Not Your Grandmother’s Kibble

When I was in graduate school, a fellow student recommended a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Published in 1962, it was already considered a classic in the philosophy of science by the 1980’s. Kuhn is responsible for defining and popularizing the concept of “paradigm shifts.” He explains that historically, scientific advancement has occurred as a series of relatively uneventful periods punctuated by intellectually abrupt “revolutions.” These are discoveries that are so new and unexpected that they change the entire way in which we do science, think about a topic, or even live our lives. Once accepted, these new concepts completely replace those that preceded them.

Kuhn CycleParadigm Shifts: A paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another; a new way of looking at an old problem. These shifts do not just happen, but rather are driven by people of great minds or by events of great import. For example, the development of agriculture changed humans from nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary community builders, and for better or for worse, allowed us to populate and dominate the entire planet. Similarly, Darwin’s theory of evolution changed not only how we looked at all other species on the planet, but (with some continuing resistance) how we look upon being human itself. Paradigm shifts also can be caused by new inventions. The invention of the printing press in the 1400’s led to the unprecedented preservation and distribution of knowledge and had a major role in the scientific revolution. In our own time, the introduction of the personal computer and the internet have had cultural ramifications that have impacted our personal and professional lives in ways that could never have been anticipated. These transformations all involve a replacement of old belief systems or way of doing things with an entirely new paradigm.

At the risk of over-dramatization, it appears that we are in the middle of a paradigm shift today that affects how we think about commercial pet foods and how best to feed our dogs. Although not a life-changing event for most people, or even perhaps not for most dog people, the changes that we are seeing in the pet food industry and among owner attitudes during the last seven years are unprecedented and certainly worth examining.

Paradigm Shift

If you remember, the pet food industry was literally “born” in the early 1960’s as a consequence of the development of the extrusion process. Producing dry foods that provided complete nutrition, stored well and were convenient allowed dog owners to feed their dogs a single product for a relatively low price and to feel good while doing it.

Vintage Label

Pet Food Choice Explodes: Starting in the mid 1980’s, research that studied the nutrient needs of dogs increased dramatically both at universities and within the private sector (pet food companies). This expansion occurred in large part because of the increasing importance that dogs had to our lives and the creation of an entire pet industry around that relationship. The advances in our understanding of canine nutrient needs and feeding behavior led to improvements in both the quality of many foods as well as an explosion in the number of brands and products that were available to dog owners.

By the new millennium, more than 90 percent of Americans were feeding a commercial dry (extruded) dog food to their dog and the explosion of life stage and life style foods has occurred almost exclusively within the extruded dry product segment. In addition to puppy and adult foods, we saw the development of products that target different adult sizes, activity levels, breeds, and health conditions. The variety of ingredients included in foods has similarly expanded, with the inclusion of new protein sources, grains (or no grains), types of fat and “functional” nutrients.

Cat's Poo

On the business side of things, the 1990’s and early 2000’s witnessed unprecedented growth in sales, followed by an epidemic of pet food company mergers and acquisitions. Small, privately owned pet food companies and their brands were gobbled up by a small handful of multi-national corporations. Over time, a single company became the owner not only of multiple brands of food but also numerous product lines within brands. By the early 2000’s, the majority of pet food brands sold in the United States were owned by the “five giants” of the pet food industry: Mars Petcare; Nestle-Purina PetCare; Colgate-Palmolive (owner of Hills); Procter and Gamble (P&G) Pet Care; and Del Monte Foods (recently renamed Big Heart). These five are now further consolidated down to four, when Mars purchased all of P&G’s pet food brands (Eukanuba, Iams and Natura) in April of 2014.

Pet Food Recall of 2007: The pet food paradigm shift that began in the early 2000’s accelerated tremendously in the spring of 2007. Sadly, this change came about not in response to a new discovery or an innovative type of pet food. Rather, it was set off by a massive pet food recall of unprecedented proportion that was caused by the intentional adulteration of a common food ingredient.  The problem began when numerous dogs and cats started to become suddenly ill with renal failure, many never recovering. Although we now know that the company that was responsible, Menu Foods, had started to investigate the problem by early March, it took weeks of consumer complaints before a voluntary recall was initiated.

Worst nightmare: I remember that time well. My mom and I were attending a Canine Freestyle seminar together in St. Louis, Missouri. My mother, a trainer also, had been a board member of NADOI, and this seminar was held in conjunction with the organization’s annual meeting. During a seminar break, a long-time friend of my mother’s came and sat with us. She tearfully related that she had lost her beloved, young, German Shepherd earlier that week to renal disease, brought on by the tainted food. The most heart wrenching detail that I remember from that conversation was the distraught woman telling us of her continued attempts to entice her sick dog to eat the tainted food prior to knowing that it was the food that was actually causing her dog’s illness and eventual death. She spoke of warming the food and adding little tidbits to it, in an attempt to nurture her boy back to health. For me, and also for my mom and others in the room, this put a highly personal face on the daily statistics of pet illness and loss that we were reading about in the media. It is an understatement to say that losing a dog in such a way is every dog lover’s worst nightmare.

Over the following months and into early summer, the extent of the problem became appallingly evident. According to Dr. Stephen Sundlof, who was the head of the FDA’s Center of Veterinary Medicine at the time, the root cause of the contamination came from a switch in ingredient supplier. Buyers at Menu Foods had recently changed to a new supplier of wheat gluten, an ingredient that is included in canned foods as a thickening and binding agent. They had switched to an Arizona-based company called ChemNutra that was importing the ingredient from China. ChemNutra offered wheat gluten at a price that was about 30 percent lower than the cost of making (not selling) the ingredient in the US. It eventually became known that the Chinese suppliers were intentionally adding two non-food compounds, melamine and cyanuric acid, to wheat flour in order to make the flour appear to be the more expensive ingredient, wheat gluten. The adulteration had the effect of raising apparent protein levels of the ingredient in a deceptive manner, thus allowing the company to charge a higher price for what was actually a very low quality product. When present together in a pet food, we now know that melamine and cyanuric acid crystallize into a complex that accumulates in the kidney, leading to kidney damage and death. By the end of the disaster, it was estimated that over 5,000 pet food products had been tainted and were recalled and thousands of cats and dogs were sickened or killed.

This event, along with several subsequent pet food recalls for salmonella and aflatoxin (a toxin produced as a result of mold contamination to corn or wheat ingredients), led to changes in dog owners’ understanding of how pet food was made in the United States and to a dramatic shift in overall perceptions of the pet food industry. Perhaps the biggest shock to dog owners was the revelation that a single manufacturer, in this case Menu Foods Limited, was responsible for the production of dozens of brands of pet food that were owned by a wide variety of pet food companies, including the “big five” discussed earlier. As a result, different brands of foods were often produced using the same ingredients that originated from a common supplier. Perhaps even more significant was the realization that many pet food ingredients were sourced from outside of the United States, often in countries such as China, that had few or insufficient regulatory standards. Collectively, the truths that were revealed in the wake of the largest and most devastating pet food recall in history led to a rapid loss of consumer confidence and to increased skepticism of pet food companies and their products. Contaminated food

Other cultural shifts: While pet food recalls are dramatic and highly salient examples, several other cultural changes have also contributed to the pet food paradigm shift. It is common knowledge among people who work in the pet food industry that trends occurring in the human food industry quite reliably predict what we can expect to see occurring a few years later in the pet food industry. A recent example of this is the increased popularity of grain-free dog foods. These foods have their origins in the gluten-free and eventually grain-free movement in human diets. Grain-free brands of dog food were virtually non-existent before the year 2000. Today, almost every pet food company includes a dedicated grain-free brand or product line and some companies sell nothing but grain-free products. Similarly, as interest has grown about where and how our own food is produced, so too has there been increased interest in knowing more about the origin of the foods that we feed to our dogs and cats. Owners are increasingly sophisticated in their knowledge of foods and are more willing than ever before to scrutinize ingredients and label claims. Market segments that were once considered small and “niche” are now mainstream. Some owners wish to choose only foods that include organic ingredients, some eschew any foods that may contain genetically modified organisms, and others are switching to raw diets for their dogs. Many are concerned about the source of ingredients that go into foods as well as about who is producing their dog’s food. And, some are equally concerned with the environmental or animal welfare issues surrounding their own and their dogs’ foods or with consuming only foods that originate locally or regionally.

Not just your grandmother’s kibble anymore: So, let’s take a look at where exactly the pet food paradigm shift has led us. During the last 5 years, the pet food industry has witnessed an explosion of innovation and the development of new feeding philosophies and products. The development of extrusion in the early 1960’s almost instantaneously revolutionized the pet food industry, in large part because it led to the mass production of foods that were convenient, economical and that could be stored for long periods. Because the extrusion cooking process efficiently cooked starch and resulted in both increased digestibility and enhanced taste, dry foods contained a relatively high proportion of starch, plus various sources of animal- and/or plant-based proteins, animal or plant fats/oils, and vitamin/mineral “pre-mixes.” Convenience has been an attractive feature of extruded dry foods for many dog owners. Not only are these foods easy to store and feed, but they can now be purchased at every supermarket and big box outlet found in America’s shopping centers. Owners can purchase dry dog foods at grocery stores and mass market retailers such as Walmart, Target and even Walgreens. Together, these large retail sources are responsible for more than 70 percent of dog food sales. The pet superstores are responsible for about one-fifth of sales, followed distantly by small pet supply stores. Generally speaking, the perception of owners is that higher quality (i.e., premium) foods are available at pet supply stores, while the lower quality brands, which are also lower in cost, can be readily purchased at grocery store chains and mass market retailers. And generally speaking, these distinctions are true.

Notwithstanding the continued popularity of extruded foods, there are a number of completely new approaches to producing dog foods that have been developed in recent years as part of this paradigm shift and that provide a new set of choices to dog owners. Several of these approaches are used primarily to produce safe and storable raw foods, such as dehydration and freeze-drying. Others are a new approach to cooking and storing foods that contain ingredients other than those that are typically included in dry foods, in some cases, using ingredients that never leave the “edible” (USDA term for human grade foods) supply stream and so are classified as being produced from human grade ingredients and using human food production methods. While these foods still comprise a relatively small portion of the pet food market, I think they reflect the enhanced innovation and exploration into new possibilities that are coming about during the new age of pet foods as well as a response from dog owners who are demanding higher transparency from the pet food industry, along with higher quality and safer foods. The table below summarizes several of these approaches and provides a few brand examples for you to explore, should you so choose. (Note: The table does not contain a complete list of brands, but rather is intended to provide a randomly selected group of brands as examples).

Food Form Description Brand Examples
Dehydrated Dehydration involves removing most of the water from the mixed and ground raw ingredients. Gentle heating during dehydration kills microorganisms and partially cooks the food. Portions are rehydrated with warm water immediately prior to feeding. The Honest Kitchen, Addiction, ZiWi Peak
Freeze-dried Ingredients are mixed and then frozen under a vacuum to allow which allows product moisture to sublimate directly from the solid phase to the gas phase. Portions are rehydrated with warm water. Stella & Chewy’s, Nutrisca, Orijen, SoJo
Refrigerated Ingredients are gently cooked (not extruded), shaped into tubes or patties and refrigerated. FreshPet
Frozen (Cooked) Ingredients are gently cooked (not extruded), then frozen. May be complete and balanced or a pre-mix to which other ingredients are added at home Evermore, Bil-Jac, Buddy’s Kitchen
Frozen (Raw) Ingredients are combined, frozen, and packaged as rolls, or individual meal-size patties Stella & Chewys, Nature’s Variety, Bravo!
Pre-mixes A frozen or freeze-dried mix of either non-meat ingredients (to which the owner adds cooked or raw meat), or of meat ingredients (to which the owner adds vegetables, fruits, grains) Fresh Oasis, SoJo, Bravo!
Raw Coated Baked or extruded kibbles coated with freeze-dried (usually raw) ingredients Great Life, Instinct (treats)

 NOTE: This essay was excerpted from my 2014 book “Dog Food Logic(Dogwise Publishing, 2014), Chapter 7, pages 116-119. To continue reading and learn more, just click the image below. (Also available on Amazon). This essay kicks off a new series of Science Dog blogs that will examine new research in canine nutrition and feeding. Coming Soon – “The Nature of Natural”!

Amazon Cover

26 thoughts on “Not Your Grandmother’s Kibble

      • You’re welcome. I think one has to have a brain about the size of a small planet to figure all this stuff out. I’ve been feeding my dogs the Pitcairn diet for about 5 years–they do very well. Recently decided to create a local, natural, homemade dog food company (“Zippy’s Pride”) and spent a long time with your book. I think I got it right…;)

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  1. here it is 🙂

    t

    fyi, i just answered some FB and blog comments (lots going on there, as expected, lots of other case studies wanting advice.) but am about to go home and spend some time outside before it gets dark. whee!

    [i went to the sheraton this morning with lisa, decided that the books should go on the right, close to where people walk in. it means we can’t set up the book table until beginning at 4 instead of 3, but i really think it’ll make a significant diff in book sales. all else looks good….]

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    • Hi Trisha, Did you intend to log a comment on The Science Dog or is this perhaps an email gone astray? If it is the latter, let me know and I can take it down for you. If it is the former and is written in a secret code…..here is my reply “Yes, and the dolphin flies with tulips at midnight”….” 🙂

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  2. Commercial food is a real problem.

    Years ago I found a commercial dry food which my dogs did OK on. It was an Australian brand and its meat source was kangaroo only. I used to for years, even after the company was taken over by a Big American company. But then I found that my dogs’ coats were deteriorating, even though they were only getting this food two times per week.
    I spoke to the people where I bought they food, and they informed me that since the Australian company was taken over, the recipe/ingredients had been changed FIVE times, without a label change (apart, I suppose, from the small print of the ‘list of ingredients’.)

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    • I found too big a difference between commercial and homemade food to go back to commercial. Trouble is, it takes a *lot* of work to make good food for dogs…and even more to do it so that the food is nutritionally complete. Developing a recipe is hard–one has to understand what dogs need–and then test it to determine that the recipe works.

      But you know what? It’s so worth it.

      BTW, Linda’s book on canine nutrition is very worthwhile. Work to take it all in, but worthwhile.

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      • Thanks. And, just when I’m getting the hang of this, I’ve run into enough people who state that their dogs have an allergic reaction to chicken, that I’m looking into adding a product made from another protein. And, getting enough requests for treats…

        Hadn’t wanted to go down these roads yet, but the Customer is Queen.

        BTW, I believe that sweet potato will be a better ingredient when cooked–lower glycemic index, and better absorbed. So, cooked sweet spuds it is.

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      • Dogs (and people) can be allergic to any protein.
        Which is why I strongly believe that any commercial food should contain proteins only from named ingredients. One source of animal protein and one each of a pulse/cereal protein,

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      • Hi Jenny,

        Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if I understand. Are you saying that (commercial) dog food should only contain animal protein from one source only?

        Are you also saying the commercial food for dogs should have 3 protein sources: one animal protein, one cereal protein, and one pulse (legume) protein?

        Thanks for clarifying.

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      • Yes! Definitey!
        As a person with multiple allergies, and from a family with multiple allergies, I know just how hard it is to find commercially prepared foods that do not continue at least one thing that causes problems.
        And how LITTLE of the problem ingredient is enough to give one problems.

        I am not really saying that a dog food SHOULD contain any pulses of cereals, but just that IF these are included, then they should be limited to one of each, which is named in the ingredients list. Soy, I know is a common source of problems, in both dogs and humans.

        The trouble is if you feed a diet with many different proteins in it, regularly, the consumer can develop an allergy to any one of these proteins, and until you put the dog/person on an elimination diet you will have no idea at all as to what the allergy is to.

        It was the Aussie Dog Toys bloke who had a dog with serious life-threatening allergies to chicken (for the life of me I cannot remember his name 😦
        I have known dogs allergic to kangaroo, beef, mutton/lamb. So if the ingredients are as in so many commercial foods beef/mutton/this eliminated a large number of dogs able to tolerate it.

        My dogs cannot digest mutton fat so IF there is any tallow on the food, then the back yard stinks like rancid tallow?
        (Have you noticed how with commercial dry feeds, the dog stools smell like rancid fat? I can only presume dogs can digest the stuff they put into the food to hade the rancidity!)

        I know that my dogs can tolerate beef, kangaroo and pork, and ‘Tuna for Cats’. I know they can tolerate red lentils and split peas, brown rice, rolled oats. They get pumpkin/parsley/carrot lettuce(juice)/oranges/grapefruit (because we have the trees), celery.
        If they get anything different, it is for a single meal, and I keep an eye out for problems.
        (The same goes of course for other non-nutritive ingredients and chemicals/preservatives/colours/flavours/texture improvers/etc. Which is why I try to avoid commercial foods which contain a plethora of these things.

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      • I disagree that it “takes a *lot* of work to make good food for dogs”.

        This has been a belief started and fostered by the commercial dog food manufacturers.
        We fed our dogs for centuries (millennia?) without commercially prepared food.
        A good source of animal protein along with the natural fat, chewable and digestible bones, and a few veggies and /or fruit.
        It is certainly far far easier than cooking a meal for the family.

        (On the other hand I do not feed the family of prepared food that comes in cans, jars of the freezer. Too many wretched additives and ‘stuff’ — I don’t think we humans do well on such things either.)

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      • Hey,now, Jenny…all I’m just saying is that it was a lot of work for *me* to prepare homemade dog food…properly.

        I started with Dr. Pitcairn’s recipes It was easy to follow directions, but it was a *lot* of work to cook and then clean up the mess! Ground chicken was a bit out of my budget, so I bought chicken and ground it. Then made oatmeal and let it cool. Then mix it along with other ingredients. That was a fair bit of work. Add in cleaning up (dried oatmeal is a bit like plaster) and you have a *lot* of work

        Then I asked, is Dr. Pitcairn correct? So I started researching canine nutritional needs. I found that trying to understand food metabolism and canine nutritional needs didn’t come easy! For example, I learned that the ratio of calcium to phosphorous is critical. So, how does one achieve that? That was vexing because if you change one or two ingredients, you risk changing the balance of other ingredients.

        Once I created a recipe I thought was appropriate, I sent it to an independent lab to test the protein and fat and fiber contents. Also tested the mineral content because that Ca:P ratio really worried me! I tested for aflatoxin, vomitoxin, and other microbial contaminants like E coli, staph, salmonella, mold, yeast, etc. To me, that was a lot of work.

        So, that’s why I said it was a *lot* of work. Maybe I made it all too complicated, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle before I put my dogs at risk.

        “Canine and Feline Nutrition” by Linda Case et al was a lot of help, but it wasn’t easy.

        You’re right: we fed our dogs without commercially prepared food for centuries, but I don’t know if dogs were healthy or if they suffered from nutritional deficiencies. All I can tell you is that I want the best for my dogs and I’m willing to do a *lot* of work to ensure that.

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      • Ah. well. I just give my dogs raw meat, raw bones, some veggies and because meat is expensive top up the protein with peas/lentil and oatmeat/brown rice. This stuff just busily
        cooks itself in a big pot on the stove. All I need to do is remember to turn it off before it either burns or boils over 😦 I do add supplements — yeast especially, then as I said oil unless the meat or bones they get are fatty, multivit/mineral and some gelatine unless they are getting pigs trotters. The do get eggs when we have an egg glut. If the eggs go in raw, I add some biotin.

        I am a bit of a fan of Billinghust (in the original — before processed BARF came in). our dogs have never been so health as when we lived in the Kimberleys (Australia) and a loval station holder (rancher to yooze foreigners) gave us a couple of beef ‘legs’ once a week,. We put the legs out skin, hoof and all into the back yard and over the week the dogs ate them. we were left with nothing more than a few bits of hard bone and hoof, and lots of bundles of cow hair (that all the dogs popped out from the legs!)
        Now if I’m pressed for time/didn’t get home in time to prepare the dogs’ meals they either get dry food rations (with cold water or pineapple juice) or a larger than usual bone (Kangaroo tails or pigs trotters or chicken frames.

        As to the days before commercial dog feeds, our dogs tended to live much longer than modern dogs. (That is, unless they got skittled on the roads or died as pups from distemper.) Now this might be more that most dogs were mongrels descended for ‘survivors’. We didn’t visit vets either — except for their puppy vaccinations and spaying

        But basically dogs were fed on free bones from the butcher and left overs from the human meals. With the advent of commercial foods I have seen an increasingly large number of dogs with health problems — the main one being over-weight, of course. 😦 Next poor coat, harsh and stinky, entailing the necessity to wash the dog to stop it smelling. (None of my current dogs has ever had a bath of wash. With spot on flea and tick treatments now there is no more reason to wash a dog than there is to wash a cat 🙂

        Cheers,
        Methuselah’s Grandmother!

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      • Wow…sounds yummy.

        Can you point me to any research regarding canine life span before the era of commercial dog food? I’d like to be able to cite that. Thanks!

        Methuselah’s Brother

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  3. It’s been over 15 years, but that knowledge you gave us during the college courses at UIUC is still alive today. At least once a month, maybe more, I get asked about dog food recommendations because of how well Stosh/Coda and now Amber are doing. It’s great to see you are still leading the way through the pet food field. Dog trainers, zoo keepers and research professionals are some of the folks your knowledge has touched!

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    • Hi Eric! Thank you so,so much for your kind words. I really miss teaching the undergraduate program at U of IL, mainly because I had the chance to get to know those special students who come along, like you, who went on to do wonderful things in the animal world (and who stay in touch!) Hope all is well with you and your family and your dogs – one of these days we will meet up again at a conference or professional meeting!

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  4. Great post, and good coverage of history and recent trends. Extruded, dry pet food will likely continue its dominance for decades to come (with higher-quality brands emerging, as we have already witnessed), with the newer products filling any potential gaps of nutrient deficiencies, either actual or assumed, as a sort of top-dressing (fed on top of the dry pet food, in some cases literally).
    I think this leaves wet pet food without a clear purpose, except perhaps for cats as a way to increase their hydration status. Perhaps this is why wet pet food production has been declining recently.

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    • Hi Dave – Thanks for reading and for your comment! I agree that we will continue to see extruded foods as the predominant choice in the US, and also that we are seeing more and more high quality brands coming on board. IMHO, it is a great trend to see as dog owners become more sophisticated consumers and as they demand higher quality for their dogs (and better choices). Your note about wet foods is also of interest. I personally have wondered if the hydration issue (and its potential effects upon both bladder health and long term kidney health) needs to be studied in dogs also. We have always fed dry food covered in warm water (to float) specifically because of its low water content (which is certainly lower than anything any animal would naturally eat – I liken feeding a dry food “dry” to eating a meal of saltine crackers…. 🙂 ). Which leads to the question that are dogs who are fed dry food (i.e. not floated) compensating adequately with voluntary water consumption over the long term or are they living in a state of subclinical dehydration (which in turn could impact renal or bladder health over time)? Just a question that has been floating around in my head for a while……thanks for reading – just started following your blog – it looks interesting! Linda

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      • I have seen people who feed dry food (dry) to their dog giving them the same volume of food as they would if feeding straight meat.
        Apart from the problems of bloat, when the dog drinks enough water afterwards to wet the ingested food enough to digest it, you get a serious weight problem.
        I see people fussing about trying to make their dogs drink water, yet they feed dry dry food to the dog,

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    • Odd. We feed our cats dry commercial foods and our dogs a home prepared meat/veggie/cereal/pulse diet (with brewers yeast, multivit/mineral supplement and Omega 3 oil to compensate for the (kangaroo) meat being so lean.
      The cats frequently remind us to top up their water bowl 🙂 And they get the bulk of their diet from the rats they catch 🙂
      The trouble with cats, is that their meat must be fresh. They cannot do well on the kangaroo(not preserved, but a bit “off’) I feed the dogs. When the dogs get, for a change, some other meat and it is fresh, then the cats get that too.

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  5. Feeding straight raw now for two years to our six dogs, mostly chicken and pork, occasionally beef and add liver weekly. We’ve seen a change in their coats and very few vet visits. We’ll never go back to feeding commercial dry food. It was a decision we did not make lightly as we’d been feeding high-end dry foods for years but after reading extensively (too bad your book wasn’t out then!) and talking with others who had switched to feeding raw it felt right to give it a try. Our dogs love it!

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  6. I know you said your brand lists were not complete, but since you listed Stella & Chewy twice, maybe you could have replaced one of them with Primal. Nothing wrong with Stella & Chewy (my cats eat it every day), but Primal freeze dried and frozen raw is my dog’s favorite. Great article!

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  7. Just weighing in on the water issue. We have two dogs on prescription diets for IBD that is at least in part related to food intolerance. I would rather cook for them, but at our house the rule of thumb is don’t mess with success, and each of them is doing well on their respective commercial diets. That being said, there is definitely a difference in their stool if they get dry food that hasn’t been softened in water. Completely dry food results in a softer stool, suggesting some irritation along the way. When their dry food is softened in water, their guts seem very happy.

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