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
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|
|Dry Matter Basis||23%||15%||54%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||21%||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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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
- 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 ↩
- 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 ↩
- Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia ↩
- International Agency for Research on Cancer ↩