What are the 10 most common mistakes people make when feeding their dog?
Kibble remains by far the most common form of food in the world as more than 90% of dogs eat it. While I have never hidden from recommending fresh food for your dog when your lifestyle and budget allows, I consider that turning your back (as many homegrown purists do) on those who give kibble would be. prevent a host of dogs from living healthier lives. After all, whether we feed raw, kibble, or whatever in between, we can all make small changes in our dog’s nutrition to keep him healthier.
So, throughout this article, I would like to list the 10 most common mistakes I see in people who feed their dogs with dry food. At first, it was a top 8 but let’s face it, it doesn’t sound so good … and magically during the writing I got two more (I’m not telling you which ones)!
Here are the 10 mistakes you may be making (in part) if you feed dry food.
1. Always give the same kibble
Those who read me frequently must have had enough of me repeating over and over again that we need to give our dogs VARIETY! Yet this is a major problem in today’s market.
It makes NO sense that a dog eats the same kibble their entire life. Those who perpetuate this myth do so for the sole reason that they do not want to lose your customer base ($), whether it is your vet, an in-store salesperson or a company directly through loyalty programs (ex: 12th bag free).
I cannot repeat it enough: no kibble is perfect. This mode of nutrition is a useful compromise for us humans but very imperfect for the health of our dog. If you can’t give your dog anything other than kibble, at least give him variety … but not just anyhow!
Many companies offer what are called rotary diets, where in the same brand you will have a product line containing 3, 4, 5 “flavors” (proteins) that you can alternate without making any transition like when you change brands. In a simple rotary diet, it is the same “basic recipe” to which we will add a different meat protein for each “flavor”. To imagine it, it’s a bit like eating potatoes, carrots and meat alternately every day (chicken, lamb, fish, etc.). Identical basic recipe (potatoes + carrots) and you vary the meat.
No dog should eat the same meal all his life and for those who do, don’t be surprised when he decides he has had enough and refuses to eat. In addition, constant exposure to the same protein over time causes the dog’s body to develop allergies and intolerances to many ingredients. Another reason to incorporate variety into your meals!
Is it necessary to vary at each meal? No! What I normally recommend is to change with each bag purchase. You finish your bag of chicken, so buy fish for the next one for example and so on, depending on the number of flavors available in the brand you give. Over time you may notice that your dog has his favorites or likes a flavor less … but alternating between 3 or 4 flavors is better than not alternating at all.
Another way to provide variety would be to change brands every now and then. Let’s say your dog has been eating one brand for a year or two, and there’s nothing stopping you from trying another product. There are so many great products on the market (I wrote a top 10 best brands in this article by the way) that it makes sense to me to try something else every now and then. The only downside when switching from one brand to another is that you have to make a transition by mixing the two products (old and new) for a few days in order for the dog’s stomach to get used to it. When trying another brand, start with a sample or a small bag to confirm that your dog will like it (if ever it is difficult).
In general, I find people too scared to switch brands. I see it a lot in conscientious people who are expecting their first dog (I was the same). We give ourselves the impression that we are going to make a very important choice for the whole life of our dog and it ends up being super stressful … for US! When people write to me asking for help making the “final” choice, say between two or three good brands, my response often surprises people when I tell them “make your dog choose” by showing them samples of the three brands and looking at what he’s naturally drawn to.
In short, changing is not negative … it is even recommended! You just have to know how to do it.
2. Buy too big bags
Another major mistake that I see too frequently: people with small dogs and buying huge bags!
Did you know that once the bag is opened and in contact with air, the kibble slowly begins to mold? And yes…
The last step in making a kibble before packaging is to spray it with a source of fat (eg fish oil, animal fat, artificial flavor, etc.) to give it flavor. However, this fat will start to oxidize as soon as you open your bag. Result: after a few weeks, micro fungi will be created on your dog’s kibble.
Have you ever noticed that towards the end of the bag, your dog loses interest in his kibble? So you buy him a new bag of the same product (if you don’t do a rotary diet) and as if by magic… your dog then becomes super interested in eating again! Yet it is the same product. It’s not magic … he was just fed up with eating his croquettes with mushrooms!
In an ideal world (depending on protein), your dog’s bag should be completely used up within 2 to 3 weeks. In reality, no one does that… I recommend that you use up your entire bag in about a month, which is fine. So if your dog is 4 lbs and you buy the big 25 lbs bag and tell me (proudly) that it will last 6 months … tell yourself that each time I have a bit of pain for your dog who will eat oxidized kibble 10 out of 12 months in his year.
It costs a little more to buy smaller bags … yes … but a sick dog will cost you even more!
3. Put the croquettes in a plastic container
This is a major mistake made by many of you: as soon as the new bag of kibble is opened, you hasten to empty it all into a nice plastic container! Yet this is one of the worst things you can do!
Remember I was telling you about the fat sprayed on the kibble before the packaging step? Well, if you put the kibbles directly into a plastic container, this fat will stick to the walls of the plastic container and again create mold (invisible to the naked eye). Even if you wash the bin frequently, the mold will remain embedded in the plastic which is a porous surface and washing will not change anything!
Plus, plastic is created using various chemicals that react with the kibble to release BPA, BPS, and phthalates, which are proven to cause hormonal issues and cancer. In 2013, the University of Texas proved that even tiny parts (one part per trillion) can affect how cells in the body work. In the same study, 90% of the 500 plastics tested were shown to release these chemicals naturally. Imagine how much the percentage increases once you add the reaction that happens when the fat in kibble oxidizes on contact with air every time you open the container to feed your dog!
Alternatively, you won’t have this problem by using a glass or ceramic container (as long as you wash it frequently). If despite all this you want to continue using your plastic container: put your entire BAG of kibble in the plastic container. The kibbles remain in their bag and the bag goes in the plastic container. This is acceptable. In addition, in the event of a problem (eg: recall of kibble) you will always have your bag to check the lot number to find out if your bag is affected by the recall.
4. Buy a kibble for a supplement or ingredient in the bag
Are you one of those who buy a brand of kibble because it contains a supplement such as glucosamine (to relieve joint problems) or cranberries (urinary problems)? If so, you are probably the victim of a big marketing stunt!
Glucosamine, no kibble contains enough of it to provide real relief to a dog, and cooking kills a lot of it, not to mention. But let’s do the exercise, just to prove my point:
To get noticeable relief, a dog will need 20 mg per pound of his weight. This therefore means that a 50 lbs. dog (which we will take as an example) will need 1000 mg of glucosamine per day.
When indicated by the manufacturer, a normal kibble will contain approximately 300 mg per kg. So for 1 kg of kibble we get 300 mg of glucosamine. Then, you should know that 4 cups of kibble equals 1 lbs. on average. 1 kg is therefore equal to 8.8 cups of dry food.
This means that if his food contains 300 mg of glucosamine per kg, your dog weighing 50 lbs. to have his 1000 mg of glucosamine will have to eat… 29 cups of food per day! You can see that it is impossible! He will become obese long before he sees any improvement in his joint pain …
But you will tell me that there are products higher in glucosamine. Yes, but again let’s see how much food a 50lb dog will need to eat to get its “dose” of 1000 mg per day:
Food containing 375 mg / kg: 23 cups per day
Food containing 500 mg / kg: 18 cups per day
Veterinary joint food ($ 120 per bag) containing 950 mg / kg: 9 cups per day
So, you can see that even with the “joints” kibble from the veterinarian, your dog will have to eat 9 cups a day … while the recommended portion for a 50 lbs dog is 3.5 cups which will only provide 377 mg of glucosamine … while it would take him 1000 mg per day! Let’s say we’re a long way off … and I’m not even telling you about the quality of these supplements put in the kibble versus what you will buy separately.
In short, all this mathematics to make you understand that a supplement, you add it yourself separately to ensure the right dosage and its quality. To think that it will be found in good concentration in a product like kibble is to live in a world of hugs.
5. Do not read the list of ingredients
The first thing you should do when looking at a kibble is read its ingredient list no matter where you buy your kibble. You’d be surprised to read how high-priced foods are filled with low-end ingredients (feathers, sawdust (wood), animal by-products, etc.), which are sold to you for a quality product ($ 100 and + the big bag).
But no matter where it comes from, at $ 100 a big bag, the ingredient list should contain plenty of MEAT! Not corn or wood!
Then, reading the ingredient list, do you see several vitamin additions (A, B, D, E)? If so, then the manufacturer had to add synthetic vitamins, which are always less well absorbed by the dog’s body than those naturally contained in the ingredients. Why should he add more? Because the basic ingredients are not nutritious enough and do not contain enough.
Additionally, do you also see unfamiliar names beginning with “L-…” such as: L-lysine? In this case, it is amino acids added again because the ingredients are of too low nutritional quality. The more amino acids you see added (L-lysine, L-carnitine, DL-methionine, etc.) the more it is an indicator that the product is low in meat as these amino acids are present almost only in meat.
By reading the list of ingredients then you will know what you are really buying … because the design of the bag your dog does not care. What matters to him is to be well fed and for this part he can only count on you.