With more than 60 million U.S households owning a dog, the American pet products association (APPA) estimated that Americans will spend 99 billion dollars on pet products and services in 2020 alone, 95.7 billion dollars spent on the year before, 36.9 billion dollars from that on Pet Food & Treats.
With the raw food movement, the commercial raw pet food industry is rising, and with the 2007 pet food recalls, even more people joined the movement and many other pet owners are left with a tough question: What can they safely feed their pets?
Some chose unconventional dog food for their pet, one major reason is that unlike veterinarians and researchers, people approach feeding their dog as they do with their families. commercial pet food is made with by-products of the human food industry, while generally safe and nutritious, pet owners would not eat it themselves, so why would they feed it to their pet?
In this article I will cover everything you need to know about kibble, from the content to the manufacturing process so you can make your own decisions.
What is dry food?
Dry food is usually bagged kibble containing 3-11% water, it’s more convenient and typically less expensive.
Because it contains only about 10% water, dry food is more energy-dense than wet food and cheaper per pound so it will take less volume to provide the nutrients to your dog.
Manufacturers try to give dry food a better taste by coating it with fats, gravy and other flavoring.
Grains in dry food
In recent years, many grain-free pet food products appeared on the pet store shelves, many people believe that because wolves consume a carnivorous diet lacking carbohydrates, grain-free dog food would be appropriate for their dog.
Beside helping kibble hold its shape and crunch, grains are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and complex carbohydrates which provide an easily digestible source of energy. The fiber content is great for digestive health, dietary fiber cannot be digested by your pet’s digestive enzymes, but it still has many great benefits.
“They aren’t just filler,” says Dr. Susan G. Wynn, veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists.
A 2013 genetic research indicates that 10 genes responsible for starch digestion allowed early dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch which played a major part in the domestication of dogs.
Grains that are most common in pet food include wheat, corn, rice, oats and barley.
- The Great Grain Debate: Should pet foods avoid grains? | petcurean.com
- Grains in Dog Food: What You Need to Know | petmd.com
Content of dry dog food
The current pet food fads encourage pet owners to feed their dog so-called “human-grade” high-quality food, while this may seem appealing and logical, is it not better for your pet.
Typical commercial dog food contains about 20 to 40 percent protein, much of it comes from animal by-products.
Animal by-products are leftover from the carcasses not intended for human consumption, these leftovers come from slaughterhouses, animal shelters, zoos, and veterinarians.
Animal by-products may also include catering waste and according to the AAFCO materials from dead animals may be included in pet food :
“Animal by-products which may include materials from animals which died by means other than slaughter are explicitly defined as adulterated unless the materials are rendered in compliance with animal health and protein product regulations to destroy any potential microorganisms which may be in the products. The processes used are deemed to be adequate to control risk of disease.”
These products go to a process called rendering to make human and non-human foodstuff, fats and other materials to be sold to make commercial products like pet and livestock feed, soaps, lubricants, and more.
According to the AAFCO by-products are safe to use and provide nutrients for many animals, many pet food companies keep pushing the animal by-products are dangerous claim to make their products more appealing, some companies label their own food as “human-grade”, even though the phrase has no definition in any animal feed regulations.
Other ingredients in dog food include :
- Meat and bone meal
- Animal digest
- Expert: To improve petfood sustainability, stop negative marketing about by-products. | petfoodindustry.com
- A big pawprint: The environmental impact of pet food. | vetnutrition.tufts.edu
- Questions and Answers Concerning Pet Food Regulations | aafco.org
How is dry food made?
To make dog kibble in a process called extrusion, a machine called the extruder force soft mixed ingredients into a plate to produce a specific shape, the product is then cut to a specific size by blades.
These ingredients are solid in room temperature so in order to soften the mixture and allow for fluidity, a temperature above 100°C (212°F) is required, to achieve the required temperature the use of steam, hot water or other heat sources are applied.
One downside of this process is that it denatures the nutrients in the food, a 2003 study recorded taurine loss in multiple feed ingredients, more taurine was lost When an ingredient was constantly surrounded by water during the cooking process.
Most whole meat is rich in taurine, both cooked and raw.
Another 2003 study from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed taurine deficiency in dogs fed a commercial diet containing lamb meal, rice, or both.
Taurine is now artificially added in most commercial dog food.
You’re probably consuming by-products without knowing it, the milling of flour results in many by-products, one which is wheat bran. The majority of by-products don’t identify as such.
If not for rendering 50 billion pounds of meat would go to waste, fueled by the eating practices in North America which leave out about 50% of the livestock.
Without rendering, all available space in US landfills would be used within four years.
What diet are you feeding your dog?
I would like to hear your opinions, what do you think of animal by-products? do you feed your dog kibble or did you switch to other diets?