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Why I Don’t Feed Kibble To My Own Dogs

  • April 7, 2020
  • By MaggieLovesOrbit.com
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Why I Don’t Feed Kibble To My Own Dogs

I write this article as a dog mom. I’m not a vet. I’m not a nutritionist.

What I am is a concerned dog owner who is keen on knowing what goes into the food my dogs eat.

This is very personal decision and won’t be the easiest read for some. But I feel that it’s important to share the risks when feeding kibble so that you can be informed as you make your own decision as to what to feed your own dogs.

I stopped feeding my dogs kibble several years ago because of the unsavory ingredients that can legally be used in dog food as a source of protein. I have a problem that diseased cattle and horses, dead zoo animals, road kill and generally meat not fit for human consumption can be rendered and be part of the raw material that goes into dog food.

There are even cases were euthanized dogs and cats get mixed into the rendering. I’ll go into that later.

is-kibble-bad

The Rendering Process – What Is It Exactly?

When you look at your bag of chow or kibble, often times they show cuts of beef, chicken, lamb or pork.

Some might think that dog companies take these cuts they show to cook in a fancy dog food kitchen.

But it doesn’t really work like that.

The starting place for most dog food ingredients is at rendering plants.

Rendering plants cook and grind raw animal products into more useful materials, or more narrowly, into purified fats like lard or tallow.

It takes raw animal products and grinds it all in huge vats.

This animal product is then cooked at temperatures between 220 and 270 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour.

This mixture is then spun a a very high speed.

The grease rises to the top. This is the tallow. And it is removed from the mixture. This becomes the animal fat in most pet foods.

The remaining material after the grease is removed is dried and becomes meat meal or meat and bone meal.

This dried material is what is used in dog food.

So what’s the problem you say?  Well stay with me we’ll need to go a step backwards.

What Meat Exactly Goes Into the Rendering Plants

Anything that we don’t consume goes to the rendering plants.

This is great news for a rancher that sells meat to restaurants and groceries because now they have a place to send parts of say the cow we don’t eat.

But the problem is that in addition to what we don’t consume, any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.

Also slaughterhouse denature animal parts that we don’t consume.

Denaturing is when workers spray crude carbolic acid, cresylic disinfectant or citronella on the animal parts that they send to the rendering plant that will become pet food product.

And so meat that is sent to rendering plants are not only from unsavory parts, they also have toxic agents in them.

The Ingredients That Come From Rendering Plants

Here are a few examples of what comes out of the rendering process.  This is what is sent to dog food companies as raw material.

Beef and beef meal

The rendered product from beef tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

A byproduct made from beef parts which are not suitable for human consumption. It can incorporate the entire cow, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed. This is an inexpensive, low quality ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.

Chicken byproduct meal

Consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines — exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

Chicken byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than the chicken muscle meat.The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent.

Pork meal

The rendered product from pork tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, skin, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

A byproduct made from pork parts which are not suitable for human consumption. It can incorporate the entire pig, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed. This is an inexpensive, low quality ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.

Meat and bone meal

The rendered product from mammal tissues, with or without bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on. It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.

Meat meal

The rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on. It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.

Liver meal

The dried product of ground hepatic glands of mammals.

Whenever the word ‘meat’ or the name of an organ appear by themselves (without a species) on a pet food label, there is no way to know which kind of animal it came from. It could be horse liver, goat, duck, pig, or even skunk or other animals of questionable origin.

You can learn more about the ingredients on: The Dog Food Project – Ingredients to avoid

Are Dogs and Cats Rendered?

Yes. Because that’s where euthanized dogs and cats go from shelters and veterinary clinics.

Are Dogs and Cats Used For Pet Products

Officially no.

Pet food companies ask rendering plants to not to send them raw material that includes pets.

Pets that are rendered are classified as tankage and instead destined for shrimp and fish food in China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

However sometimes there are cases when euthanized pets get mixed up with other raw material and get sent to pet food companies to be used in pet food.

How do we know this? Although rendering effectively kills off any beneficial enzymes, it does not get rid of the sodium phenobarbital in the carcasses of euthanized animals.

So if a dog or cat food tests positive for sodium phenobarbital it’s because it has euthanized pets in the mix.

No One Tests The Sources of Protein

The challenge I have with the rendering process is that there isn’t a process in place to routinely conduct a test to determine the sources of protein being used in the meat meal they purchase.

And even before that – there isn’t a test or certification in place to assure us that from the ground up the meat that is cooked in the vat is what it claims to be “before” it is cooked.

What About DNA tests?

The heat that is used for rendering destroys any DNA in the process. That’s why it’s difficult to test if a dog or cat was part of the batch cooked that ends up being meat meal.

The only way to do this is the test is done “before” the cooking process but in my research there currently isn’t any kind of testing by a government agency or food manufacturer to certify ingredients before it is rendered.

Let’s assume for a second … that rendering plants do not include the 4Ds in the vat nor do they include companion animals. Would that mean that kibble is good?

Most of the nutrients are lost in the high heat process

When meat is cooked at 220 – 270 degrees – most of the nutrients are lost.

This raw material actually needs to be fortified to have any semblance of food again.

Kibble companies take this raw material, add back synthetic nutrients to make those hard brown balls that they pass off as dog food.

They spray the kibble with flavoring agents to make it appealing to dogs.

One way I look at dog food is the same way I look at dehydrated camping food. Sure it can pass off as food but it’s not something to feed every single day for the whole life of the dog.

You’re Only As Good As the Food You Can Absorb

Here’s an experiment. Take some kibble and pound it up in a pestle. Add water. What happens is you get a dry powder that when soaked and becomes dry again looks puffier than how it started.

It’s been hypothesized that dogs are only asborbing about 30% of the food in kibble which is why their poops are so big and puffy.

Kibble Fed Dogs Are Thirsty

Kibble needs to be hydrated to be digested.

Most kibble fed dogs lap up what seems to be an exorbitant amount of water even if they have not been exercising.

This is because they have to drink a ton of water in order for the food to be broken down and digested.

Kibble Poo

I can tell what a dog eats based on their poo.

Kibble poo looks puffy. And Kibble fed dogs poo several times a day.

Kibble poo looks that way since water has puffed it up and since it has a lot of fillers, the dog poops it out.

And cheap kibble smells stinky

Some brands like Blue Buffalo started to add additives so that the poo wouldn’t smell as much.

They even ran a marketing slogan the proof is in the poo.

Dog owners thought – wow this must be great food because my dog doesn’t poo as much and it doesn’t smell.

Fresh Food Means Less Water and Smaller Poo

Your dog will digest most of what you feed them when you feed them a species appropriate diet.

Raw fed or dogs that eat balanced home cooked meals will not only drink less water but also have smaller less frequent poos.

Why Won’t Vets Teach Us How To Balance Food?

I’ve also asked myself why the dog food industry doesn’t have a centralized food pyramid as to what dogs should eat just like humans have our own guidelines.

For some reason we’re allowed to buy food for humans no matter what age to make it at home and the medical industry trusts us to do this but for some reason the pet food industry discourages this behavior in prepping our food for our dogs.

I can feed humans from babies to seniors but I’m not encouraged to make fresh food for dogs?

What If You Ate Processed Food Every Single Day Of Your Life?

Have you ever eaten Cheerios? Or any other processed food for an extended amount of time day in and day out?

How did it make you feel?

I’ve often wondered if dogs could talk what they would say if they could talk about how kibble made them feel.

I ask myself what those brown hard balls must taste like, and feel like in my stomach if I ate it twice a day for the rest of my life.

I’d probably be miserable.

Why You Need To Rethink The Amount Of Money You Spend On Your Dog

Common online reports state that it costs $1000 per year to take care of your dog.

If you do an internet search on how much it costs to take care of a Boston Terrier, you might find sources citing food costs to be $20 to $30 per month.

And that often tells me that is a probably a kibble fed dog.

Feeding fresh doesn’t have to be expensive. It can run anywhere from $2per pound all the way up $6 per pound. The range depends on how well you can source your ingredients.

A Boston Terrier of say 17 pounds is going to eat about 4oz a meal or a pound every 2 days.

When you factor in your cost per pound, you’ll see that the primary ingredient cost isn’t that much.

A fresh food diet for a small Boston Terrier can start at $30 per month all the way up to $80 per month for your core proteins.

After supplements and other ingredients it can range at $50 to $120 per month for your Boston Terrier to eat a balanced fresh and real food diet.

Also I feel that fresh fed dogs are going to have less illnesses because they will be healthier so what you save on vet cost visits is money you can allocate to food.

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DISCLOSURE:  Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation.  This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I have tried and trust.

Maggielovesorbit, Ilovebostons  is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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Where To Start To Learn About Fresh Food For my Dog?

Online, the best resource to start with is Dogs Naturally Magazine

If you want to learn about raw feeding I’d recommend Keep The Tail Wagging

Books that you can buy on Amazon to start you off with are:

Raw Meaty Bones by Dr. Tom Lonsdale

Four Paws Five Directions

And then join as many facebook groups on raw or home cooked feeding as you can because members in those groups can get you started in the right direction.

Can I Buy Fresh Food?

YES – you can have raw and cooked delivered to you. Some stores even carry them.

And the cost can be anywhere from $4 to $8 per pound depending on the protein that you are feeding.

What’s The Best Kibble To Feed a Dog

In spite of my own decision I still get asked this question and my answer is:

I don’t.

Doesn’t mean I didn’t use to. In fact when I did fed Taste of the Wild.

But I’ve learned since then and evolved to fresh feeding so now I no longer recommend kibble to any friends at all.

What Do Maggie and Orbit Eat

Now that I know more about the rendering process and how to read food labels in dog food, I no longer feed kibble.

Maggie and Orbit eat a cooked meal. I have a foundation recipe HERE.

For treats and chews I get them from REAL DOG BOX.

Sometimes I make my own TUNA FUDGE TREATS

Occasionally I’ll buy “cookie” treats from Amazon like the Charlee Bears that are egg flavor.

And their Furbo is full of these little cookie treats shaped like stars that I also get from Amazon.

In Closing

I choose not to feed my own dogs kibble. This is a personal choice.

Want To Do Your Own Reading?

If you want to learn more about how kibble is made, rendering, denaturing:

Book: Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food

Websites:

Poisoned Pets: Condemned, Inedible Meat & Poultry: It’s What’s in Pet Food

Dog Poop: Dogs Naturally Magazine – Dog Poo – Let’s Probe Further

Rendering Plants:  GRAPHIC CONTENT PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Truth About Pet Food and Pet Food Regulations

The Truth about Why Dead/Diseased Animals goes to Pet Food

Ottowa Valley Dog Whisperer – Dead Dogs, Dead Cats Used As Pet Food Ingredient

The Shocking Truth About Commercial Dog Food

FDA Pulls the Plug on Policy Guides Which Allowed 4D Meat in Pet Food, But Admits it Might Still Get a Pass

EPA Document Proves Euthanized Dogs and Cats are Rendered

Dogs Naturally – Rendered Products In Pet Food

Footage of a drive by of a rendering plant

Undercover video of a rendering plant

2017 recall of Evangers dog food where laboratory testing revealed pentobarbital

The long, bizarre history of euthanasia drugs in pet food

Poisoned Pets: The horror: Euthanized animals in pet food

Dog Food Advisor:  Do They Really Use Dead Dogs and Cats to Make Pet Food?

The Dog Food Project:  Interpreting Pet Food Labels

AAFCO: Reading Labels 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello, my name is Hannah and I dance with my dogs.

I am a Boston Terrier Breed Advocate.  I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to tell our story on our Instagram.

My mission is to bring Boston Terrier dog parents the best, most accurate information to help your dogs live happier, healthier lives.

I have two Boston Terriers of my own. Maggie is my socially awkward heart dog while Orbit is my shadow and soul dog.

You won’t read about cats here, but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to this wonderful breed to help you learn more about them or provide practical tips as you raise your own. Read more about us.

By MaggieLovesOrbit.com, April 7, 2020
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