What's the Deal with Kibble?

Written by: 

Dr. Danielle Conway, DVM ACVIM Nutrition Board Eligible, CVA, VSMT  

Nutrition board-eligible veterinarian with extensive experience in integrative medicine and nutrition.  

Paw Prints

Are you perplexed by the ongoing debate surrounding pet food and wondering, "What's the deal with kibble?" There's a lot of misinformation out there, and fearmongering seems to be at an all-time high. Let's cut through the noise and explore the truth about kibble (these days often referred to as dry food) – a convenient, affordable, and well-established form of feeding your furry friend. According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, dry food is still the preferred pet food choice!  

Primary Type of Food Fed to Pet


What Type of Food Is Right for Your Dog?  

Your choice of what to feed your dog is entirely your decision, and if dry food doesn't suit your pooch, that's perfectly alright! However, ensure that your decision is well-informed and made from fact-backed claims and information. Consider the pros and cons based on your dog's needs, your lifestyle, budget, and other influencing factors. Trust reliable sources and consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist for the best decisions regarding your pet's nutrition.  

Addressing Common Misconceptions  

Let's address the elephant in the room – the misconceptions surrounding dry food. You may have heard critics talk about how dry food is cooked to death, and nutrients are lost in the cooking process. While certain nutrients can shift and diminish regardless of the manufacturing methods, inevitable variables like light exposure and time can also decrease certain nutrient levels, regardless of temperature. Rest assured, it is well-known and well-researched which nutrients shift during the extrusion process of making dry food so that they can be added back at the end. This process is essential not only for commercial dry food but also for homemade diets or raw food.  

How is Kibble Made?  

Let's take a moment to break down the extrusion process and how dry food is made. I like to compare the dry food-making process to that process of making pasta and baked goods. Beef jerky and energy bars also undergo a similar process.   

Selecting the Right Kibble Ingredients:

The first step in making dog dry food is setting a nutrient profile (amount of protein, calcium levels etc) and then selecting the ingredients, including grains, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The specific ingredients used can vary depending on the brand and formulation. I love Premium Nutrition because the main ingredient is organic, free-range chicken that has been raised with absolutely no antibiotics or hormones. 

Grinding and Mixing Kibble Ingredients:

The selected ingredients are ground and mixed to create a uniform blend, ensuring each dry food piece contains a balanced mix of nutrients. 

Cooking the Kibble:

The blended mixture is fed into an extruder, applying heat and pressure to cook the mixture as it passes through. This forms a dough-like substance.

Shaping the Kibble:

The cooked dough is pushed through a shaping die, forming the desired dry food shape, which can vary in size and form. 

Kibble Drying Process:

Dry food pieces are dried to reduce moisture content, preserving the food. This can be done through baking or air-drying. 

Make an Extra Delicious Dog Food (Optional):

Some manufacturers may add a coating or flavoring to enhance taste and appeal to dogs. 

Ensuring Your Dog Gets the Highest Quality Kibble:

Throughout the process, quality control measures ensure dry food meets standards for nutrition, safety, and consistency. We’d rather show, than tell, which is why ButcherBox For Pets gives all customers access to their food’s testing results. Visit Pet Food Safety Lab to see the results of your Premium Nutrition lot’s quality control testing.

Packaging the Kibble:

Once produced and quality-checked, dry food is packaged for distribution and sale, including essential information like feeding guidelines and expiration dates.

To put it more simply, dry food goes through the same process as bread does shown below!

Dry Food Process

What Is the Appropriate Temperature to Cook Dry Dog Food At?  

Dry pet food is cooked at temperatures similar to oven cooking (212°F to 392°F), avoiding the high temperatures of grilling (>400 degrees). Some worry this process removes essential nutrients and it’s important to note, just like cooking vegetables, some nutrient loss is inevitable. However, this is why it’s important to choose brands like ButcherBox For Pets that prioritize whole food ingredients that allow for minimal processing, and thus minimal nutrient degradation. Even if some nutrients are lost during cooking, brands like ButcherBox For Pets will compensate by adding bioavailable and well-researched vitamins and minerals, ensuring your dog maintains optimal health. 

At What Temperature Are Enzymes Destroyed in Pet Food?  

While enzymes are destroyed above 110°F, there's no health benefit to pets from these enzymes in food. Enzymes needed for digestion are produced by your pet's pancreas, not obtained from food. Denaturing enzymes in meat makes it easier for your pet to digest and utilize for various bodily functions.  

Final Thoughts  

In the world of pet nutrition, misinformation is rampant. Don't let fear dictate your choices. Dry food isn't the villain it's often portrayed to be. If you choose an alternative feeding method, that's perfectly fine, but make sure it's an informed decision based on reliable information and expert advice. At ButcherBox For Pets, we're committed to transparency, quality, and the well-being of your pets. With so much information and so many feeding options out there, we want to arm our customers with information that will allow them to make the decisions that are best for their pets and their lifestyle. Feed with confidence!  


Have any questions for Dr. Conway? Send them to us at pets@butcherbox.com!  

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