Dog food is food intended for consumption by dogs or other canine. Some people make their own dog food, feed their dogs meals made from ingredients purchased in grocery or health-food stores or give their dogs a raw food diet. Many others rely on commercially manufactured dog food
Commercial dog food
There are many varieties of commercial dog food to choose from.
Most store-bought dog food comes in either a dry form (also known in the US as kibble) or a wet canned form. Dry food contains 6-10% moisture by volume, as compared to 60-90% in canned food. Semi-moist foods have a moisture content of 25-35%. Pet owners often prefer dry food for reasons of convenience and price. Despite the fact that dry food can be left out for long periods of time, it is recommended that pet owners portion control and feed their pets fresh food twice a day, as they would with wet food.
Dry dog food
Many dry foods can be less expensive, per pound, than their canned (wet) or semi-moist counterparts, and do not spoil as quickly an open can. In addition, dry food is more nutritionally dense than canned food because of the canned food’s high moisture content (anywhere from 60%-90%, depending on brand). This means that more canned food must be fed to meet the dog’s requirements, compared to dry. However, dry food generally contains a higher percentage of fillers such as corn and wheat.
Pellets of dry dog food, called kibble in the US, are produced by one of two methods, extrusion and baking. During the extrusion process, cut dough or a mixture of raw materials is fed into an expander, while pressurized steam or hot water is added. When removed from the high pressure that results, the pellets puff up like popcorn. The resultant kibble is allowed to dry, then sprayed with vitamins, fats and oils, or any other ingredients that are not heat-tolerant.
If extruded kibble is exposed to air for too long or not properly stored, the fats and oils added after cooking can become rancid, and vitamins and minerals in the food may be destroyed by heat during storage or shipping.
Dry food labels
Apart from nutritional value and feeding instructions, dry food labels serve as an important source of information about overall quality of product.
Ingredients are listed in the descending order by amount, therefore a variety made of “corn, barley, rice and beef” will contain substantially less meat than one featuring “beef, corn, barley and rice”. The former is likely to be of questionable value as three main ingredients are grains which do not represent a part of natural canine diet and are often allergens in dogs. Protein ingredients in meal form (for example Chicken meal) contain very little moisture as compared to fresh meat, thus a product containing “beef, corn, barley and rice” will contain less beef protein than one made of “beef meal, corn, barley and rice”. Some manufacturers choose to add non-animal ingredients like soy in order to boost total protein content. Another variety of very low quality protein is Meat and Bone Meal and Meat by-products. Quality and composition of such ingredients is impossible to determine.
Very often, ingredient lists are very long. A rule of thumb for determining whether or not an ingredient (except for vitamins and supplements) is present in a sufficient quantity to represent a meaningful contribution is to disregard any components listed after the first pure fat ingredient (usually Chicken fat, Animal fat, Fish oil or Vegetable oil).
“Splitting” is a widely used practice of dividing an undesirable ingredient into components in order to place it lower in the ingredient list. A product made of “lamb, corn, corn flour and corn meal” is likely to contain less lamb than corn.
According to the standards in place by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) ingredients are listed by weight before cooking. If a meat protein is listed, such as chicken or lamb, when it is cooked it will make up substantially less of the food than before cooking. A meat meal ingredient, such as chicken meal or lamb meal, is meat protein without moisture and ground into a powder similar to flour. 5 pounds of fresh chicken makes 1 pound of chicken meal. The bulk of the food is made up of the first 5 ingredients listed. Vitamins and minerals contained in the food are in such a smaller quantity than that of the meats, vegetables, and fruits used in the food that they are always the last ingredients in the list, however, they make up most of the ingredient list.
Wet dog food
Wet or canned dog food is significantly higher in moisture than dry or semi-moist food. Because the food is sterilized after being canned (sometimes it is also cooked in the can), it is often easier to ensure the sterility of wet food. A given wet food will often be higher in protein or fat when compared to a similar kibble on a dry matter basis (a measure which ignores moisture), however, given the canned food’s high moisture content, a larger amount of canned food must be fed than with dry food. Grain gluten and other protein gels may be used in wet dog food to create artificial meaty chunks, which look like real meat.
Alternative dog food
In recent years, new types of dog food have emerged on the market that differ from traditional commercial pet food. Many companies have been successful in targeting niche markets, each with unique characteristics. A non-alcoholic “beer” for dogs (Kwispelbier) is made in the Netherlands from beef extract and malt.
Popular Alternative Dog Food Labels:
- Frozen or Freeze-Dried, comes in raw or cooked (not processed) form. The idea is to skip the processing stage traditional dry/wet dog food goes through. This causes less destruction of the nutritional integrity. To compensate for the short shelf life, products are frozen or freeze-dried.
- Dehydrated, comes in raw and cooked form. Products are usually air dried to reduce moisture to the level where bacterial growths are inhibited. The appearance is very similar to dry kibbles. The typical feeding methods include adding warm water before serving.
- Fresh or Refrigerated, produced through pasteurization of fresh ingredients. Products are lightly cooked and then quickly sealed in a vacuum package. Then they are refrigerated until served. This type of dog food is extremely vulnerable to spoiling if not kept at a cool temperature and has a shelf life of 2–4 months, unopened.
- Homemade Diet often comes in a bucket or Tupperware-like package. In the past this was thought to be a diet that owners create themselves. However, recently, many small companies have begun to home-cook dog dishes and then sell them through specialty stores or over the Internet. Many pet owners feed dogs homemade diets. These diets generally consist of some form of cooked meat or raw meat, ground bone, pureed vegetables, taurine supplements, and other multivitamin supplements. Some pet owners use human vitamin supplements, and others use vitamin supplements specifically engineered for dogs.
- Vegetarian dog foods are manufactured by several companies. They are usually balanced and contain ingredients such as oatmeal, pea protein, and potatoes instead of meat to supply protein. A dog owner may choose to feed a vegetarian food for ethical reasons, or in cases of extreme food allergies.
Raw dog food
Supporters of raw feeding believe that the natural diet of an animal in the wild is its most ideal diet and try to mimic a similar diet for their domestic companion. They are commonly opposed to commercial pet foods, which they consider poor substitutes for raw feed. Opponents believe that the risk of food-borne illnesses posed by the handling and feeding of raw meats would outweigh the purported benefits and that no scientific studies have been done to support the numerous beneficial claims. The Food and Drug Administration of the United States states that they do not advocate a raw diet but recommends owners who insist on feeding raw to follow basic hygienic guidelines for handling raw meat to minimize risk to animal and human health.
Raw dog food is distributed by various small suppliers.
Raw foods produced for dogs and sold in pet stores are commercially safer than raw meats purchased in grocery stores. The acceptable level of bacteria in meats sold at grocery stores is 30% or less because it is meant to be cooked. The acceptable level of bacteria in produced raw foods for dogs is 2% or less because it is meant to be fed raw.
Best Quality Dog Food (Dog Food Analysis)
Choosing the right dog food plays an important role in keeping your dog healthy and fit. Feeding the best quality dog food promotes health and increases the lifespan of your dog. It has been found that dogs fed on high quality foods, are energetic and have a shiny coat. Dog food analysis helps us know the different ingredients used in making dog food. After examining the ingredients, a veterinarian can analyze whether the food is of good quality. Dog food analysis is used to ensure that the food meets the nutritional requirements of the dog.
There are certain factors that need to be considered before choosing a dog food. For instance, underweight or overweight dogs have different nutritional needs. Dogs with a higher activity level need more nutrition-dense foods. Dog food available in the market are classified into 3 main types. They are ‘grocery store’ foods, premium foods, and healthy foods.
Grocery store foods is the cheapest option to feed your dog. Although these foods may be pocket friendly, they contain ingredients which are not easily digested. They are blended with additives and chemicals that are responsible for causing diseases like cancer. These foods fail to provide the nutrition required for the proper growth of your dog. Quality control standards are very low in these foods. As a result, in some cases, poisonous substances such as plastic, are detected in the analysis. On the other hand, premium foods provide high quality ingredients, but still contain certain elements such as chemical preservatives, artificial flavors and colors that can be harmful to your dog’s health. Premium foods are much more costly than ‘grocery store’ foods, as they contain a higher grade of ingredients that are easily digested and are beneficial for your dog. Premium foods are generally found in veterinary clinics and pet stores.
Healthy dog foods are often recommended by veterinarians as they contain the most nutritious ingredients. Available in any pet food market, these foods are made from the highest quality, nutrition rich foods that provide optimum health benefits for your dog. These foods are prepared using vegetables, fresh fruits and grains like barley and brown rice that are rich in carbohydrates. Most of these foods do not contain additional colors or preservatives. They contain additional minerals and vitamins that provide a beautiful coat and a healthy skin to your dog. As these foods are fortified with high quality ingredients, they are expensive than other types of dog food. In short, you will have to spend more to get a healthier and a better quality of dog food.
Dog food ingredients are listed on the container labels. When buying healthy food for your pet, check the ingredients list and see if eggs, fish or meat are the first ingredient. In case, they are on the top of the ingredients list, then the food is a rich source of protein and is easily digestible.
What is the Best Dog Food
On the basis of dog food analysis, it has been observed that homemade dog food is considered to be the safest for your pet. A healthy homemade dog food will give your beloved pet the much needed nutritious supplements, free from additives. The biggest advantage of making dog food at home is that you can check what ingredients are being fed to your dog. Dog meals made at home may include vegetables, healthy soups and meaty stews.
So if you really care for your dog, start collecting dog food recipes and keep your dog away from store bought food. A healthy diet will allow your dog to stay active for all the years to come. Remember, only the best quality dog food provides optimum nutrition, which is essential for your dog.
February 2009. Experts say Orijen is as good as dry dog food gets. Orijen has great meat content, with deboned chicken, chicken meal and turkey meal listed as the first three ingredients, and lots of other name meats and meat meals listed just a little further back. Carbohydrates — needed in a dog’s diet, most experts say — comes from high-quality sources such as russet potatoes. All ingredients are of very high quality, and meats and other proteins are certified as fit for human consumption by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (the company is based in Canada). The biggest negatives we’ve seen is that Orijen is harder to find than some other quality foods and that it’s relatively expensive. Innova EVO Dry Dog Food (*est. $25 per 13.2-pound bag) is another high-quality food with high meat content — so much so that we’ve seen some scattered reports that some dogs don’t tolerate it as well, at least at first. Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Dog Food (*est. $23 for an 18-pound bag) is a strong lower-priced alternative. It has less meat, but the ingredients are all regarded as excellent.
Experts say that while palatability is important, the true gauge in judging dog foods is the quality of the ingredients they use. DogFoodAnalysis.com has the most comprehensive listing, dividing foods into quality classes from one star to six. PetFoodRatings.com isn’t as comprehensive, but does a similarly strong job looking at ratings and adds a bit more personal insight from its author. Ask Susan Peters (a blog) also evaluates ingredients, but the site is hard to use and contradictory as both a good and bad review of Orijen currently appear. Whole Dog Journal establishes criteria for “approved” foods and publishes a list of those that qualify, but the information is only available to paid subscribers. Pet Food Review includes ingredient-based ratings from the site editors as well as lots of user opinions. Additional user feedback can be read at Zootoo.com and RateItAll.com.