Why Dry Dog Food Is Bad: The Potential Health Concerns

Let’s admit one thing: You and I both want the best for our furry pals. That includes what we put in their food bowls.

Although dry dog food has always been a staple on the shelves of pet stores, you may have heard some buzz about this kind of food not being a healthy option.

That’s why, in this article, I will explain why some folks are raising an eyebrow at the crunchy kibble.

Get ready to unravel the mystery of why dry dog food is bad in a way that even your pup will wag its tail in approval! 

Why Dry Dog Food Is Bad: 7 Reasons You Should Know

why dry dog food is bad

According to experts, the drawbacks of dry dog food include subpar ingredients, high-starch carbohydrate content, nutritional loss, an increased risk of bacteria, low moisture content, rancidity, and added chemicals.

It is hard to completely cut kibble out of your pet’s meals due to the convenience it offers.

However, these factors will make you think twice before relying solely on dry food. Let’s dive into the details: 

Subpar Ingredients

As highlighted in Earth Island Journal’s concerning research, kibble can contain any meat-based ingredient, no matter how rancid it is.

This includes discarded restaurant oils, diseased animals, and meat from unknown sources.

The way these ingredients are processed further supports this point. To make kibble, they are cooked for hours at high temperatures to eliminate any bacteria or viruses.

This procedure, also known as “rendering”, is meant to recycle components that are unsuitable to be human food. But that doesn’t mean they are suitable for your pet’s diet.


Aside from meat-based components, kibble is packed with high-starch carb. These are generally sourced from grains like corn, wheat, and rice.

The starch serves as a binding agent, holding the kibble together while creating its characteristic texture.

Dogs are descendants of wolves, and their dietary needs still need to echo their carnivorous heritage.

In the wild, they primarily consume fat and protein.

Kibble’s high amount of starch deviates from this ancestral diet, potentially affecting your furry friend’s overall health and well-being.

In the long run, excessive consumption of carbohydrates can lead to cortisol, glucose, and insulin spikes.

High-starch ingredients are also the culprit behind the canine obesity epidemic, which was nonexistent before kibble became the norm.

Nutritional Loss

As mentioned, the process of making dry dog food involves high levels of heat. This can destroy or degrade the essential vitamins and minerals present in the ingredients.

Heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin B or vitamin C, are particularly vulnerable during the procedure, leading to a low nutritional content in the final product.

This is among the biggest disadvantages of dry dog food.

To compensate for the nutrient loss, many manufacturers add synthetic vitamins after cooking.

While this practice aims to restore some nutritional value, synthetic nutrients are not as easy to absorb as their natural counterparts.

Furthermore, rendering may create harmful by-products. Heterocyclic amines, a type of carcinogen, are formed from cooking muscle meat.

As proven by experts, they can cause cancer in dogs.

Risks Of Bacteria

Which is healthier wet or dry dog food

The seemingly innocuous kibble in your dog’s bowl carries more than meets the eye.

While dry dog food might seem safe and shelf-stable, there are several points of vulnerability in the lifecycle of a package, and bacterial contamination can occur.

It is true that kibble’s processing destroys harmful bacteria. However, the drying and cooling phases will expose the food to moisture.

This creates an ideal environment for bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

Once moisture is reintroduced after opening the package, the dangers of dry dog food increase further.

These pose a risk not only to your dog’s health but also to the humans handling the food.

Depending on the amount consumed, contaminated dog food can lead to the following symptoms: 

  • Dehydration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Muscle tremors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling or nausea
  • Weakness or trembling
  • Panting 
  • Throwing up after eating dry food

To make matters worse, kibble is also susceptible to storage mites. Once they get into the package, these tiny creatures multiply rapidly.

Dogs with storage mite allergies may suffer from ear infections, skin problems, and excessive shedding.

Moisture Content

Why is dry dog food bad? This type of food has less than 10% of moisture content, significantly lower than the natural moisture content found in whole foods.

Unlike humans, dogs don’t drink enough water to compensate for this deficiency.

They might suffer from chronic low-level dehydration. Dehydration has severe consequences for your furry friend’s health and well-being.

It affects various body functions, including circulation, digestion, temperature regulation, and joint lubrication.

Thus, consuming only dry food will put your dog at risk of many health issues, from urinary tract problems to kidney disease.


Fats are essential in commercial dog food. They help enhance palatability and texture while contributing to a balanced nutritional profile.

Once you open a pack of kibble and expose the fats to oxygen, though, they can become rancid.

Rancid fats don’t only alter the taste and aroma of food but also pose potential health risks.

Consumption of these fats leads to gastrointestinal upset, including vomit and diarrhea.

Moreover, the breakdown of fats as they go rancid will result in the degradation of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, compromising the food’s nutritional integrity.

Chemicals & Additives 

To prolong shelf life and enhance flavor, many dry pet foods contain artificial flavors, additives, food dyes, and preservatives.

The problem is that most of these chemicals and preservatives are toxic.

A common chemical is butylated hydroxyanisole, also known as BHA. It serves as a preservation agent, preventing the fats’ rancidity.

While that sounds like a good thing, researchers have found a link between BHA and animal cancer.

Other chemicals you often find in kibble include BHT, glycol, and ethoxyquin. All of them can damage the dog’s liver and thyroid.

What To Feed Your Dog Instead?

Is it cruel to feed dogs dry food

What are the disadvantages to dry dog food? Fortunately, there is a world of options beyond the crunch.

Here are some wholesome alternatives to traditional dry food that can address the dietary imbalance and cater to your dog’s specific needs:

  • High-quality wet food: Canned or wet dog food is a popular alternative to kibble. It contains a higher moisture content, which can address hydration concerns. Look for brands that prioritize quality proteins, healthy fats, and minimal additives.
  • Home-cooked meals: Preparing balanced, nutritious meals at home is another option. Homemade meals allow the owner to control the ingredients and tailor the diet to the dog’s needs. However, ensuring that your homemade meals meet all the nutritional requirements is crucial.
  • Combining options: The best diet might involve a combination of various feeding options. For instance, you can incorporate a mix of high-quality kibble, wet food, and occasional raw food to provide your dog with a diverse and balanced diet.


Does Dry Dog Food Cause Health Problems?

Yes, dry food for dogs can cause health problems if not carefully chosen and managed.

Some common concerns include the low moisture content leading to dehydration, the use of low-quality ingredients contributing to nutritional imbalances, and the risk of bacterial contamination.

Can I Mix Dry Dog Food With Other Types Of Food?

Yes, you can mix dry dog food with other types of pet foods as long as you ensure a balanced and nutritious diet.

Combining dry dog food with high-quality wet food, fresh vegetables, or occasionally cooked meats can offer variety and improve hydration.

How Can I Ensure My Dog’s Diet Is Healthy?

To ensure your dog’s diet is healthy and boost its energy level, focus on providing a balanced, varied diet that includes high-quality protein sources, essential fats, and a mix of veggies.

Consult with a veterinarian if necessary to determine your pet’s specific nutritional needs based on factors like age, size, and activity level.

Which Is Healthier, Wet Or Dry Dog Food?

Both wet and dry dog foods have their pros and cons.

Wet food has a higher moisture content, which can help with hydration, while dry food maintains dental health with its crunchiness.

A healthy diet might be one that contains both types instead of relying solely on one.

Wrapping Up

Now you know why dry dog food is bad! Convenience might be a driving factor in feeding your dog kibble daily.

Still, the subpar ingredients, high-starch carbohydrates, low moisture contents, and other associated concerns might make you want to prioritize the pet’s health over ease.

Exploring alternative diets that align with each dog’s dietary requirements and consulting with veterinarians can help you make better choices that contribute to your furry friend’s well-being and happiness.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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