Natural Diets for Dogs: 5 Alternatives to Kibble

For a variety of reasons, including preservatives, risks of pet food contamination, food allergies, and the lack of balanced nutrition, kibble is typically not the best food for dogs. If you’re interested in switching your dog to a more natural diet, though, it can be daunting wading through the dizzying array of other diets available. Feeding your dog a nutritionally balanced diet, however, does not have to be complicated.

Here are five excellent alternatives to feeding your dog kibble:

Whole Prey Raw Foods Diet

Whole prey model diets aim to mimic what dogs eat in the wild with minimal weighing, processing, and cooking. Many people feeding a whole prey model simply opt to give their dog whole animals or whole parts of animals tailored to the dog’s weight and specific daily dietary needs. I feed my dogs a slightly modified whole prey model that doesn’t require me to feed them literal whole animals. You can read more about how to start with that diet here.

BARF Diet

Despite its odd-sounding name, this diet has a long and successful history as an alternative to kibble. Developed by an Australian vet, the BARF diet stands for either, “Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods” or “Bones and Raw Food”. BARF diets can be bought prepackaged and balanced for you, or you can learn how to create a BARF diet at home using a mix of meats, bones, and pureed vegetables. You can learn more about the BARF diet on the BARF website here.

Cooked Diets

Some owners are squeamish about the idea of feeding their dogs raw meat, and in this case, a cooked diet is still a better alternative than kibble. Try giving your dog 2-3% of her weight every day, 80% of which should be meat. Cook hamburger, chicken, or pork very lightly or consider just lightly boiling. Then add in pureed vegetables. It’s important that the vegetables be pureed because dogs’ systems cannot break down the cellulose in vegetables without pureeing. With this diet, it’s a good idea to supplement with a multivitamin because, without feeding animal organs or bones, your pet may miss out on a few nutrients that must be supplemented.

Frozen Raw Diets

If you like the convenience of pre-packaged kibble or don’t trust yourself to correctly proportion diets for your dogs, prepackaged raw diets can be an excellent option. Several companies offer these diets, including Steve’s Real Food and Nature’s Variety. With these diets, you’re paying a little extra for convenience, but a low-stress healthy diet can be worth the extra cost!

Whole Foods Kibble

If you’re concerned about the radical switch to a real food diet, whole foods kibble can be an excellent option. These diets contain fewer fillers, no preservatives, and are high protein. Your dog won’t get the dental benefits that come with other diets, but the other health benefits will still accrue to your dog. Try Canidae or Wellness and you’re likely to see a rapid change in your dog’s skin and coat health.