are cheap filler ingredients to keep pups filled up and give dog food structure and texture. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for dietary carbohydrates; they can be perfectly healthy on a protein and fat diet.

Related:Keto For Dogs


4. Hydration

Natural dog diets are full of water, in fact 60- 75% of fresh foods are made of water. When feeding your pup dried dog food, we are putting our furry friends in a constant state of dehydration. Dry foods are only 5-10% moisture. To digest these dry foods, our pups must soften these foods on their own first, drawing moisture from the kidneys, skin, and even the liver, causing our pups to not only be dehydrated, but can also cause a variety of other health issues.


Pet Food Recalls

Recall stamp for unsafe commercial food and products

Since 2009, there has been192 pet food recalls, with over 70% being can and kibble dog food. Some brands are repeatedly on lists for recalls ranging from salmonella to bacterial infections. If these numbers aren’t scary enough, pet food companies have a whopping three whole weeks before they have to report contamination to the FDA.Meaning that after they find out they have a bad batch of dog food, pet stores can continue selling their products for three entire weeks. 


Why Vets Recommend Can and Kibble Food 

We love our vets! They’re there for our pets through thick and thin and we have learned to depend on their expert opinions. Little do we know, many courses atvet schools are actually sponsored by large pet corporations eager to ‘educate’ the new generation of vets on their own products. By doing so, they are expanding their own market share, and creating well-versed vets in their own dog food options, benefiting large companies in the long run. 

 However, there are more and more holistic vets that can help you on your raw food journey. Even traditional vets are mixing their practice with medicine to integrate more holistic practices.

We Recommend: Holistic Vets In CA 


Where’s the Research?

Research on pet food nutrition, the lack of, all cost money. Money that no one wants to shell out except for large commercial pet food companies. These companies are dry dog food brands that fund research that support kibble. 

Unfortunately, this leaves us, pet owners, in charge of making sure our pet is able to get the best nutrients possible with the information we have. Until more companies or the FDA are willing to invest in more research, we will continue to remain in the dark of the in-depth, long term effects of processed dog food. 


Feed Better & Fresher Food

So it turns out the truth about 99% of dog food isn’t that great. What now? Explore other options! The most important thing you can do for your furry friend is to be educated. Luckily for us pet parents, it’s getting easier and easier to learn the truth about dog food. Some great resources are keeping up with blog posts like these and watching great documentaries like Pet Fooled. 

Pet food companies have spent the last decade integrating themselves in the pet food industry as the only option to feeding our dogs, so of course, it’s going to take a lot to help fellow pet owners learn about better options. 

Raw food companies, like Cali Raw, are considered a commercial pet food brand but without the flaws of kibble practices. Raw dog food provides our pups with what they need. Since it’s biologically appropriate, dogs benefit the most and will receive more complete and balance nutrition than kibble can provide. No extra carbs needed! 

Let’s do our best to stand by our pups and help them live a long and happy life.

Check out:Kibble Vs. Cooked Vs. Raw