The drawbacks of dry puppy food
If your puppy has a sore mouth, it might turn its nose up at hard kibble. You can always soften food with some water until your pup has recovered.
Kibble’s lower price point is often driven by the quality of ingredients. Some products contain high levels of carbs like corn or rice, which help bind the food during the manufacturing process. There are a lot of cheap fillers, like cellulose, that can be hidden in kibble. Of course, those ingredients aren’t really hidden — pet owners do need to dig through the ingredient list on the packaging to figure out what’s in any specific brand or formulation of kibble.
At the lower end of the spectrum, kibble often contains ‘meat,’ and ‘meat or animal by-product meals’. One of the potential pitfalls of these ingredients is they are non-specific — you don’t know for sure what protein makes up the meals and it can only be any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats. Similarly, poultry meal can mean solely chicken, or turkey, or chicken, and turkey.
Meat meal, or poultry meal, is the rendered product from mammal tissues. Anything labeled ‘by-product’ can include heads, feet, or viscera. As a puppy owner, it’s nice to know exactly what type of protein your pup is eating so you know what to cut out of their diet if they develop food allergies or sensitivities down the line. So avoid ‘meals’ or generic ‘meat’ if you can.
Always look for a protein taking the top couple spots in the ingredient list so that you know you’re getting a protein focussed food for your puppy.
Some kibbles also contain artificial coloring — puppies don’t need their food to come in pretty colors. Colored food is entirely about satisfying the human that is purchasing the food. Food dyes are complicated and controversial — the FDA writes extensively on the history and approval of food dyes.
Dehydrated food, which is kibble shaped, is often (not always) formulated and marketed as grain-free. Some pet owners are steering clear of grain-free foods after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported it was looking into a connection between grain-free foods and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Between Dec. 1 2018, and April 30 2019 the FDA got 219 reports of dogs with DCM. These dogs were eating foods that contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, and other legumes or potatoes. Estimates suggest there are over 70 million dogs in American households, so only a small number of pets were impacted. However, it’s something for dog owners to consider. DCM is a serious illness that can be fatal.