A recent New York Times article indicates that "premium" dog and cat kibble contain essentially the same ingredients as non premium kibble and that none of it is actually "human grade". So just buy cheap kibble, I guess.
I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a dog food snob. I hate kibble. With a passion. I don't look down upon people who feed it, but I've always felt it was the lazy way out. Don't get me wrong - I have fed kibble. My previous dogs and foster dogs were fed kibble. Mina was fed kibble for the first four years I had her.
When she nearly died from kibble that caused internal bleeding, I had to re-evaluate what and how I wanted to feed my dog.
I switched her to an all raw meat diet. When I adopted Celeste, she went on a raw meat diet as well. They have been on this diet for the past four years (three for Miss Celeste). They've been happy and healthy.
A month ago, I found it ever more difficult feeding meat to my dogs. I'm vegan. I work for a farmed animal sanctuary. I literally rescue animals who I am feeding to my dogs. There is no difference. It has been an ethical dilemma for the past years, but it's started to wear on me emotionally.
So I decided to try a cooked diet that contained limited amounts of animal products. I read Monica Segal's books and was quite surprised by the suggestion to "start a spreadsheet" and literally map out every single nutrient that went into my dogs' bodies.
I don't do that for myself and unless there is evidence of dietary deficiencies, I'm certainly not going to do that for my dogs. No wonder people feel a home-made diet is overwhelming - almost all the information out there makes feeding dogs akin to performing brain surgery. Great if you're a brain surgeon, not so much if you're like the rest of us.
Now the dynamic duo still get meat, dairy and eggs (from the sanctuary chickens), but they get more grains and veggies - barley, rice, rolled oats, cereal grains soaked, beans, potatoes, lentils, split peas. They do get some meat and yogurt, but I'm spending a lot less money and feeling a smidgen less guilty. Celeste refuses food without animal products in it, Mina does a lot better on a more grain based diet.
So far, they are doing great. Mina had an upset tummy from a raw chicken bone that she won't be getting again, but other than that, both are looking shiny and healthy.
Do I spend more time making food for my dogs? Not really. I eat a lot of what they eat, so I'm cooking for the both of us minus any animal products. I use a rice cooker which cuts down on time. And I soak a lot of the stuff, which breaks it down, makes it more digestible, and then just needs a light cooking.
I like knowing the ingredients of my dogs' food. I like knowing where it came from. I like keeping it simple, because my dogs like simple diets (like I don't feed everything I listed at once, I usually pick a grain for the week and add some other stuff to it).
To my kibble feeding friends - do what works for your dog. If you want to try a home-made diet, go for it. If not, stick with what works for your dogs. I may hate kibble, but I don't hate you! :)
(Only quibble with the article is the notion we have 472 million dogs and cats in this country. I do not believe that is accurate. Perhaps it is a typo.)