Different Types of Dog Food Available for Pet Owners
Pet parents have some hard decisions to make during the life of their pet. Ensuring they are feeding an appropriate food is one of the topics that can be stressful and difficult to decide which type of food to use. Not only do owners have to consider their pets nutritional requirements, but also the ease of use and budget can be deciding factors. There are many different commercial dog foods to choose from. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but this article will help to break down each type and allow you, the pet parent to make an informed decision.
Kibble is considered by many to be one the most cost-effective options when it comes to dog food as it the most widely available dog food on the market. It is processed from a variety of ingredients, in varying qualities. There are many brands to choose from. Lower end products are economically priced and readily available at a wide variety of stores. Higher end products may only be available at select specialty stores and are more expensively priced. One of the advantages of a kibble diet is that it is considered a complete or balanced diet without having to add any supplements to it. Kibble is ready to use from the bag, can be stored at room temperature and has a long shelf life. A general rule to follow when selecting a kibble dog food is that you get what you pay for; the higher the quality, the higher the price, though exceptions apply. Pet parents should seek advice from store associates to discuss the types and quality of ingredients to find the best match for their dog’s needs as well as their budget.
Canned foods are widely popular choices for dog food, as they are as readily available as kibble, though they are more expensive. This is an excellent choice to feed as an accompaniment to other types of diets or offered as a special “treat” in addition to the dog’s main course. Canned food is very moist, containing as much as 75% moisture content, making it soft and easy to chew for dogs with dental problems. Due to its strong scent, it can be used to entice picky eaters or mask medications that must be given with food. Canned food has a very long shelf life and does not require refrigeration, prior to opening it, making it a very user-friendly product for pet parents.
Freeze-dried and Dehydrated Foods Raw dog food diets currently have a reputation for being the gold standard over kibble when it comes to selecting the highest quality. As the trend of raw food gains popularity, dog food manufacturers have begun to market freeze-dried and dehydrated dog foods under the raw food category. These types of food are newer to the dog food market and are carefully selected by pet parents who believe the higher price and careful handling and storage considerations outweigh any downfalls of raw food over traditional kibble. There are many pet parents who swear by the health benefits; cleaner teeth, healthier skin, smaller amounts of waste (poop) etc., but raw can also be one of the most misunderstood types of dog food. Some are fortified with supplements to make them a balanced diet, and others are meant to be fed in addition to other foods to create a nutritionally complete diet. It is important to check the labels for nutritional information to see if it is meant to be fed on its own or to supplement another type of feed program. Raw food comes in many forms including fresh, frozen, freeze-dried or dehydrated. Raw food is one of the most controversial types of dog food. True raw diets are as the name describes; raw, uncooked ingredients ranging from meat, bone, and organ to additional supplementation including fruits, vegetables, and vitamins. Raw food sold as fresh or frozen requires careful handling to ensure food safety and avoid cross-contamination. It must also be kept refrigerated or frozen to preserve it and has a short expiry date.
Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods have a similar look and consistency as a finished product. Both have the moisture content removed, though, the fundamental difference between them is how they are processed. Dehydrated food is technically cooked during the process of drying, using low heat. Freeze-dried is quickly flash frozen to remove moisture. Dehydrated and freeze-dried food can be re-hydrated with warm water back to its original form but dehydrated will take longer than freeze-dried to reconstitute. The biggest advantages of dried raw food versus fresh is the ability to store it without refrigeration and has a very long shelf life. Depending on the composition or brand of food selected, it may be fed as a whole diet, used as a kibble topper to boost nutrition or to add flavor to entice picky eaters. Raw Coated Kibble Raw coated kibble is just emerging onto the market. It is an excellent option for dog owners who want the convenience of kibble, with the boost of raw for nutrition and palatability but do not want to feed a fully raw diet. The kibble is topped or rolled in a dried raw additive, so owners can have the best of both worlds in one package. Whether it be kibble, canned, raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, raw coated kibble, or a combination of any of these, there are no wrong answers. Choose the best dog food appropriate to the age and nutritional needs of your dog, but also one that is readily available to you and fits within your budget. Despite the overwhelming options for dog food available on the market, there is something to suit every dog and owners needs.
Your local retailer will have additional information on the specific brands they sell and will be ready to assist you in making an informed decision about which type is best.