Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food Review 2021

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Kibbles n’ Bits introduced the first dual-textured dog food formula on the market in 1981. Today, the brand is well known as an affordable product with a low price few companies can match. But does this cheap product provide a safe diet for your dog?

Is Kibbles ‘n Bits a good dog food?

I’m a former vet tech and canine nutrition nerd specializing in helping pet parents find the best dog food for their furry friends. Unfortunately, I do not recommend Kibbles n’ Bits due to the lower quality ingredients necessary to achieve the brand’s low price point.

Selecting high-quality dog food is an investment in the long-term health of your pet. This Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food review will reveal the compromises that often come with a cheap price tag.

Let’s get started!

About Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food

kibbles n bits logo

Kibbles ‘n Bits follows a nutritional philosophy that aims to give dogs “joy in every bite.” [1] The company seems to prioritize taste and affordability over nutritional content.

This approach is practical for families who can’t afford premium dog food. Pet food with a low price tag that dogs will not waste helps make pet ownership more accessible. But short-term cost savings at the pet store sometimes lead to large vet bills in the future.

There is a relatively limited range of products available from this company. They do not offer any specialized formulas for dogs with health concerns like food allergies. And different Kibbles ‘n Bits brand lines are divided by flavor profile.

Most Kibbles ‘n Bits recipes are best suited for healthy adult dogs. The company does not produce formulas for specific life stages. But they do offer recipes designed for smaller breeds.

Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food History

Kibbles ‘n Bits launched in 1981 to introduce a new approach to dog food production that prioritized texture for palatability. The J. Heinz Company purchased the brand in 1995 before eventually selling Kibbles ‘n Bits to Del Monte.

Del Monte later rebranded itself as Big Heart Pet Brands when J.M. Smucker acquired its extensive pet foods family. Kibbles ‘n Bits remains under the management of the J.M. Smucker company today.

Other pet brands managed by this large corporation include Gravy Train and Ol’ Roy. Many of these brands have similar nutritional philosophies to Kibbles ‘n Bits. These budget pet brands often prioritize price over quality, a strategy that has resulted in several recalls in recent years.

Where is Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food Made?

J. M. Smucker Company manufactures Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food products in their own factories. The corporation operates an extensive network of manufacturing facilities throughout the world.

The brands claim that Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food is manufactured in the USA. But, the company also states that they use “globally sourced ingredients.” [2]

This lack of specific sourcing information may be concerning to some dog owners. Dog food ingredients sourced from China have been linked to extensive recalls in the past. [3]

Giant manufacturing plants overseen by large corporations like Smuckers often experience more frequent recalls than smaller operations. While more resources help reduce costs, independent brands can practice more oversight to prevent mistakes.

Legal Issues and Controversies

Kibbles ‘n Bits has been subject to lawsuits and recalls in the past. Most of these controversies resulted from pentobarbital contamination in 2018.

Pentobarbital Contamination

In 2018, a local television station’s independent investigation revealed low pentobarbital levels in certain Smucker’s pet food brands. Kibbles ‘n Bits joined Gravy Train as the two most popular brands affected by the contamination. [4]

Pentobarbital is a drug commonly used by veterinarians to euthanize animals. The FDA stated that the low pentobarbital levels detected in the dog foods were unlikely to pose a health risk to pets. But no pet food should ever contain any amount of the euthanasia drug. [5]

Smuckers recalled several production lots of four different dog food brands. Many upset dog owners filed lawsuits against the company for deceptive labeling after the incident. [6]

Smuckers claimed that the ingredient responsible for the contamination came from a single supplier. This drug can enter dog food recipes through rendered elements made from euthanized animals.

Ingredients Quality

dry kibble dog food

The quality of ingredients found in Kibbles ‘n Bits recipes is below average. The first two ingredients in the majority of its recipes are corn and soy.

Corn and soy are common allergens that can cause adverse reactions in dogs. They are also plant-based ingredients that aren’t ideal sources of protein for omnivorous dogs.

Animal proteins don’t appear in these formulas until further down the ingredients list. These animal products primarily consist of generic bone meals, animal fat, and animal digest. 

Non-descriptive ingredients make it difficult for pet owners to avoid certain foods that may cause their dogs’ intolerances. Meals and by-products are also generally considered lower quality sources of protein.

Because of the low volume of meat used in these recipes, Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food formulas have below-average crude protein. But high-quality protein is essential in the canine diet.

Dogs need high levels of protein to ensure they consume a comprehensive profile of amino acids. Amino acids are critical for muscle growth and cell functions.

The protein content in these dog foods is not suitable for active dogs. Kibbles ‘n Bits recipes also have a low-fat content. So these formulas are best suited for pets with lower energy needs and sedentary lifestyles.

Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food Brand Lines

All Kibbles ‘n Bits product lines feature dog foods that follow AAFCO nutrient guidelines for adult dogs. Always talk to your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Kibbles ‘n Bits Original

Kibbles 'n Bits Original Savory Beef & Chicken

The Original Formula from Kibbles ‘n Bits has beef and chicken flavors to offer a basic budget dog food with an appealing taste.

But, the flavor of this recipe does not come from natural beef or chicken. Kibbles ‘n Bits uses animal digest as a source of chicken flavor instead.

Corn and soybean meal are the first ingredients in this grain-inclusive recipe. Soy is an inexpensive source of protein. But dogs can’t digest plant protein as efficiently as animal protein.

Whole wheat offers a healthy source of carbohydrates from whole grains. But other ingredients like corn syrup and wheat middlings are high in sugar with limited nutritional value.

Despite the low-quality ingredients, most Kibbles ‘n Bits review samples from customers share positive experiences.

Pet owners find that this dog food’s mixed texture helps make it appealing to picky eaters who refuse to eat other affordable brands.



Kibbles ‘n Bits Bistro

kibbles 'n bits bistro dog food

Kibbles ‘n Bits’ Bistro line claims to offer more premium flavors from roasted beef and spring vegetable ingredients. But these products use the same lower quality ingredients as other Kibbles ‘n Bits formulas.

Like the original formula, the dry dog food in this range uses two different textures to make the recipe more appealing. The mixture of textures includes crunchy kibble and soft, meaty pieces.

The crude protein and fat content in these recipes are also low due to a high plant-based ingredients concentration.

Dog owners can select from dry and wet food options. There is also a small breed formula available with smaller pieces of kibble suitable for tiny mouths.



Kibbles ‘n Bits Homestyle

Kibbles 'n Bits Homestyle Grilled Beef & Vegetable

Homestyle Kibbles ‘n Bits recipes have a roasted flavor that dogs may find more appealing than the original formulas.

The company claims that these products have tastes from grilled beef, but the recipe is nearly identical to all Kibbles ‘n Bits products.

You can find beef and peas in the Homestyle recipe. But they are not primary ingredients and only appear at the bottom of the ingredient list.

These recipes use artificial colors to improve the appearance of the kibble. BHA, a synthetic preservative, also appears on the list of ingredients. This controversial preservative is a potential carcinogen. [7]



Kibbles ‘n Bits Meaty Middles

Kibbles 'n Bits Meaty Middles Prime Rib

Kibbles ’n Bits Meaty Middles dog food is a unique formula in the Kibbles ‘n Bits product range. Instead of featuring different pieces with varying textures, the Meaty Middles formula combines two surfaces in a single kibble piece.

The interior of these kibble pieces is soft and chewy. The meaty texture combines with an outer crunchy kibble layer that many customer reviews share appeals to even the pickiest dogs.

Despite the different kibble texture, these formulas have a similar recipe to other Kibbles ‘n Bits products. Soybean meals and corn are still the primary ingredients. 

Animal fat is also a significant ingredient in this recipe. But crude fat and protein content remains the same.



Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food Recall

Kibbles ‘n Bits has a limited recall history compared to other pet food manufacturers with comparable prices and ingredients.

However, the single recent recall of this brand in recent years involved a euthanasia drug and caused significant concern amount pet owners.

Here is a list of recent Kibbles ‘n Bits Dog Food Recalls.

  • February 2018 – Smuckers withdrew specific production lots of Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food formulas after an independent investigation detected low pentobarbital levels in the food. The FDA labeled the incident a recall and issued a grave warning to pet owners about risks associated with consuming the euthanasia drug. [8]

You can search for recent recalls of any dog food brand on the FDA website.

Our Verdict

Kibble ‘n Bits dog food markets itself as one of the best dog food options for pet owners on a limited budget. But the company uses several controversial ingredients that could damage your pet’s health and lead to higher future vet bills.

I don’t recommend Kibbles n’ Bits dog food if you can afford premium dog food. These formulas may be suitable for healthy adult dogs without any food sensitivities. But the limited variety of recipes has few options for dogs with special needs or active lifestyles.

Before changing your dog’s diet to any brand of dog food, remember to consult your veterinarian about the best options for your pup.

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AUTHOR
Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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