Kibble vs. Canned vs. Home-cooked Food: Which Is Best?

Kibble vs. Canned vs. Home-cooked Food: Which Is Best? - Sniff & Bark

Kibble vs. Canned vs. Home-cooked Food — which is best for your dog? We’ll tell you the pros and cons of each as well as when to serve each kind of dog food.
09/20/2022 | Sniff & Bark

As loving dog moms, we want our fur babies to stay healthy and strong for as long as possible. A big part of that responsibility entails giving them a wholesome diet that’s full of the nutrients our dogs need.

But with so many options out there, it can be difficult to tell sometimes what that means exactly. Between kibble, canned, and home-cooked food — which is the best option and why?

Today we’re going to demystify what these different diet options offer. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each so you can be a wiser dog mom when it comes to your pet’s diet.

What You Need To Know About Kibble

Kibble is convenient, affordable, widely available, and can be bought in large quantities, making it the most convenient of the three options. When stored unopened, it can last for up to 18 months. These dry pellets are versatile since they can be served wet or dry, and can be mixed with other types of food like home-cooked dishes or canned food to make it more interesting for your pet. 

When you serve your dog kibble, you’re giving your canine a mixture of ground-up ingredients that have undergone a process called extrusion which causes the food to lose some of its nutrients. These ingredients usually include grains, meats, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

The great thing about kibble is it generally contains a balanced diet so you don’t have to stress about what to give your dog and how much to give. You only need to check the ingredients and give your dog measured portions based on its size, age, activity levels, and general health.

These four factors are also the factors that determine your dog’s specific nutritional needs. Protein, for example, is very important for puppies that have just been weaned and senior dogs that may no longer be as efficient at processing this vital nutrient. If you want to be sure about your dog’s nutritional needs, it’s best to consult a vet.

Most dogs will benefit from kibble that contains:

  • Protein from animals
  • Healthy fats like fish oil
  • Fuits and vegetables that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals
  • Ingredients that contain natural antioxidants such as cranberries, tomatoes, apples, and blueberries.

Main Advantages to Your Dog’s Health

Its major advantages to your dog’s health include healthier gums, lower risk of bacterial contamination, and less dental plaque. 

Main Disadvantages to Your Dog’s Health

When ingredients have been mashed up and combined, it can be difficult to be discriminating about kibble’s ingredients, even with the printed list on the package. You won’t know the animal parts that were used or their condition. 

Kibble can also have preservatives, additives, chemicals, food coloring, etc. 

Plus, kibble is known to cause skin problems like itchiness, dryness, and allergies.

What You Need To Know About Canned Food

Wet or canned food for dogs is tasty, comes in a wide variety of flavors, and is loved by picky canines. As long as it remains unopened, canned food can be kept in storage for up to two years. However, it’s the more expensive option of the two. If you’re wondering how much pricier it is, a ballpark estimate is each pound costs 33 cents more than dry food.

It’s created by pulverizing the meat ingredients or sources of protein until it has a consistent texture. A gravy-like sauce with grains, minerals, and vitamins (many of the same ingredients as kibble) is then poured onto the mix before it’s cooked, sterilized, and canned. This process leaves the flavor intact. Canning standards also mean that the use of artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, and preservatives is limited and carefully monitored.

The food that comes out of a can is thus more moist and has a richer texture that resembles real meat. The higher moisture content can help keep dogs hydrated and avoid problems with their urinary tracts. 

In terms of nutrition, wet food contains the same amount of protein as kibble but has fewer carbs and calories. This can be a major selling point for dog parents whose pets have food sensitivities or are overweight.

Main Advantages to Your Dog’s Health

Wet dog food is a good source of protein, has more natural fats (a good thing), has fewer carbohydrates and calories, and has fewer additives. Since it’s more filling, your dog may eat their fill sooner. 

Main Disadvantages to Your Dog’s Health

Some canned food contain an unhealthy amount of fat. Unlike kibble, it doesn’t support dental health. So, if your dog is on a purely wet food diet, you may need to adopt a separate dental care routine. Wet food also spoils more quickly. Any remaining food after four hours should be properly discarded.

What You Need To Know About Home-cooked Food

Cooking your dog’s food at home has a lot of potential nutritional benefits but it’s also the most time-consuming and requires the most planning. 

It affords you the greatest control over what your dog eats, its nutritional value, and the quality of the ingredients. Take your time and study what a balanced diet for your dog looks like. Make it a point to be aware of what toxic ingredients for dogs are. Many of the ingredients we use for day-to-day cooking aren’t safe for our four-legged friends. This list includes garlic, onions, avocado, grapes, etc. 

Once you’re aware of your dog’s nutritional needs, you can find go-to recipes that you can prepare in large batches and in advance to minimize daily preparation.

This is an especially great option if you have a pet with specific dietary needs or food intolerance. 

Main Advantage and Disadvantage to Your Dog’s Health

Home-cooked food can be a double-edged sword since your dog’s nutrition will depend on how familiar you are with what it needs and your knowledge of potentially poisonous ingredients. 

After you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve become used to the cooking routine, however, home-cooked food can be just as flavorful and nutritious (perhaps even more so) than commercially available dog food.

Here’s What You Should Remember…

  • - You can give your dog kibble or canned food every day. They have many of the same ingredients.
  • - If you have a dog with food sensitivities or a weight problem, wet and home-cooked food that are low in fat and calories are ideal.
  • - Kibble is useful for maintaining your dog’s dental health.
  • - If your canine is a picky eater, wet dog food has more varieties, a richer texture, and more flavor than kibble.
  • - Canned food packs in more moisture and can help keep your dog hydrated.
  • - It’s okay to give your dog a combination of kibble, home-cooked food, and canned food to take advantage of their individual benefits.
  • - Always consult a vet to find out your dog’s specific nutritional needs.


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