Blog Series #1: Why No More Kibble? Our Journey from Kibble to Fresh Feeding.

November 25, 2019, I started the blog series:

“Why Choose Fresh Food vs. Kibble”

This is a question discerning pet parents are asking more and more. And for good reasons! Above all, you want to make the best choices for your dog. After all, they are family! So, we want to feed them like family.

But that is hard to do when there is conflicting and misleading information out there. Therefore, pet parents, have a hard time deciding on why they should choose a fresh food diet.

Dog choosing raw over kibble

Dog choosing raw over kibble

The Catalyst: Why No More Kibble?

What abruptly opened my eyes to no more kibble? My eyes and heart were cracked wide open, five years ago with a trip to the emergency vet.

I was completely caught off guard, nothing had been on my radar of any possible concerns.  I thought everything was fine.

Isabella was suddenly in high distress. One minute she seemed fine and the next minute she was turning inside out! I had no idea what was happening. In hindsight, this must have been building over a period of time. This is not nice to think about so we won’t dwell on it.

In the wee hours of the morning, she started pacing uncontrollably, licking the floor incessantly, she could not settle. It was clear she was in pain and discomfort. But from what???

Diagnosis: Blocked Colon

Trip to the Emergency Vet

On physical examination and x-ray, they could see that she had a blocked (obstructed) colon. 

anatomy of a dogs organs

Anatomy of a dog’s organs

Anatomy of a Dogs Colon:

  • What is this? The portion of the intestinal tract located between the small intestine and the rectum. The colon is part of the large intestine which runs between the small intestine and the rectum. The large intestine is comprised of the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal.
  • Why is the colon present? For absorption of water and nutrients.
  • Intestinal obstruction is very painful and can be dangerous… If your dog has an intestinal obstruction they will not only be in a lot of pain, they will also be at risk for serious consequences and if left untreated can lead to death within a few days.

Treatment Prescribed

They had to give her an enema to expel the material that was blocking her colon. Once expelled the vet described the material as “sawdust-like” material.  Her colon was 100% packed with it!

I’m very thankful to that emergency vet who did exactly the right things and was spot on with her observation of what the material was that had caused the blockage, or I may never have known and continued on our kibble path, with the same food!

Thankfully, Isabella was back to normal very quickly after this. With the exception of a few recurring UTI’s after the enema. Then she was on the road to recovery!

happy veterinarian or holding dachshund dog at vet clinic

Happy veterinarian holding dachshund dog at the vet clinic

Now What?

Needless to say, this news was disturbing and at first puzzling. You start to ask yourself:

  • Question: What does she ingest the most, every single day that could lead to such a shocking result? Answer: Food.
  • Question: What food is she currently eating? Answer: Vet Prescribed Kibble.

Shocking Realization

So, I realized it was more than likely her kibble that was causing this. But I was still very confused as to what exactly could possibly be in her food that could have caused this.

Remember I was one of those trusting pet parents. I trusted our vet’s advice on what was best to feed my dog. Until this moment in time, I had no reason to second guess what I was feeding my dog. 

Next Move

Next, I called Rodney Habib, Pet Health & Longevity expert (we live in the same city and I shop at his store Planet Paws). I was confident he could help us!

I explained what happened. And he said, “Wendy, go get your bag of kibble”. I went and got the bag, and jumped back on the phone with him. Then he said to me, “read me the ingredients”. So I started to read the ingredients, he stopped me after I read the first ingredient!

That first ingrediant was POWDERED CELLULOSE!

He then asked me, “do you know what powdered cellulose is?” I answered, “no”.

Rodney explained to me that Powdered Cellulose is, wood pulp (sawdust)! It is used to bulk up the food and increase the satiety (feeling of fullness) level of certain dog foods. It is used for fiber content and for weight management.

powdered cellulose, sawdust

Pile of wooden sawdust otherwise known as powdered cellulose

Alarming Discovery Number Two

The next alarming discovery is that this particular food not only contains powdered cellulose (sawdust) as the number one ingredient, but it contains 18.8% fiber which is an excessive amount of fiber!!! Which can be primarily attributed to the powdered cellulose, since it is the number one ingredient.  There is also pea fiber and psyllium husk in this food. More fiber!

Most dog foods range from 1-10 percent in fiber content on the guaranteed analysis. Moderate levels of fiber, are in the 2-4 percent range, this a realistic goal when selecting dog food.

Satiety Support Kibble containing powdered cellulose

Satiety support kibble containing powdered cellulose

Why I Was Feeding This Food

Most noteworthy, I was feeding this food because our vet at the time prescribed it. I presented our vet with the problem I was having with Isabella at the time, about her alway’s feeling hungry. And maintaining a healthy weight was on my radar as well.

We build a relationship of trust with our vets. And look to them to help in times of need. Unfortunately, the other thing that I learned because of this incident is the:

  1. Profound lack of nutrition education veterinarians are provided in vet school. Not there fault. (So, pet parents have to do our own research and educate ourselves)
  2. The nutrition information they are provided is biased toward the large kibble manufacturers due to the kibble manufacturers sponsoring the veterinary schools and their programs.

Today I’m very happy to see it is starting to be recognized there is a need for true nutrition education in veterinary schools. And there are efforts happening to provide bonafide nutrition education.

Why is this food prescribed?

This line of vet prescribed food is used specifically for dogs who alway’s feel hungry or never feel satisfied (satiated) no matter how much they eat. And is used for weight management. So, it’s also prescribed for dogs who need to lose weight.

However, this ingredient can be found in other kibble products that are not designed for satiety support (weight loss) as well as other dog food-related products. So you need to watch for it and avoid it.

woman and her beloved dog looking forward on a mountain forest top

Pet parent and her beloved dog looking forward on a mountain forest top

I have not looked back. Only forward!

This was the moment of truth that caused me to stop feeding kibble! I have not looked back. Only forward!

From that moment on I stopped feeding kibble and started to do more research on what else I didn’t know about Kibble! And there was a lot!!!

Powdered Cellulose Is Dangerous

Question: Why powdered cellulose should be avoided?

  1. Answer: Keeps your pet from absorbing vital nutrients.
  2. Answer: Excess amounts can cause intestinal blockages

Why no more kibble?

Powdered cellulose has a high amount of insoluble fiber (incapable of being dissolved), and too much of it can hinder your dog’s ability to digest vital nutrients such as protein and minerals.

It’s important to remember that wild canines and felines have no physiologic requirement for the plant fibers used in most processed pet food. The only fiber wild dogs and cats ingest is whatever is found in the already-digested stomach contents of their prey, *plus fur, tendons, and ligaments.

Although the amount of fiber in the diet of wild dogs and cats is small, it serves a very important role. Dogs and cats fed processed commercial diets very often benefit from the addition of a small amount of the right kind of fiber, which is fiber that closely mimics the *GI contents of small prey animals.

When your dog or cat consumes unnecessary fillers, like wads of fiber, it inhibits digestion and absorption of many vital nutrients. A small amount of fiber is very important, but a diet loaded with fiber is very detrimental.

Dr. Karen Becker, say’s “If you’re feeding your dog or cat a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet with appropriate supplementation, including pet probiotics and digestive enzymes, and she’s easily producing small, firm stools, she’s getting the amount of fiber she needs.”

Quote from: healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/07/15/pet-food-ingredients-to-watch-for.aspx.

Feed a Fresh, Nutritionally Complete, Species Appropriate Diet to prevent IVDD episodes

Feed a Fresh, Nutritionally Complete, Species Appropriate Diet to prevent IVDD episodes

In Conclusion

Here I am today, five years later. Feeding a fresh, species-appropriate, nutritionally complete diet. As an informed pet parent I want to share our journey from kibble to fresh food with other pet parents who want to be informed.

It was a very steep learning curve initially! But with education from some of the most knowledgable and trusted pet nutrition experts in the industry, I was able to find my way. And so will you!

Most noteworthy, when I look back, I really did it one day at a time! With the guidance of those trusted experts. Thank you to each one you!

Next In this Blog Series:

Why choose fresh food vs. kibble for my dog? Why no more kibble?

  1. Dangerous ingredients in kibble
  2. Questionable ingredients in Kibble
  3. Kibble is not a species-appropriate diet
  4. Why kibble is not the best choice for health & longevity
  5. Kibble causes inflammation & disease
  6. Benefits of fresh food & why it is species-appropriate and  nutritionally complete
  7. The basic guidelines of feeding a fresh, species-appropriate, nutritionally complete diet

So stay tuned for the upcoming articles in this series. 

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It’s my sincere hope you will find something that resonates with you! And helps move you forward to making, even more, good choices for your Cherished Hound.

Before you start any new protocol with your dog, particularly if they are on medication, or suffering from an acute illness or condition, you MUST check with your veterinarian prior to starting any new protocol.  Please do not use the content from this blog in place of veterinary care!

I love connecting with pet parents. You might even see the answer to your question in an upcoming blog article! Feel free to reach out, and be sure to stay tuned for more!

What’s in your bowl? Leave us a comment we love hearing from you!

Do you have a question for the IVDD pet community? Or a topic you would like to see covered. Click here to send us an email!!!

The Catalyst. What abruptly opened my eyes to no more kibble? My eyes & heart were cracked wide open, five years ago with a trip to the emergency vet.

About the author: Wendy Haines is a dog health blogger and devoted dog mom with 12 years of experience creating optimal health for her dog. Wendy’s goal is to help fellow dog owners manage an IVDD diagnosis, prevent IVDD episodes, make healthy diet choices and lifestyle changes with the goal of creating optimal health for your dog!

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