A Dog’s Diet and His Behavior; Kibble Versus Whole Foods


Let’s start from the beginning. Kibble became popular and started dominating the market after WWII. What is it? Kibble is hard cooked pellets, a lot like our morning sugar filled cereal. Dry kibble feeds the majority of American pets which is more than 60% of sales. It is produced by the extrusion process which is very similar to the way that certain breakfast cereals are made.



  1. All the ingredients are mixed together, creating a dough substance.
  2. The dough is heated in the preconditioner before going to the extruder.
  3. The extruder is like a giant meat grinder which is where the primary cooking process takes place. The dough is then cooked under extreme heat and pressure as it moves toward the open end of the extruder. The hot dough goes through a shaping die and knife where the pieces quickly expand into kibble when they are under standard air pressure.
  4. The kibble is then moved into an oven to dry until all moister content is low to make it shelf stable. Then cooled.
  5. Typically food then goes through a machine that sprays the kibble with a flavor enhancer.
  6. The last step is where the kibble is packaged into its bag or box.



Did you know that cooking food changes its nutritional value and the actual food compound?

A simple example is the vitamin C content of a raw versus a cooked apple. Vitamin C is lost when its exposed to heat. A medium apple contains 8.4 milligrams of C, but after cooking it contains 0.4 milligrams. This is one of example of the majority of cooked foods; whole foods have heat sensitive nutrients.

When kibble is cooked it loses much of the nutrients forcing the petfood companies to then add synthetic vitamins rather than allowing our dog to gain the nutrition he needs from the actual food.

Processed Food Cooked over 118°F has little to no value.

This raises the question, how well is the dog’s body processing the synthetic vitamins? Many times the body doesn’t recognize synthetic vitamins. Secondly, wouldn’t it be better for a dog’s body to get the nutrients from the actual food? Why not feed the real deal?


My Golden retriever, Morgan started my intrigue and research with nutrition. She kept getting diarrhea. I know she is not alone. Many pets are suffering from this ailment.

How can a dog focus, take treats, and concentrate during the training process when their stomach is hurting or they are diving to the door for the next “run”?

It was horrible to watch Morgan go through this. Morgan was experiencing food allergies, but also lacked good bacteria in her diet.

Fortunately for us, we have a lot of bacteria “fellas” on our side to include: b. animalis, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus,L. fermentum, L. reuteri, and L. salivarious.

Generally speaking they will promote a healthy gut and in my opinion this is a very important aspect for a dog’s health and nutrition because the gut absorbs all the nutrients in the body as it digests and breaks down food. If the “gut” is not good the rest of the body isn’t either.

Good bacteria promotes health.

There is a reason that acidophilus and other good bacteria is kept in the refrigerated section of your local Whole Foods; it keeps the bacteria alive. It’s living.

Many things kill bacteria like heat, chemicals, and pH. When they die it’s in a logarithmic pattern which is just a fancy way of saying that for every second it’s exposed to the stress the number of bacteria cell’s dies per second increases by factors of 10. In other words, they won’t last long in these conditions.

What happens to the good bacteria in the production of dog food? It dies. The intentions with cooked/extrusion kibble was good, but an epic fail as far as offering your dog what he needs in his diet.



The biggest difference between raw and cooked food

In order for your dog’s body to fuel its cells he needs enzymes. Raw food is packed full of enzymes.

Enzymes is fuel for healthy cells.

According to Dr. Howell, the food enzyme pioneer, “Neither vitamins, minerals or hormones can do any work — without enzymes.” He goes on to say, “Enzymes are substances which make life possible. They are needed for every chemical reaction that occurs in our body. Without enzymes, no activity at all would take place.”

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty big missing part of a kibble diet for dogs. 

Living foodsnourish the body.

Kibble for our dogs is maintaining a mediocre level of health. Is that what we really want? I would rather spend a few more dollars and put a small effort in food preparation knowing that I am not only promoting a healthy psychological state, but a longer healthier life for my pet.

Cooked food often passes into the bloodstream as unsplit molecules that are deposited, as waste, in various parts of the body. If it is a fat molecule we know it as cholesterol plaque; if calcium, arthritis; if sugar, diabetes. White blood cell count rises dramatically after ingesting a meal of canned or cooked foods (“digestive leukocytosis”). Elevated WBCs [white blood cell] are correlated to bacterial infection, inflammation and depressed immunity. Raw foods do not produce this reaction. All raw foods contain exactly the right enzymes required to split every last molecule into the basic building blocks of metabolism: Amino acids (from protein), glucose (from complex carbohydrates) and essential fatty acids (from unsaturated vegetable fats). http://www.living-foods.com/articles/rawvscooked.html

According to Dr. Howell, “Humans eating an enzyme-poor diet, comprised primarily of cooked food, use up a tremendous amount of their enzyme potential in the outpouring of secretions from the pancreas and other digestive organs.” The result, according to the late Dr. Edward Howell is a shortened life span, illness and lowered resistance to stress of all types. He points out that humans and animals on a diet comprised largely of cooked food have enlarged pancreas organs while other glands and organs, notably the brain, actually shrink in size.

A Dog’s Food and His Behavior

An enzyme deficiency in humans can cause fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, PMS, and depression. This is the just the hormonal side of things; the list of actual health effects is even longer. Essentially not eating a raw diet filled with enzyme is impacting a dog’s health and his behavior as it leads to fatigue, nervousness, and hormonal disturbances.

Enzymes Affect Hormones. Hormones Control Behavior.

My point being, enzymes are directly related to hormones and hormones control behavior. This was discussed in my previous blog on nutrition and behavior.

Now this has my attention! It’s time to consider a training regimen to include a whole foods diet to encourage the behaviors that we want. Could it be many times dogs are not focused and have poor compliance in the training process because of their diet?

Stay tuned for my next blog about food options that will promote health and focused behaviors for our dogs.
Blog written by Michelle Huntting



J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jul;101(1):131-8 Lactic acid bacteria isolated from canine faeces.



Dr. Emily Kane practices in Juneau, Alaska and can be reached at: (907)586-3655


“The Status of Food Enzymes in Digestion and Metabolism.” Dr. Howell

“Enzyme Diet.” Dr. Howell




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