Fuel-Up Fridays: Kibble and Cereal

I actually have a problem with the statement that giving your dog kibble is like you eating nothing but cereal every day. You would think that considering I’m not a huge fan of kibble that I would actually love that statement, but the problem is that I find it quite inaccurate. For starters, what kind of cereal are we talking about? If you snack on all natural granola every day then kibble goes through a lot more processing than your cereal (on the other hand, there’s a few cereals out there that could probably make kibble look like it was harvested straight from a tree). The issue still goes further than that though, and I don’t think the two can be fairly compared.

Like kibble, most breakfast cereals are fortified to give people the nutrients that might otherwise be lacking in their diet. This is done through adding synthetic chemical compounds that mimic the natural vitamins and minerals found in the foods not commonly eaten. For example, on average the required levels of B12 will not be met unless you eat something like liver or clams. Because most people don’t eat these things, at least not on a regular basis, a compound commonly known as cyanocobalamin is added to foods we do often eat (like some breakfast cereals). However cereal, while fortified, does not contain all the nutrients we need daily while kibble is often fortified to contain 200% of your dog’s daily requirements. So if you ate nothing but cereal every day you would quickly become deficient in most nutrients, whereas your dog will not become deficient if fed only kibble. This is the key difference between cereal and dog kibble.

Even if you added powdered vitamins to your cereal to supplement everything lacking, the other difference is the ingredients. I’ll use Frosted Mini Wheats as my example cereal. According to their website the ingredients are:

“Whole grain wheat, sugar, contains 2% or less of brown rice syrup, gelatin, BHT for freshness.  Vitamins and Minerals: Reduced iron, niacinamide, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), zinc oxide, folic acid, vitamin B12.”

So if you ate nothing but cereal your diet would consist nearly exclusively of wheat. Compare that to the average dog food label and kibble contains a lot more variety. Yes, technically it’s still the same foods every day, but the list at least contains more than five items. The reason for this is because kibble is designed to be eaten for every meal so it requires a variety of foods, whereas cereal isn’t meant to encompass the entire diet.

Where I do feel the two can be compared is that both are best when served with fresh food alongside them, especially fruits and vegetables. If your dog can digest dairy products there’s absolutely nothing wrong with adding a little milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese to his chow every now and then. Generally skim milk or low fat yogurt is recommended, but I actually found Suki’s digestive tract is much happier with regular yogurt. A few other great additions are chopped apples (be careful to avoid the seeds, core, and stem), tomato (steam it for an added hit of lycopene), blueberries, bell pepper, pumpkin, or even cinnamon and ginger. If your dog is one of the few that enjoys citrus fruits then oranges are another good food. Since it’s Fall a great seasonal mix-in could be yogurt with a spoonful of pumpkin and a pinch of cinnamon and ginger. When stirred together it would be like topping your dog’s food off with a slice of pumpkin pie.

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