Kibbles ‘n Bits (Dry)


Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food gets the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

The Kibbles ‘n Bits product line includes eight dry dog foods, seven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and one for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Small Breed
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits ‘n Beefy Bits
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Weight Maintenance
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Bistro Meals Grilled Chicken Flavor
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Bistro Meals Oven Roasted Beef Flavor
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Original Savory Beef and Chicken Flavor
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Homestyle Roasted Chicken & Vegetable Flavor
  • Kibbles ‘n Bits Homestyle Grilled Beef Steak & Vegetable Flavor

Kibble ‘n Bits Original Savory Beef and Chicken Flavor was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Kibbles 'n Bits Original Savory Beef and Chicken Flavor

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 15% | Carbs = 54%

Ingredients: Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat, animal fat (BHA used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, water sufficient for processing, animal digest (source of chicken flavor), propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, caramel color, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), titanium dioxide (color), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, calcium sulfate, yellow 5, red 40, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), wheat flour, dl-methionine

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis19%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%15%54%
Calorie Weighted Basis21%31%48%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The second ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The third ingredient is beef and bone meal, a dry rendered product from (beef) tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Beef and bone meal may have a lower biological value than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased protein quality may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

On the brighter side, beef and bone meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh meat.

In any case, beef and bone meal is not considered a better quality dog food ingredient.

The fourth ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The fifth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

What’s worse, this fat is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

The sixth ingredient is corn syrup. Corn syrup is a glucose-rich, high-calorie item of questionable nutritional value to a dog.

The seventh ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

Unfortunately, the variations in nutrient content found in wheat middlings can be a critical issue in determining their suitability for use in any dog food — or even livestock feeds.3

In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically associated with lower quality pet foods.

The eighth ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The ninth ingredient is animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With four notable exceptions

First, this food contains the controversial food moisturizer, propylene glycol. Propylene glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in making cat food.

But it can still be found in some lower quality dog foods.

Next, we note the inclusion of hydrochloric acid, also known by its chemical formula, HCl. HCl is most likely used here to help prevent mold growth by making the product more acidic.

While high concentrations of any acid can be dangerous, very small amounts of low-concentration HCl can be considered safe for use in both pet and human foods.

Next, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?

Caramel is a coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates.

And titanium dioxide is a white coloring agent. Although most claim the pigment to be a safe food additive, one international agency4 has classified titanium dioxide as a “Group 2B carcinogen” possibly linked to cancer in humans.

And lastly, this food is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Kibbles ‘n Bits looks like a below average dry dog food.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 23%, a fat level of 15% and estimated carbohydrates of about 54%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 56% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a limited amount of beef and bone meal or meat and bone meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

12/26/2009 Original review
07/31/2010 Review updated
05/17/2012 Review updated
11/27/2013 Review updated
11/27/2013 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, , Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  3. Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia
  4. International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • HappyTails

    Maybe you could gradually increase the quality of food over time and see if that works,since this is a 1 star food,try and switch him to a 2 star food and see if he will eat that,then after a little bit switch to a 3 star and so on until you find a better quality food that you are comfortable with feeding and that he will eat and does well on.Good luck to you and your pup!

  • Shar24

    Foods like Kibbles n Bits and Meow Mix are addicting to pets. They are really salty and sugary (who doesn’t love that combo) and have all kinds of flavor additives in them. Healthy foods can be a tough sell when they are used to eating these. Our last dog was a VERY picky eater, although fortunately he never had the opportunity to get hooked on KnB it could be a real challenge to get him to eat especially in his later years. I found that the cans of Weruva were a real miracle worker when it came to getting him to eat. He loved the “Funk in the Trunk” “Paw lickin Chickin” and “Wok the Dog” varieties.

  • losul

    I don’t know what to tell you, except that a more appropriate name for this junk “food” would be McKibble and FrankenBits, IMO.

    Bad habits die hard, but keep trying……..

  • Christy

    My rescue cocker spanial loves kibble and bits , we have tried the exspensive stuff but he would not touch it , tried both soft and hard and then a raw diet but he would not eat , vet check was great no concern there but under weight , well we picked up a bag of kibble and bits and he devoured it , he’s at a healthy weight and is active and happy . Thus review is concerning and I may try a different food but this one seems to be agreeing with him , nice shiny coat and all , very disappointed in this review , def got me thinking of a change but to what .

  • Riah

    I recently switched both my dogs to Authority and they both love it! One girl is on the grain free formula, and the other on the senior formula. The older girl has always been horribly picky. She’s been on pretty much every junk food there is for dogs. Finally over winter break I was feeding my ACD her food (grain free) and the kelpie actually ate it! Parents bought a small bag and she ate the whole thing. I say buy a smaller sized bag and see if she likes it.

  • Crazy4cats

    I think Authority would be a great choice. It is Petsmart’s house brand. Also many recommend using Nutrisource chicken and rice as a great transitional food. I’m glad you are switching off the Kibbles and bits.

  • Lorie Mason

    Okay, so here is my dilemma. I thought I was doing wonderfully when I tried my baby on KnB and she actually ate it! Loved it, in fact! Until then, she would barely eat any dog food, and me, being the enabler that I am, was feeding her table food. I was able to get her off of table food when she was eating KnB so darn well! However, after reading the ingredients, I see that it is not a good food for her, clearly. My concern is switching her to another food, and it going uneaten. Any suggestions on a healthy, tasty, affordable alternative? There are so many out there! I did have a friend suggest Authority Pet Food.

  • LeahA

    Kibbles ‘n Shits*

  • Petshrink

    If all the other dogs that ate K&B had rotten teeth, you might have a case. Other dogs eat K&B and still have healthy teeth. You are making associations that are unproven. There are other more feasible causes.

  • Petshrink

    Thank you.

  • Kells Bells Earl

    I didn’t realize how bad this food was until just now. We bought a small bag to tide them over until my paycheck comes in. We usually buy solid golds wolf cub because of the breeds we have and because they are so picky. Note to self: buy more dog food every month of the normal stuff we buy…

  • Kip

    Bad skins, bad breath, stinky poo and a host of other issues go hand in hand with feeding this type of food. Vets see it all the time.

  • Kip

    hey it’s your choice to feed garbage, maybe you will be lucky and he will make it to 7

  • Daniel

    Matter of opinion, and one I have never subscribed to. I have fed my dog different foods on a regular basis since he was a pup and this kind of reaction has NEVER happened before. That said, I was and remain more concerned about the ingredients in KnB and the fact that any store especially stores like Target would sell it!

  • KimmyKim

    You shouldn’t change dog foods without transitioning. If you put a dog on the healthiest dog food without a transition period it will make them sick. No comment on how healthy Kibbles and Bits is but it can’t be blamed for your dog’s gastric discomfort.

  • dchassett

    As Shawna has said. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives. It’s miserable but it passes. Just see it as a learning experience. Stores, all stores, are in business to make money, not care for our loved ones. That’s our job. You now know that before you switch to any other food you will check out ingredients. Now that you’re on this site you should try to find two or three other foods that your dog does well on so that if this happens again you know there’s a less expensive food that will not upset your dogs digestive system. But, seriously, it has happened to ALL of us. Or at least most of us. OH, by the way. Take the food back, tell them what’s happened and get your money back. Too many people go through these experiences and are too embarrassed or assume they can’t exchange the food. You can.

  • Shawna

    Hi Daniel,

    Don’t beat yourself up!! Most of us have been in your shoes at one point or another. Good puppy parents make mistakes just like anyone else. The difference is whether one learns from those mistakes and takes action — like you did!! Well done!!!!!

  • Daniel

    What’s in a name? I was a little short this month when I ran out of dog food, so I thought I would try buying a less expensive brand. I went to Target and found Kibbles and Bits to be considerably cheaper than all of the others due in part to it being on sale. And I remembered their ads from TV and it’s Target, which is a store I have trusted for years, so I was thinking Target’s buyers would never put anything on their shelves that could potentially harm a pet.

    And so I buy a bag, take it home, and feed it to my dog. A few hours later, he’s drinking water like mad, vomiting, and suffering through diarrhea throughout the night. Some time between trips taking him out in the snow to relieve himself at 3 or 4 in the morning, I decide to come to this website and investigate. I read your review and the ingredients in K&B which of course I should have done before buying it and feeding it to my dog. And I am completely stunned.

    Could I possibly be that naive and or stupid to think that a store like Target would care enough to look out for their consumers? Yep. I guess I was. Really stupid and angry now too.

  • dchassett

    Good Grief! Have you seriously not read the ingredients? Would you eat foods that had those ingredients in them on a daily basis or even as a one time meal. And by the way isn’t propylene glycol in antifreeze. There is really so much bad in this food it’s difficult to pick out the worst of the worst. For what is being spent on this food there are so many better foods on the market including local grocery stores, Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s, etc. One doesn’t have to buy “fancy” expensive brands to give your dog proper nutrition. Just please read the ingredients before you purchase and before you feed to your dog. If you have children I doubt you would feed this to your child.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Denise. I’m so sorry to hear about your dog’s teeth. Although it probably wouldn’t be fair to hold any dog food company responsible for your pet’s oral health, you may wish to contact the company and discuss your complaint with them.

    By the way, if your dog has lost many of her teeth and in the interest of her future comfort, it’s probably a good idea to consider feeding her a softer diet.

    Hope this helps.

  • InkedMarie

    This is the dog food advisor, not the Kibbles & Bits website. Since you said “your food”, I assume that’s what you think. You should email the company. You won’t get anywhere, the conditions of your dogs teeth is not the fault of dog food.

  • LabsRawesome