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Choosing the right dog food can be extremely overwhelming. From feeding labels to ingredients and so much more in between, there’s a lot to understand.
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To simplify things, we want to give you an overview of three popular types of dog food. Understanding the differences between kibble vs dehydrated dog food vs raw diets will help you make a more informed choice for your doggo’s diet.
Here’s a simple breakdown, with detailed explanations below.
Want to dive deeper into a specific section? Just click the one you want to read below.
Table of Contents
- Kibble Overview
- Dehydrated Dog Food Overview
- Raw Dog Food Overview
- Conclusion and Final Comparison
Dry dog food, or kibble, is one of the most well-known and commonly used dog food types out there. Kibble is a processed, ground meal food product shaped into pellets for your dog’s consumption.
This dog food comes in a wide range of qualities, price points, and nutritional values. It’s important to analyze each specific brand’s ingredients before making a buying decision.
Let’s break down a general overview of how kibble compares to other dog food types out there.
Of all the dog food types out there, kibble is the easiest to prepare and serve to your dog. It requires zero refrigeration, comes in a ready to eat form and is typically easy to portion out for your dog.
All you have to do is check the feeding guidelines on the bag, and then scoop out the amount it says your pup needs. Kibble can be a great option for busy dog parents because of this convenience factor. Although it is the easiest to prepare, that level of ease can come with some drawbacks.
For years, dog moms and dads all over have started to see the fallbacks of the nutritional content in kibble food. To have such an easily prepared meal, nutrition is many times what’s sacrificed. Just like in human food ( think fast-food meals), the ease and speed of a food option carry with it preservatives, fillers, and not-so-healthy ingredients.
Go to any pet food store whether online or in-person, and you’ll find hundreds of kibble foods that are full of non-essential fillers. Not only that, but the high-temperature cooking method used for kibble can reduce important nutrients, vitamins and proteins. This processing can take what could have been a healthy ingredient choice, and strip it its natural value.
And then there’s the taste! Let’s face it, most dogs are going to eventually eat anything you put in front of them because they know that’s all they are going to get… But that doesn’t mean your dog is necessarily enjoying the taste. Again, due to the high-temperature processing of kibble, many of the natural flavors and aromas of the meat ingredients are lost or minimized by the time the kibble enters your pup’s mouth.
In recent years, some kibble companies have started to move towards healthier and more nutrient-rich ingredient profiles. Check the ingredient list and see what is actually making up the bulk of your dog’s kibble. If it’s too full of grains, preservatives, and things like peas and bad starches, you may want to look elsewhere.
Although the shelf life of kibble is second to none, storing it can become burdensome. For example, I have three dogs which means our house goes through a lot of dog food. To mitigate that buying in “bulk” has become our best friend.
So, the question that’s raised is, where do you put all of that food? A 30-lb bag of food is big, heavy, and is gonna take up a lot of space in your home. If you are only feeding a small dog this may not be as big of a problem, but you’ll still typically need a storage container to dump that big bag into.
The shelf life of most kibble is one to two years or more for unopened bags. Once the bag is opened you’ll usually want to feed your pup that kibble within about 6 weeks.
For affordability, kibble can be one of the cheapest options out there. (There are also very expensive kibble options) Most bags of kibble come in ranges from 1 – 40 lbs. For those sizes, you can expect to pay as little as $8 for very low-grade kibble all the way up to $125 for 40 lb bags of food of “premium” kibble.
For the budget-conscious dog parent, higher-quality kibbles might be a good option for your four-legged friend’s diet. Just be sure to check ingredient labels and see what your pup is actually getting!
Dehydrated dog food is a minimally processed dietary option for dogs of ALL ages that has rich flavors and high nutritional content – meaning your good boy (or girl!) gets the most out of the ingredients. The process of making this food involves taking real-food ingredients and, you guessed it, dehydrating them so very little moisture remains.
That dehydration process is much less intrusive than the cooking of kibble and helps to maintain more of the ingredients’ natural nutrients, proteins, and vitamins. Because the moisture is removed, dehydrated dog food must be “rehydrated” before serving it to your pup.
Many people tout dehydrated dog food as the more convenient version of raw dog food.
If you have 2-3 minutes, then you have enough time to prepare dehydrated dog food. The process of preparing dehydrated dog food is really simple.
- Read the bag’s feeding guideline and measure out the correct amount of both dehydrated food and water (typically warm).
- Mix the food and water in your dog’s bowl and stir.
- Wait 2-3 minutes for ingredients to rehydrate.
- Serve to your pup!
The creation process of dehydrated dog food helps to retain the natural vitamins, proteins, and flavors found in the original ingredients. The ingredients are gently heated in a non-intrusive manner that removes moisture, without “cooking out” the natural flavors and tastes.
Just like with kibble, be sure to read the ingredient label of any dehydrated dog food to see just what is going into your sweet pup’s bowl. You want to find a dehydrated food that is rich in proteins, meats, vitamins, and minerals necessary for your pup’s health.
Most dogs will love the taste of dehydrated dog food, (the different consistency of the food is mostly just weird for humans – dogs don’t mind it!). When you add warm water to dehydrated dog food, the aroma is typically very pleasant to dogs, increasing their desire to eat it.
Also, because of the minimal processing in dehydrated food, the natural flavors of the meats, vegetables, and fruits are typically more potent and desirable for your dog.
The shelf life and storage of dehydrated dog food is typically around 12-18 months. The removal of moisture and inclusion of ingredients with antioxidant properties helps to maintain shelf life.
Once food has been rehydrated with water, you can use any leftovers for about 2-3 days afterward. Just be sure to refrigerate the leftovers and add some fresh warm water when you are ready to reserve the food.
Dehydrated dog food typically falls in the middle of the price spectrum for dog food. Of course, that will depend on the brand as some are less expensive than others. Many dehydrated dog foods will be around the same price as “higher-end” kibble.
Dehydrated food typically comes in bag sizes ranging from less than a pound up to 10-12 pounds. Remember though, generally, an 8-9 pound bag of dehydrated dog food will make about 30-35 pounds of actual food. Prices of an 8-9 pound bag can range anywhere from $50-$120 dollars, depending on the brand.
Dehydrated dog food is a great option for dog moms and dads looking for the nutrition and value of a raw diet, without the time and cost associated with raw. If you’re looking for an easy to prepare, healthy, and sustainable diet option, dehydrated is a great way to go!
Raw dog food is a diet that is typically prepared at home and consists of fresh meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables. Feeding your dog a raw diet gives you the ability (and sometimes challenge) of choosing exactly what goes into their bowl. This control allows you to build very specific diets according to your dog’s breed, age, and dietary restrictions. When embarking on a raw diet for your pup, consulting a nutritionist is extremely important to ensure your dog gets adequate nutrients.
Raw diets also carry risks. As stated by the Food and Drug Administration, compared to other types of pet food, raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.” When working with raw foods, the likelihood of foodborne illnesses can cause problems not only for your dog but for everyone in the home.
Many people love the ability to pick and choose what their dog eats on a daily basis with a raw diet.
Despite all the benefits of a raw diet, the preparation is often what stops dog parents from feeding raw. As stated above, the preparation of raw meats can be hazardous. It is important to take extra care so that no potential contaminants make their way into your own body!
To prepare raw diets, you’ll want to first consult with a nutritionist to make sure your pup is getting all of the necessary vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients. Many people who prepare raw diets for their pup will buy their meats in bulk and freeze. Another way to cut down on prep time is to prepare in bulk and then freeze or refrigerate the meals until they are ready to be served.
Although there are ways to speed up the preparation times of a raw diet, it’s still seen by most pup parents as the biggest downside of a raw diet.
When done correctly, raw diets can provide some of the best nutritional value for your dog. The lack of processing, especially in comparison to kibble, ensures that the full nutritional profile of ingredients is delivered to your pup.
Along with the high nutritional content of raw diets, your dog will likely love the taste of a raw diet. The meats will, of course, be particularly enticing to your furry friend. Of course, it’s important to ensure you prepare and store the meat correctly to avoid food-borne illnesses for your pup.
If you do your homework and follow the feeding and preparation guidelines for raw foods, you can give your pup a highly nutritious and tasty meal with a raw diet.
The shelf life and storage of raw dog food can be the most difficult part of feeding raw. The shelf life of raw dog food is extremely short. Because you are feeding your dog raw meat, you really only have the shelf life of that meat which limits that time frame dramatically.
If you go the route of preparing your dog’s meals in advance you will have to store them all in your fridge. For many people, this poses a space problem! Many raw diet feeders will also buy their meat in bulk and freeze it, creating another storage issue for many.
If you plan on feeding a raw diet to your dog, be sure to allocate enough space in your fridge and enough time in your schedule.
With a raw diet, there are many factors which can determine the cost of raw dog food. But, generally speaking, raw diets fall on the more expensive end of the dog food cost spectrum.
Just like buying nice steaks and other cuts of quality meats for yourself can be expensive, the same typically rings true for your dog. When you are feeding your dog meat for every meal, the cost can add up quickly. Of course, you can find sales at local grocery stores and then stock up and freeze the meat. This can help alleviate the cost of buying meat.
Another expense increaser is meeting with a dog nutritionist to build out a meal plan. Although this is another expense, it is extremely important to ensure that your pup is getting adequate nutrients.
For dog parents who have time to prepare meals often, raw diets can be a very healthy, nutritious, and tasty option for your pup. Just be sure your dog is getting adequate nutrients and that you follow safe food handling procedures.
At the end of the day, making sure your dog has healthy and nutritious food in their bowl should be a top priority. Choosing the food type for your doggo will depend on your schedule and budget. Be sure to weigh all the factors as you decide between kibble vs dehydrated dog food vs raw!
If you have any questions about the different types of dog food, feel free to chat with us, send us an email or leave a comment below! At Pupford, our mission is to empower you to build a stronger and healthier relationship with your pup.