The Best Dog Foods
What’s the secret to choosing the right dog food?
Deciding what is the best dog food to buy for your dog can be tricky and to some extent is a matter of trial and error. You may have to try a few different brands or types to find the one that your dog loves and thrives on, because all dogs are individual and have their own unique characters and personal taste preferences.
There is no single best dog food that is going to suit all dogs. The right food for your pet will depend on lots of factors as well as what type and flavour it seems to love eating, including its life stage, lifestyle, breed, size, and your own choice of brand. Your own views on price and ingredients are also likely to influence your decision. Of course, all brands of dog food are cleverly marketed with trendy buzz words, such as “natural” or “holistic”, aimed to convince owners they must buy a certain product in order to give their dog the best possible diet. Owners need to look beyond the hype and the pretty commercials and pay attention to the real nutritional value of a dog food before parting with their cash.
Here we will discuss different types of dog foods to help you make an informed choice when it comes to feeding your dog.
Dry Dog Food
There are two main types of dry dog food; kibble and dehydrated dog food. The difference is in the way they are made. Even the expensive super premium brands of kibble are made the same way as the cheap brands, the difference in price being due to the quality of ingredients used in the recipes rather than in the manufacturing process.
Kibble is usually made by a process of extrusion. This involves combining all of the ingredients in a recipe together. The mixture is then cooked under high pressure at a high temperature in an expander machine. The cooked mixture forms a dough that is then extruded through holes and cut into small bits that then puff up into kibble size pieces once the pressure is released.
In the next stage of the manufacturing process, the kibble has to be dried out and sprayed with vitamins and minerals, fats and oils. At this point it is sealed into bags to keep it fresh and ready to eat.
A few companies bake their kibble rather than use extrusion. Baked kibble is cooked for a longer period at a lower temperature and pressure. Brands that using baking instead of extrusion say that baked kibble is easier to digest, but baked kibble isn’t necessarily more nutritious than extruded kibble, as the nutritional value is more closely linked to the ingredients than the manufacturing process.
Some brands like to boast that they use human grade ingredients in their formulas and make their products in facilities that are licensed to process human food, although the actual process of making their kibble is the same as for other brands.
Dehydrated dog food differs from ordinary kibble in that it has had more of its moisture removed. (Kibble tends to have a moisture content of 10 to 12 percent). Some brands produce dehydrated raw dog food, which is not cooked at all in the manufacturing process. Dehydrated dog foods are often described as freeze-dried on the packaging, as freeze-drying is a common method used to dehydrate food.
Because dehydrated dog foods aren’t cooked for long (if at all), or at high temperatures, fewer nutrients are lost in the manufacturing process, giving them a higher nutritional value. The process of dehydration also reduces the need for added preservatives. It is important to always check the label as some dehydrated dry foods have to be rehydrated with water before they can be fed to dogs.
Dehydrated dog food tends to be more expensive than regular kibble, but many owners find they don’t need to use as much to feed their dogs and believe the added nutritional benefits outweigh the cost.
Wet Dog Food
Wet dog foods, as the name suggests, have a high moisture content and are sold in cans or pouches rather than in bags. Wet dog food can have a moisture content of up to 78 percent, or up to 87.5 percent if it is in a sauce, gravy or stew.
Dogs tend to love eating wet food because of its relatively high protein and fat content, which gives it flavour and makes it taste good. Kibbles tend to contain a higher proportion of carbohydrates, which are required to give it the right texture and form, but wet food generally needs much fewer starchy ingredients to give it the right consistency. Thickening agents commonly used in canned dog foods include wheat flour, corn starch, guar gum or cassia gum. Carrageenan is also found in some recipes, which some owners prefer to avoid as it could possibly cause digestive issues in some dogs with sensitive digestive systems.
The process of manufacturing canned dog food is very different from the methods used to make dry dog food. The meat has to be mixed with the other ingredients, cooked, and the ash content (minerals) need to be added before the food can be sealed in cans. The process for making dog food in pouches is similar.
A lot of pet food companies don’t have the machinery or equipment to make their own canned food themselves. It is often the case, especially with smaller companies, that they get other companies with the proper facilities to manufacture their products on their behalf. This is known as copacking.
Canned dog food is not necessarily better or worse than kibble. Again, it depends on which your dog does well on and the ingredients used in the formulas. Canned food usually costs more than kibble and is heavier to carry, which is something to bear in mind if you have a medium or large size breed with a big appetite! Buying your cans in bulk online is one way to save money and avoid the hassle of carrying them home from a store.
Some brands sell their wet food in pouches rather than cans. The main advantage of pouches over cans is that pouches are re-sealable, which makes them more convenient to store in the refrigerator once opened.
Dogs tend to love eating wet food, so some people like to mix it with dry food to reduce the cost. It can also be used to entice picky or senior dogs with little appetite to eat more.
Dog Food for Special Diets
These days dog owners have a lot more to think about when choosing a dog food instead of just whether to opt for kibble or canned. There are many types of dog food on sale today that cater for a range of different diets. Brands have realised that people are much more aware and health conscious of the ingredients in their own food than in the past, and this concern also applies to their pet’s food, as dogs are almost members of the family.
People are also more aware of the issues than can be caused by food intolerances and allergies, and are looking for dog foods that will improve their dog’s health and wellbeing and won’t aggravate conditions such as itchy skin or digestive issues.
Dog foods for specific diets tend to mirror trends in human diets, such as high protein, low calorie, grain free or free from. The whole prey dietary philosophy is also currently very popular. If you dog has health issues it is advisable to talk to a veterinarian to get advice on whether switching to a special diet may help. You can find out more about the best dog foods for different diets here:
Breed Specific Dog Foods
As there are over 150 officially recognized breeds of dogs, of all shapes and sizes, it follows that there won’t be one type of dog food that suits every single dog. Some brands have recipes specially formulated for specific breeds. Others have recipes tailored more generally to small or large breeds. Some breeds have different nutritional needs as puppies from others, in which case a puppy food that is labelled as suitable for a particular breed is recommended. Detailed information on the best food for different breeds can be found here:
Dog Food Brands
There are many different dog food brands on the market, offering wet and dry foods for all budgets. Price is obviously a major consideration when picking which dog food to buy, but there are other factors that owners take into account when selecting a brand. For example, to many people a brand’s history and ethics are important, as is where they source their ingredients from and whether they make their recipes in-house or with a copacker. Owners should also be aware of any product recalls affecting particular brands, so they can make an educated decision about which brand to try. We have written reviews of lots of well known brands and given them star ratings here:
To conclude, there isn’t really a secret to choosing the best dog food, it is more a case of researching the options, always reading the packaging and trying a few different recipes and brands to find one that works best for your individual dog.
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