Mixing Raw and Kibble Dog Food

Dog lying next to bowl of food

You can’t get two types of dog food more different than raw dog food and dry dog food (otherwise known as kibble). One isn’t cooked at all, while the other is the most cooked form of dog food.

There’s also a price difference, with raw food generally costing considerably more than kibble. Quality is the biggest selling point of the former, but affordability is a pull for the latter.

This makes you wonder: Can you find a balance by mixing raw and kibble?

With so many types of dog food available and debate over which kind of dog food is best, you might think no two are compatible. That’s not the case according to Amy Zalneraitis, the CBO at 5-star-rated We Feed Raw.

Is it safe to mix raw dog food and kibble?

“Absolutely. We see it done each and every day with complete success. For many pet parents, especially those with multiple dogs in the home, mixing kibble with raw food can be a convenient and cost-effective way to integrate fresh, raw food into their dog’s diet.

“Dogs are perfectly capable of digesting different types of food at one time. And, yes, this includes the digestion of kibble and raw in the same meal.”

Will the blend cause digestive problems?

“Nope. Digestive problems are typically a result of a sudden change in diet and not a steady mix of kibble and raw. A dog’s gut bacteria will adapt quite easily to a mixture of both kibble and raw.”

What are the benefits of mixing raw dog food and kibble?

“While we’ll always believe a fully raw diet is best, we understand that this isn’t a feasible option for every pet parent all of the time. Adding even 10 percent raw food to your dog’s diet can have amazing and life-changing health benefits.

“Feeding raw as a topper, a base, or even just swapping a few fresh raw meals into your dog’s diet a few times a week can improve digestion, reduce allergies, boost immunity, and more. The goal is to get raw into as many dogs’ bowls as possible.

“For some pet parents that means feeding raw for every meal and for others that means feeding a raw percentage and supplementing with kibble.”

What ratio of raw and kibble should you use?

“There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Do what works best for your budget and lifestyle and remember that some fresh, raw food is always better than none.”

Should you stick to this ratio?

“You don’t have to. If there are times when you can increase the raw food you’re feeding, great. If there are times when you have to scale back, that’s fine too.”

How do you transition to a raw-kibble blend?

“If you’re currently feeding a fully kibble diet and you want to, say, increase to a 50/50 ratio of both raw and kibble, you’ll introduce the raw slowly over a 4-6 day period. By day six, you should be able to feed 50/50 ratio with no problem at all.”

How much cheaper is it to mix raw and kibble?

“It really depends. But if you’re feeding a fully raw diet and need a more cost-effective solution, you can usually cut your costs in half by switching to a 50/50 diet.”

Are there any myths about mixing kibble and raw food?

“Oh, yes. I’m not sure if these myths are an innocent result of misinformation or if they’ve been perpetuated by kibble companies or all-or-nothing raw feeders. Sadly, the myth that kibble and raw are dangerous to feed together has caused well-meaning pet parents to avoid adding fresh raw toppers to their dogs’ kibble bowls.

“A dog’s digestive system is thoroughly equipped to break down different food structures. In the words of our PhD nutritionist, ‘A dog’s metabolic machinery is perfected by millions of years of evolution to thrive on variety just fine.’”

In fact, a fitting analogy would be to look at how we humans eat: we mix foods that digest differently (meat and bread, for example) all the time and our digestive systems handle it just fine. The same goes for our dogs. A healthy dog can handle foods that digest at different rates with no problem at all.”

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