Why Fresh, Whole Food for Dogs?

October 22, 2021

It’s simple. We believe in feeding fresh, whole food for dogs because it’s the healthiest! (We also think it’s the tastiest!)

Recent studies show that the extent of processing food does, in fact, affect digestibility. The less processed the food, the more digestible the ingredients are. For example, one study, performed by Dr. Kelly Swanson, who advises Bramble on animal health and nutrition, and his colleagues at the University of Illinois, demonstrated high digestibility of a number of pet food products made with just cooked – not retorted (canned) or extruded (kibbled) – human-grade ingredients. In the gently cooked human-grade foods, the small intestinal amino acid digestibility was higher than for dry, kibble products.

When searching for a pet food, many pet parents are led to believe that certain categories of ingredients are good or bad for dogs. For example, there is a lot of marketing aimed at convincing us that dogs need meat or that dogs should not eat any grain. That is why we see grain-free kibble and dry food claiming to mimic the diet of a dog’s wolf ancestors, when in fact dogs are not wolves! In the evolution from their ancestor, dogs developed an increased capacity to digest and utilize starches from plant materials, attributed to their co-evolution with humans and the spread of agriculture around the globe.

According to Dr. Swanson, the ancestral or high-meat and grain-free approach can be quite misguided. “Animals require nutrients – not ingredients,” says Dr. Swanson. Therefore, the category of ingredients – such as meat or grain – is not as important as the nutrients they provide, the quality of ingredients and the extent of processing done to those ingredients. At the end of the day, meat-based kibble or grain-free kibble is still a highly processed dry product designed to sit on shelves for many months. Whereas fresh, whole food for dogs – even if comprised entirely of high quality, plant-based ingredients – provides all the nutrients and health benefits without any of the risky downsides of low-quality, over-processed junk food.

Indeed, as long as it is cooked, dogs can digest grain well. Some problems surrounding grain in pet food can be related to the quality – feed grade grain may have higher levels of contaminants, such as natural fungi, or may be extensively processed and lose nutritional value. Fresh, whole, human-grade grains are rich sources of energy, healthy fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins!

This is also true with plant versus animal protein. Dogs are omnivores, which means they can gain all of their essential amino acids and nutrients from carefully formulated plant-based diets. This is not to say that meat is bad for dogs; they are quite capable of obtaining nutrients from meat as well as non-meat foods. However, the kind of animal protein used by and large in the pet food industry is the same kind of animal protein used in processed human foods. We see many diseases associated with the Standard American Diet, full of processed meats from animals raised in unnatural environments with unnatural diets. Whereas plant protein, in comparison, has been demonstrated to have a wealth of health benefits.

How do you cut through all the noise in pet food marketing? Pay attention to quality and processing. High-quality, whole food ingredients that are minimally processed will simply be more digestible than low quality grain replacements or meat that is highly processed into dry food.

That is why at Bramble we chose to feed fresh, whole food for dogs. Because it’s healthier! We chose plant protein because it is healthy, cleaner, more sustainable and kinder to everyone. You can shop for our fresh, whole food recipes for dogs here!