There are a bunch of reasons to feed both kibble and raw at the same time. Maybe you’re switching your dog to raw, but need to mix both together to avoid digestive upset. Maybe 100 percent raw isn’t in your budget. Haven’t you heard that a little fresh food is better than none?
Mixing these two foods together can set your dog up for some unhappy, and even dangerous consequences. Fortunately, you can limit the downside with just a few tweaks.
This article from Dogs Naturally Magazine explains the dangers of combining kibble and raw.
How Your Dog Digests Food
Inside your dog’s digestive tract are little proteins called enzymes, which are responsible for digesting your dog’s food and turning it into energy. Protein will also be used to build structures in the body while fat will be used to build the walls of your dog’s cells.
Some digestive enzymes are found in the stomach, where food is predigested, and the rest are released from your dog’s pancreas. These pancreatic enzymes are released into the small intestine, where they complete the digestive process.
The stomach doesn’t just digest food, it also protects from bacteria or other harmful organisms that might be eaten along with his food. It does both of these jobs by secreting hydrochloric acid from its walls, which keeps the pH of the stomach around 2 (very acidic, the same amount of pH as vinegar).
How Acid Digests Bone
If you place a bone in vinegar, and let it sit 2-3 days, you’ll find you can easily bend the bone as if it were rubber. The acidic stomach and intestinal tract do the same when your dog eats a bone.
To summarize, the acids in your dog’s digestive tract:
- Release enzymes in the stomach to predigest food
- Inhibiting the growth of dangerous bacteria
- Release enzymes from the pancreas for further digestion
- Absorb minerals from your dog’s meal (like calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese)
If you plan on mixing raw food with kibble, this changes.
How Starch (From Kibble) Alters Digestion
One of the main differences between kibble and raw is the amount of starch (or carbohydrate) they contain. While most raw foods contain 0-15% carbohydrate with no starch, kibbles need starch to hold them together. Many kibbles are 30-60 percent starch.
When you feed your dog kibble, it alters digestion by:
- Interfering with digestion
- Increasing risk of illness from salmonella and other bacteria
- Can trigger allergies and immune disorders
- Can cause digestive upset
- Can cause mineral deficiency
- Can cause bowel obstruction
The starch in kibble will increase the pH of the stomach. The enzyme pepsin is responsible for breaking down protein in your dog’s meal, but it’s only released when the pH is below 2.
When the pH of the gut is increased (less acidic), then pathogenic bacteria like E coli and salmonella are more likely to survive and cause digestive upset or illness in your dog. Dogs are carnivores, and as such, have evolved to handle the bacteria in raw meats, but this is not always true if we change the pH in their digestive tract.
If undigested food enters the colon, it can disrupt the friendly bacteria and cause inflammation, which can cause diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. If the stomach isn’t acidic, the bones he eats will not be properly digested either. Minerals he needs from the bone pass without being absorbed, and he is at greater risk for bowel obstruction.
Make Kibble and Raw Combinations Safer
If you can control your dog’s pH, you can do a better job of transitioning your dog to a raw diet without diarrhea, vomiting or obstruction. And if you want to feed him both kindsd of foods, it will reduce his risk of getting sick from bacteria or having undigested bone stuck in his digestive track. Here are two simple solutions:
Adding probiotics to your dog’s meals carries two benefits. First, adding friendly bacteria will help crowd out harmful bacteria. Second, probiotics can actually lower the pH of the gut. Adding probiotics or fermented foods to your dog’s meals will help reduce the risk of combining kibble and raw.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic apple cider vinegar can also help lower the pH in the gut and this will make the food safer and allow your dog to absorb more important minerals from it. In fact, vinegar has the same pH as your dog’s gut when he’s fed raw and, like his gut, vinegar can kill 80-99% of the harmful bacteria in his food.
Just add a tsp to Tbsp for every 50 pounds of body weight.
Click here for more on apple cider vinegar.
Tips for Combining Kibble and Raw
- Add probiotics to lower pH
- Add organic apple cider vinegar to help absorb minerals
- Probiotics and apple cider vinegar will help digest bone and prevent obstructions