Would you believe us if we told you that you feed your pet kibble because of Hitler?! Sounds crazy, but keeping reading to learn about the fascinating origin of dry pet food and discover what it can do to your pet.
Samantha Henson is a Clinical Pet Nutritionist and Founder of Next Generation Pet Wellness. I sat down and spoke with her about dog food. Please look Sam up. Her formulations and work have been featured in Forbes and on Fox News, and she was Pet Food Innovator of the Year in 2018. Here are the nuggets from our interview and follow up: Kibble, like anything else invented in the 1940’s, was a direct result of WWII. Tin was in such high demand for the war effort, and in such short supply, even tin from pet food cans was needed.
Pet food went from wet canned food, to dry and bagged food.
Major pro: with all the extra tin, we were able to stop Hitler from invading more countries.
Major con: meat was replaced with dried grain and corn.
This doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, which is why so many of us are still buying 50 lb bags of it. The real issues show up when you look at second- and third-degree consequences.
For instance: in the 40’s cats were fed this mixture just as dogs were. But now cats are back to canned/wet food. Why? They went blind. They all went blind on dry food, that’s why. Dogs are tougher than cats (okay I’m a dog guy), and were able to utilize some of the plant protein found in the dry food… and they didn’t go blind.
BUT, and this is a big but: their microbiomes were destroyed. The canine digestive system is not built to process high levels of carbohydrates. I know, I know. Sounds like I’m pushing the Keto and Atkins diet onto your pup. Actually though, their digestive system is just different than ours. You don’t see a lot of wild canines hanging out near cornfields.
Here are some of the drawbacks to dry, carb-heavy kibble for dogs directly from the writings of Samantha: “Most kibbles are made through the process of extrusion. Extrusion is a method of mass-producing shelf-stable foods by mixing wet and dry ingredients together and then adding them to a machine, subjecting those ingredients to extreme heat and pressure. It is then fed through a die-cutting machine to form the kibble shapes we're all familiar with today. After drying, extruded food products are commonly coated with fat such as chicken fat, pork fat, and lard to increase palatability and calorie content. The biggest downside? The extreme heat and drying process removes beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids, micronutrients, and moisture that pets need to truly thrive. “The other major downfall to feeding dry food is that...it's dry. Really, really dry. A dog is meant to get its moisture from its meals, so when that meal only contains 10% moisture, the body will pull water from elsewhere in the body. Its favorite places to draw water from are your dog's organs like their kidneys, bladder, and liver. Over time, this can lead to sad, taxed organs that begin to fail much sooner than they should.”
Samantha goes on to say that an overproduction of yeast in the gut causes what’s called Leaky Gut Syndrome. The results? Red/Brown gunk around any and every hole. Eyes, ears, mouth and nose… and some other ones we never sang about as little kids. You get the picture. Speaking of, here are some examples.
No matter how many times you remove these professionally with the groomer, they come back. Why? Diet. Mostly dry, high-carb kibble causing an overproduction of yeast in the gut. If you can afford to switch your dog’s food to one of these (in order of preference according to Samantha), your dog’s microbiome will thank you, and likely so will the rest of his body.
Raw meat diet - do your breed-specific research
Air-dried, freeze-dried, dehydrated - rehydrated with broth before feeding
Baked (not dried) kibble with meat as the first ingredient
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Blog post as written by Wild Brother Co. and posted on February 03, 2022. Formatted for the NGPW website.