How Is Kibble Made?

A Short History of Kibble

Spratt's Dog CakesHow is kibble made? Let me give you a quick history on kibble. The first ever commercial dog food was created in 1860 by American electrician James Spratt. After travelling to the UK to sell lightening rods, James noticed that dogs were eating the hardtack (dry biscuits sailors used to eat) left on the ground by the waterfront. This hardtack had a long shelf life, and James decided dog owners needed something similar. He called his product Spratt’s Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes. They were comprised of grains, beetroot, vegetables and cheap beef parts.

Fast forward to 1922: Ken-L Ration canned dog food was released. This was a better option than Spratt’s because they actually used meat, but they used horse meat! Horses were being bred specifically for this purpose. Cue World War 2. The war effort was in need of metal, so companies everywhere donated their metal. Now, dog food companies were forced to come up with a shelf-stable food because they could no longer use metal cans. Not to mention people weren’t too happy when they found out how many horses were being slaughtered for dog food.

In the 1950s General Mills bought the business that James Spratt had created. Purina and General Mills were both experimenting with creating a palatable, shelf stable dog food, and in 1956 the first kibble was released.

Processing Kibble Kills Nutrients

Kibble is made through a process called extrusion. Ingredients are combined in the machine, heated to extremely high temperatures, and then pushed, or extruded, through a die to form the shape of kibble we all recognize. Yes, the food is shelf stable and will last for years, but everything good in the food has been killed. What comes out of the machine is a dry, tasteless, and dead brown mass. So much is destroyed within the food that kibble companies have special blends of synthetic vitamins and minerals to inject back into the food so it actually has some nutritional value. ‘Some’ being the key word.

So much is destroyed within the food that kibble companies have special blends of synthetic vitamins and minerals to inject back into the food so it actually has some nutritional value

Now, the ingredients. Even if you were to use the best grass-fed beef and organic fruits and veggies to make kibble, it is still dead food after the processing. Everything in it is killed – even the flavour. That’s why companies spray a “palatability enhancer” on the kibble after it’s made so that dogs will actually eat it. Dogs have a lot fewer taste buds than we do, which is why they rely on scent to determine if something is tasty or not.

When humans eat processed foods, it causes an inflammatory response in your body, because your body doesn’t know what this compound is or how to deal with it. And it is the same for your dog or cat as well. All kibble is processed and causes the same response in your pets’ bodies. Canine obesity is huge problem these days. Cancer rates are higher than they have ever been. What gives? Simply put, inflammation leads to disease, whether it’s in humans or dogs or cats.

There Is Hope

There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what to feed your pet. Kibble is easy, and it is cheap, so it works for a lot of people. Is it ideal? Certainly not. I’m not here to bash kibble, because for some, there is no other choice of food for your pet, for whatever reason. But what I am here to do is educate. This is my passion, and all I want is to share my knowledge on ways to make your pet healthier. All knowledge I have gained through my journey so far has been from courses written by veterinarians and certified pet nutritionists.

Stay tuned to my article series on Pet Nutrition where I will help provide advice on how to improve your pet’s diet, no matter your situation.

Adam Harrington

View posts by Adam Harrington
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