What should we feed our dogs? Raw vs Kibble

Almost every aspect of owning a dog has a debate about it. From how you train your dog to how you feed them, not everyone agrees. One of the most passionate debates out there is what you should feed your dog.

My Labrador, Bowie had been on a kibble diet since he was a pup, until about 4 months ago when I transitioned him to a raw based diet. He was 2.5 years old then. I switched his diet because I read good things about raw feeding and I would like to see how Bowie responded to raw diet. He was on a good quality grain free kibble before I transitioned him and wasn’t unfamiliar with chewing raw bones.

There are so many information about raw feeding and how to create home-made raw dog food (BARF). However as first time dog owner and a non canine nutritionist, I don’t have much knowledge or experience with preparing my own. So I decided to source a commercial good quality raw dog food and use that as Bowie’s main base diet and add to it. At least I know he will get the basic nutrition he needs.

Here are our experience with raw diet vs kibble:

Bowie’s poop are noticeably less, smaller and less stinky.
Raw-fed dogs will generally digest about 90–95% of the food – so you won’t see much of it in the poop afterwards! The larger the dog poop, the less food is being digested. That’s why some commercial kibbles cause big stinky poop – they use indigestible fillers such as corn, wheat, rice, soy, potato and animal by-product meals. These ingredients are added as a cheap way to boost protein percentages but are often poor quality and definitely not needed by our dogs. Pay special attention to the first five or six ingredients on your dog dry food as they are the most abundant in that food. The first and second ingredients should be the main protein and actual meat source, not fillers or animal by-products. Bowie’s poop were slightly less when he was on a grain free kibble diet compared to the normal kibble of the same brand.

Bowie drinks much less water.
Apparently it’s normal! Dogs on a raw food diet drink less water than dogs eating an entirely processed diet because there’s so much moisture in their food already, and they don’t need to drink water to moisten the kibble to pass through their digestive tract better.

Stinky breath no more.
I think Bowie’s got the best teeth I’ve ever seen in a dog, even the vet says so! Chewing those raw meaty bones must have helped clean his teeth, hence no more stinky breath, plus they keep him busy and entertained for hours. If you’d like to give bones to your dog, make sure they’re not cooked and keep an eye on your dog while he’s chewing especially for the first time.

No more smelly farty bum.
Since switching to raw food diet, Bowie hasn’t been farting – there must be some ingredients in his kibble that made him flatulent.

Bowie’s coat is shinier.
Apparently it’s an indicator of good health.

He’s a lean machine now.
I notice that his body shape is leaner and sleeker, and he’s on his best and most stable weight he’s ever been. Raw diet has high protein, no grains and no overabundance of carbs which will help our dogs to reach and maintain a healthy weight and metabolism. Raw diet is also easily and more completely digestible which means your dog will absorb all the good nutrition and gives them more energy. Lean dogs live longer, have stronger immune system and lower blood pressure.

Okay, it seems to be all the more reasons to switch to raw diet, but here are some of the cons:

  • It’s expensive – it costs more than the average premium kibble brands.
  • Time consuming if you prepare your own BARF, and can be a challenge if you have a busy lifestyle.
  • If you’re not a canine nutritionist and making your own, you’re running a risk of not providing a balanced diet for your dog. You can easily do more damage to your dog than any good.
  • Risk of contamination – raw meat can contain harmful bacteria including E. coli and salmonella.

If you decide to switch to raw diet, there are 3 options of raw feeding:

A lot of work and research to prepare a balanced diet for your dog. Risk of contamination. Cheaper than store-bought.
Read more about pros and cons of home-made vs store-bought.
If home-made is for you, try these 5 simple recipes.
More convenient. Need a lot of freezer space to store.Freeze-dried is basically removing the moisture from the food, without removing the nutritional value. To serve, you simply run it under warm water to rehydrate it. It’s convenient, easier to store and more shelf-stable.

In our case, freeze dried is our go-to option and I use that as Bowie’s main base diet and add to it. To add variety to his diet and to save $$, I often mix his meal with home-made meat patties, fruits and veggies, eggs, sardines, grain free wet food and whatever we cook for the day (that he can have of course).

So, what should we feed our dogs? Raw or Kibble? The answer is there’s no answer. It’s your choice and decision – you have to weigh in the pros and the cons, and what works the best for you and your dog. There are good quality affordable kibble brands out there that I won’t hesitate to use myself, and I know people who feed their dogs both kibbles and BARF (not at the same time). Food is only one element to make a healthy and happy dog – they also need their training, exercises, play time and bonding time with you.

Best of luck,
Riesa & Bowie

More reference on raw feeding

  • Raw Proof – A 24-month research investigation into a species-appropriate diet for dogs
  • 9 Tips For Starting Your Puppy On A Raw Diet

What’s really in your pet food? Use this link to find out.