What Is Dog Food?
If you look inside your pups mouth you can see those sharp, pointy teeth that are aching to tear into a nice and juicy piece of meat. I bet you also noticed how after your pooch eats, it’s not long before they have to go outside and use that vast doggy restroom. Since their gastrointestinal tracks are short, they are much better suited for the consumption of meat. Isn’t it interesting that despite being the carnivores that they are, dogs managed to survive for thousands of years on our human scraps! Now our beloved animals eat better than us sometimes! Overall, dog food is specially developed food that is intended for consumption by dogs and all other related canines. It usually consists of a blend of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sometimes vitamins, minerals, chemicals, and preservatives.
The Three Main Types of Dog Food
Walk into any animal store and you will probably see an entire aisle or two dedicated strictly to your favorite pet’s food. Sometimes it may even feel overwhelming choosing or maybe you just ran out of food and need to get something quick so your precious pup doesn’t go hungry. Don’t worry! Luckily there are only three main types of dog food:
- Raw food
- Wet food
- Dry food
Just like it sounds, it’s when you feed your dog uncooked meat, bones, organs, vegetables, etc. Like the organic food craze that’s sweeping the nation, some people also believe that their pets should only be eating what’s fresh and what’s best. A raw food diet would be something like:
- 80% meat with fat
- 10% organs
- 5% vegetables/fruits
- 5% dairy/supplements
It does make sense that commercial dog food is a pretty new innovation and our pets did survive all this time without it, but there may be risks of food-borne illnesses, zoonosis, and nutritional imbalances if you decide to go with a raw food diet. Also your pet may get too in touch with their animal side and start to howl at the moon every night. Ahhhhh wooooooo!
Anytime you bust out a can opener you can bet that your pup is going to be right by your side with drool all the way to the floor. It seems pets love wet food way more than dry food. I mean would you rather eat beef jerky or a juicy steak? Unfortunately, as most pet owners learn early on, the wetter the food the bigger the mess. What goes in must come out, an example of wet food would be:
- 8.5% minimum of crude protein
- 6.0% minimum of crude fat
- 1.5% maximum of crude fiber
- 78.0% maximum of moisture
Food coloring, preservatives, vitamins, and minerals are also usually added in to add to the nutritional content. Also, the canned food is sterilized using steam, a process known as retort.
Shake that big bag of kibble and all the pets in the neighborhood will know what that sound is! It may not be the tastiest food out there, but it’s cheap, easy, convenient, and it satisfies that cute pup’s hunger pains! With all kinds of different varieties and sizes ranging from 5 to 55 pounds or more, you can see why dry food is the most popular dog food there is. Dry food is pretty much the same as wet food but instead of 60-90% moisture by volume, dry food contains only 6-10% moisture by volume. The way all that moisture is removed is by a process called food extrusion (just like your spaghetti is made) and then by further drying in an oven.
Other Kinds of Dog Food
Or known as fresh-prepared, comes in raw or cooked form. It’s not processed, and some companies even use ingredients that are certified by the USDA for human consumption. Since there’s no processing involved, the shelf life is considerably lower than other types of food and refrigeration is also required.
Dehydrated food also comes in cooked and raw form. The food is frozen or air dried, then freeze dried. It looks very similar to dry food however you must add warm water before consumption.
Fresh ingredients are cooked lightly then rapidly placed into a vacuum sealed container and refrigerated. The same process is also used on orange juice and milk, and even the shelf lives are very similar.
Very similar to the raw food diet but the food is chosen by the owner. It could consist of cooked or uncooked meat, bones that are ground, vegetables, supplements, and multivitamins.
Meat is replaced with ingredients such as potatoes, pea protein, and oatmeal.
Unfortunately animal grade food is not held to the same quality as USDA certified food made for human consumption. This allows undesirable ingredients such as:
- Meat and bone meal
- Animal digest
- Sucrose and/or fructose
- Animal byproducts
Generally, the cheaper the food, the less meat and more grain fillers, preservatives, and animal byproducts.
We all have to eat, sometimes we don’t eat the best food either, but like they say, “you are what you eat” so we may as well eat the best we can and pass that on to the precious pets in our lives. I hope now you have more knowledge as to what dog food is really made of, but you must remember each animal has different needs. Your local veterinarian should be able to recommend a specific type of food for your pet.