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Kibble Is Kibble 03/15/12

No matter which way you look at it, dried kibble is dried kibble and is not the best you can do for your pets. By Paul Jacobson.

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It always amazes me that the same enlightened person who advocates a wholesome natural life style for themselves, does not necessarily apply these same and equal principles when caring for their four-legged companions.

We, as humans, are very weary of chemicals and poisons when using shampoos and grooming products on our own body, yet indiscriminately and without much thought we apply harsh shampoos and flea repellents onto our pets. Is their skin really that much tougher than ours and devoid of feeling?

Some of the most processed and preserved food on earth is kibble – the staple diet of many of our pets – sold through supermarkets and veterinary clinics. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. Everyone is getting richer, while our pets’ health is getting poorer, with most pets struggling with some sort of skin disorder or allergy – the first sign that something is going wrong.

To make matters worse, each year there are new ranges of kibble that land on our shores. Many claim to have the “best formulation ever”. Some claim to only use “premium ingredients” in their recipe and others boldly claim to be “naturally preserved and holistic”.

In the end, a kibble is a kibble and there is no denying that ALL have the following in common:

Kibble is processed

Most kibble is extruded at high temperatures. Some kibble is baked at lower temperatures. But all are processed at temperatures that nullify the whole and natural vitamin and mineral structures within nutrition. Enzymatic active nutrition comes from food that is not exposed to harsh heat or chemicals, and unfortunately kibble is found seriously wanting in this respect

Kibble is preserved

No food can sit on a dry shelf without being preserved. Kibble can enjoy a shelf life of 12 months. Some of the preservatives used are also dubious and many pet food companies still use preservatives that are outlawed in human foods. We often find that the pet food labels claim that their food is “naturally preserved” or contains only “natural preservatives”. But are these natural preservatives “natural” and more importantly can they really claim to be totally safe?

Kibble is devoid of moisture

This is probably one of the main reasons why our pets, and in particular cats, struggle with uninary infections, bladder disorders and renal complications. Dogs and cats rely on their nutrition for their liquid intake. Nowadays, we find that our pets are drinking copious amounts of water so compensate for their state of dehydration. However, the water is not being retained effectively, as it would be with diets that are naturally enriched with moisture.

Kibble is saturated with digestives or fats

A dry kibble would have no appeal to our companions if they weren’t saturated with fats or digestives. This makes a dry inappropriate diet more palatable and enticing. But any chef will tell you that there are good fats and bad fat,  and that fats and oils have a “smoking” or “burning” point. That is the temperature at which a fat or oil will burn and turn rancid and loose nutritional value. Olive oil or peanut oil has high “smoking” points, but rendered fat, commonly used in kibble food, has very low smoking points.

That means that even on a relatively hot day in South Africa, your packet of kibble is at risk of turning rancid, unless stored in a cool place or fridge. Rancidity is one of the main causes of irritable skin and related allergies.

Kibble is a High Carb and Calorie Diet

Athletes before an event often “carbo-load” to build up energy resources. High-carb diets have the same impact on our pets. Most of our pets, and certainly with specific breeds, already have too much energy and are hyperactive. A kibble diet can exacerbate energy levels with the result that our pets become out of control, less disciplined and generally misbehaved. Hyperactive pets are likely to chew themselves and show signs of irritation and discomfort.

High carb diets are also high in acidity, which not only affects behaviour, but joints and skeletal development. And perhaps this could be a contributing factor as to why so many of our animals struggle with arthritic issues.

Kibble is Devoid of Love

A very important part of bonding between parent and child is through feeding and around the dinner table. We yearned for our favorite dishes that mom prepared: tomato bredie, curry, macaroni and cheese. It was at the dinner table that respect was earned and demanded and a sense of unity emerged.

When it comes to our pets, we chuck a bowl of kibble on the ground and leave abruptly. No love, no nurturing, no expectations and no interaction.
Yet, we expect sterling behaviour from our companion. This is an unrealistic demand when we actually have not earned the respect or the bond.

For thousands of years our companion animals have been fed a natural, wholesome diet from our kitchen, and they performed extremely well on such a diet. In a few short decades, the whole nutritional base of our animals shifted to highly processed and chemically-laden food.

While the manufacturers claim that our pets can thrive on a diet consisting of nothing but commercial dried food, research and an increasing number of veterinarians, implicate processed, dried pet food as a source of disease or as an exacerbating agent for a number of degenerative diseases.

The highest quality of nourishment comes from whole natural and enzyme-active foods that are not refined, processed, exposed to high temperatures or laden with preservatives.

That’s why feeding your pet a diet full of home-cooked goodness is still best.

For about pet health, take a look at more posts by Paul here.

Paul Jacobson is a Pet Food Nutritionist and qualified chef and owner of Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition. Vondis has been producing natural pet food for 14 years and is a registered nutritional pet food. Vondis is actively involved in educating the public on the benefits of natural diets for pets and a holistic approach when treating them. Go to for more information.

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Paul Jacobson is a Pet Food Nutritionist and qualified chef and owner of Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition.

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