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05 January 2020

Commercial dog food: Which is the best for your pup?

Currently, the market offers many different commercial dog food
 
But the question which most of the dog owners face are:
  • Are you providing the correct commercial dog food to your beloved pooch?
  • What to look for when you are deciding on the food to give your pooch?
  • Does your dog’s meal plan satisfy his energy and nutritional requirements?
  • Are you confused about which commercial dog diet is right for your dog? 

Don't have time to read? Watch the video instead
 
If you are faced with any or all of these questions, you are at the right place. I urge you to read till the end to know what types of commercial dog diets are currently available, the pros and cons of the different types of dog diets and finally which type of diet is most suitable for your dog.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
-Virginia Woolf

I absolutely agree with this quote. It holds true not only for us but also for our beloved dogs. The correct nutrition can make a world of difference to their behavior and health.

What makes up a complete commercial dog food?

A complete dog diet must fulfil all the nutritional requirements for a dog to stay healthy. No additional diet should be needed to complete the nutritional requirement of the dog's proper growth and health.


Commercial dog food: Which is the best option for your pup?


The history of commercial dog food

Earlier dogs were used to eating whatever they could find (scavenging when in wild) or whatever they were given to eat by their humans or guardians. It was during 1930’s that pet food companies emerged and started to create factory manufactured commercial pet food as a cheaper option compared to the home cooked meal. These  commercial dog food were then endorsed by the veterinarians, a trend which has continued till today.

1950 onwards:

This was the era when the specialty commercial dog food came into existence. The dog foods were given different shapes, sized and flavors to make the food look more aesthetically pleasing and appealing to the dog guardians. These specialty diets are available in the market even now. 

What are the different types of commercial dog food?

Commercial dog diets don’t come in diverse shapes, sizes and flavors like human food. However, there are certain varieties to choose from. Let’s have a look at the different kinds of commercially available dog food:

  • Kibbles/Dry food
  • Canned commercial dog food
  • Semi moist
  • Home cooked
  • Raw food

1. KIBBLES or DRY COMMERCIAL DOG FOOD: 

Dry dog food or kibbles as we normally call them are made by baking and extruding. First, a dough is made by mixing and pulverizing the protein sources like beef, eggs and chicken along with cereals, vitamins, minerals, grains and antioxidants. The dough is then fed into expander which make use of hot water or pressurized steam to cook the raw ingredients.

Inside the expander, under high temperature and extreme pressure, the dough is forced (extruded) through special sized holes and shapes and then cut off by knife. Finally, the dough is passed through a dryer so that the remaining moisture can be eliminated.

Now, the dough which has transformed into a kibble is sprayed with minerals, vitamins, synthetic taurine and oils. Following this, the kibble is sealed into packages so that the fats and oils don’t spoil.

ADVANTAGES of DRY DOG FOOD:

  • Most economical
  • Widely available
  • Long shelf life
  • Chewing on kibble, reduces tartar build-up and keeps teeth healthy

DISADVANTAGES of DRY DOG FOOD:

  • Less palatable than canned or soft-moist food
  • Only dry ingredients are used in their formulation. Drying reduces the nutrition factor of the ingredients.
  • Have the lowest amount of essential fatty acids.

Gum diseases in dogs

WHAT TO LOOK FOR when buying DRY DOG FOOD?

  • If you are buying dry dog food for your dog (from a US based company), make sure it is of high quality and meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards.
  • The ingredients are listed in descending order in the label, from the ingredient present in the maximum quantity to the one present in lowest quantity.
  • Check for the name of the meat used. Don’t go for “meat meal”. The kind of meat used should be specified.
  • Should have an expiry date or a best by date which is at least six months away from the time when you are buying the product.

2. CANNED COMMERCIAL DOG FOOD:

Fresh and frozen meats are assembled and then ground into tiny pieces in large batches. Post grinding, the meat is mixed with vitamins and minerals. This is the raw product. 
 
The raw product then undergoes blending. In the blender, the temperature is progressively increased
so that the starch ingredients gelatinize and the proteins denature. The product after blending and cooking is packaged and sealed.

Finally, the cans undergo sterilization by heating them  to 121°c for three minutes to kill highly dangerous bacterial species like Clostridium botulinum.
 

ADVANTAGES of CANNED DOG FOOD:

  • More flavor
  • More meat like texture
  • Use fresher ingredients than dry dog food

DISADVANTAGES of CANNED DOG FOOD:

  • More expensive than dry dog food.
  • Contains more calories, making it difficult to determine the right amount to feed your dog.
  • Most canned food contain 75% water. Higher the water content, less is the nutrient content in the product.
 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR when buying CANNED DOG FOOD?

Complete and balanced label awarded by AAFCO (if it is a US based company).
Look for the ‘guaranteed analysis’ label requirement. This gives the information about the minimum amount of protein and fat as well as the maximum amount of water and fiber present in the product.

3. SEMI-MOIST COMMERCIAL DOG FOOD

Semi-moist dog foods are generally shaped like burgers, pork chops or other meaty food. Of all the kinds of dog diets, these ones contain the least amount of nutrition and are high on artificial coloring and flavor. They generally come in pouches and trays.

These can be provided as occasional dog treats but should not be considered as a diet themselves as they lack in terms of meeting the nutritional requirement of your pup/dog.

ADVANTAGES of SEMI-MOIST DOG FOOD:

  • Easy to open and store. Most of them can be stored at room temperature until the packet is opened.
  • They are less messy in terms of feeding your dog compared to canned food.
  • Dogs find the taste of semi-moist food more appealing than dry dog food.
  • Semi moist food being soft is easier to chew than dry dog food, thus making them favorable for senior dogs or dogs suffering from dental problems.
  • Picky dogs eat semi moist food easier than other types of dog food.
  • Less expensive than canned dog food.

DISADVANTAGES of SEMI-MOIST DOG FOOD:

  • More expensive than dry dog food
  • Semi-moist dog foods contain excess sugar (syrup form) and salt, This makes them appetizing but not healthy.
  • Some have artificial color and preservatives.
  • Propylene glycol is used by dog food manufacturers to make the food soft and chewy. As per FDA, propylene glycol is safe in dog food when present in low quantity. However, if consumed in large amounts, it can be very harmful to dogs.
 

HOME COOKED meals:

Some dog parents wish to be in complete control of their dog’s diet. Home cooked meal for dogs can be expensive and time consuming. However, this way dog parents can be assured that their dog’s food is nutritionally balanced. Also, the food is fresh and free of preservatives which is not the case in commercial food. therefore, homemade dog food can be a great nutritional choice when done correctly.

However, if there is a lapse in the provision of proper supplements, it can lead to devastating effect on your beloved pooch. Thus, dog parents need to do their homework so that their kid’s food does not miss out on any valuable nutrition.

Probiotics for dogs, the myth uncovered.

ADVANTAGES of HOME COOKED MEALS FOR DOGS:

  • Allows for the better managing of health issues like heart, liver and kidney disease alongside proper veterinary care.
  • You don’t have to worry about the quality and safety of the commercial dog food.
  • Allows you to regulate the exact vegetable or meat (quality as well as quantity) which goes into your do's diet.
  • No filler ingredients (commercial dog food use these to increase the product volume with no nutritional benefit to dogs, thus adding to the profit).
  • You can optimize the recipe to suit your pooch and help avoid potential allergens.
  • Allows for variety in their diet. Keeps your pup excited for mealtime.
  • Fresh with no preservatives.
  • Meal planning can be done beforehand. Money can be saved by buying the protein sources, vegetables and fruits in bulk at your convenience.
  • Prescription dog foods can be quite expensive. In such a scenario, homemade meal for your dog can actually cut your expenses.
  • Can be provided to dogs in all life stages.
 

DISADVANTAGES of HOME COOKED MEALS:

  • It is crucial that the right supplements are added to your dog’s food every time it is served. Absence of correct supplements can have devastating effects on their overall health.
  • While preparing your dog’s meal, you need to know that certain ingredients (chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, certain mushrooms etc.) which might be safe for you are not safe for your dog. Therefore, these ingredients must be avoided. Thus, one needs to be very cautious while searching for dog food recipes online.
  • You must familiarize yourself with the full list of human food which might be unsafe for your dog.
  • Due to the lack of a feeding amount guideline, dog parents might underfeed or over feed their dogs. However, to avoid this, you can select homemade dog food recipes which come with the nutritional information or calculate how much nutrition your dog needs by yourself.
  • Can be expensive depending on the availability of ingredients
  • It is time consuming. However, the bond we will when we cook for our loved ones is the same when we cook for our fur babies. They know it and we know it, the time and love that has been put in cooking the meal and it helps strengthen the bond. You can also cook in bulk and freeze the food in batches to reduce the overall time spent in the kitchen.
  • Not a convenient option if you are a frequent traveler.

RAW DOG FOOD:


Raw dog diet primarily comprises of uncooked meat (organ and muscle meat), complete or crushed bones, vegetables, fruits, dairy and raw eggs. This can be considered as the grain-free dog food. Raw dog diet was initially administered to sled dogs and racing greyhounds to increase their performance. 

Disadvantages of the RAW dog diet:

  • Colonization of antibiotic resistant bacteria in dogs.
  Now that you know of the advantages and disadvantages of all commercial dog food types, let’s look at why are dog guardians still preferring to administer commercial dog food to the pups?

Why is commercial dog food still occupying the market?

There are several factors behind why people are still feeding their pups the commercial dog food. However, their are 4 main points of insight to this which are as follows:

Easy

The busy schedule of one's life leaves them with very little time to indulge in cooking. This is most likely the reason dog guardians turn to commercial dog food for their pups.

Must be good

A lot of dog guardians do not take the time to dig into the research pertaining to commercial dog food before taking a decision. They see that dogs are doing fine on commercial diet, therefore the diet must be healthy and nutritious. What they do not realize is that the degenerative diseases appear during the dog's senior years of life. By then it’s too late. Furthermore, pet companies marketing their commercial dog food as ‘balanced’ further promotes the use of commercial dog food.


Promotion by veterinarians

When you are sick, you go to the doctor. The medicines and diet prescribed by the doctor are followed strictly in hopes of getting better soon. Concerned dog guardians would have a consultation with their veterinarian about their dog's diet. When the veterinarian prescribes a certain commercial dog food, dog guardians do not bother to investigate any further. 

What they do not realize is that the veterinarian is in a collaborative agreement with the commercial dog food company to promote their products. With passing time and more and more dog guardians using commercial dog diets, it was assumed that they must be good for our kids

Recommendation

Our close family and friends tend to affect our decision. When you receive a review from someone you trust, you are likely to gravitate towards that option more compared to watching an advertisement. Due to this reason, a commercial dog food which is actually not that nutritious for the dog gets the reputation that it's a wholesome, balanced and perfect diet for your pup. 

My personal experience:

I started Delta on kibbles when he was younger. However, he hates them. Even the smell of kibbles was enough to make him turn and go in the other direction. But he would always gravitate towards the smell of boiled meat. I also tried to give him raw meat but again, he hated it. So, Delta is currently on home cooked meals with vitamin, supplements and omega 3 fish oil.

I have also seen a sea change in his energy levels ever since I have switched him from kibbles to the home cooked meals. Now he has:
  • A higher stamina
  • Less recovery time
  • Increased alertness

Thus, I’d say that the home-cooked meal works well for my boy. Let me know in the comments what diet do you give your pooch and why do you love that diet.

Conclusion:

Every commercial dog food has its own pros and cons. The best way to determine the best type of dog food for your pooch is to discuss the same with his/her veterinarian, as they are familiar with your dog’s lifestyle, exercise level and health, they can provide you the best suggestions. 

In case you wish to settle for homemade diet or raw food, discuss with your vet regarding which food items must be administered on an everyday basis and which ones should be administered with limits. Make it a point to also have a discussion about superfoods, vitamins and other supplements your dog might need.



However, you can also determine which diet works best for your dog by doing a trial and error with the different dog diets and observing which diet works best for your fur baby. However, it is always best to have a discussion with your vet or conduct proper research, since adverse effects are most often noticed s during the senior years of the dog.

A note of caution:
The transformation from one diet to another should be done gradually. Sudden diet transformations can lead to an upset stomach. When switching diets, Very slowly reduce the quantity of one type of food and increase the quantity of other kind of food in the diet.

See you in my next blog post
Shruti

Frequently asked questions:

How is commercial dog food prepared?
Commercial dog food is prepared by baking and extruding. First a dog is made with the ingredients and supplements. Then it is passed through an expander and heated to cook the raw ingredients. Then the dough is forced through specific shapes and holes to get them into desired shape before packaging.

Is commercial dog food bad for dogs?
The processing of commercial dog food causes a loss of the nutritional value of the diet. It is not bad for dogs, but it also does not provide your dog all the essential nutrients he or she needs for proper growth and good health.

When was commercial dog food invented?
During the 1930’s commercial dog diet companies started to manufacture per food as cheaper option compared to homemade dog food.

Why is commercial dog food preferred over raw dog diet?
Raw dog’s diet needs a lot of supervision to make sure that your pup is receiving adequate nutrition. With commercial dog  food, people assume that they are wholesome and nutritious.

Commercial dog food vs homemade dog food. Which is a better option?
Homemade dog food is better if you can provide additional supplements, superfoods and maintain the diet with provides all adequate nutrition for your dogs health. Commercial dog contain p preservatives and lose nutritional value during the processing stages. Hence homemade dog food is preferred over commercial dog food.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Great article thank you for sharing, I like to vary my dogs diet up.

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  2. I feed my pooch a raw diet & I will never look back! He is constant energy, less recovery time as mentioned in the post & his fur is beautifully soft since changing.

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  3. Commendable work with significant scientific insights.

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  4. Commendable post with significant scientific insights.

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  5. I have a dog so this post is so helpful for me. I know the differences but read different versions is good especially if there are scientific insights. Thanks for sharing. - Paolo

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  6. This is a reminder that everyone needs nutrition and that pets also deserve food that they will enjoy. I don’t have pete, but I’ve bought Alpo dry food for a rescuer friend’s stray dog. I hope that’s a good brand.

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  7. This is a very informational post! Over the 14 years I have had my two dogs I have given them all of these different types of food. It is so true that the dog really does respond differently depending on the type and quality of food they get. As my dogs have aged, both have become less active and one has lost a lot of teeth so it is great to be able to adjust their food type based on what they each need throughout their lives.

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  8. Thanks for sharing all the different options. We do home cooked for our boys too. We used to do kibble but after a health scare with our husky, we found a lot of information regarding the adverse affects of kibble and chose the alternative.

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  9. I need to start cooking for my baby. We have a Malamute with a sensitive tummy.

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  10. Very interesting post. I don't have dogs but cats, so I imagine it's similar.
    We have been making our cats their own food since this whole thing started!
    Thank you for sharing.

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  11. our dogs prefer homemade food but they also have dined on both dry and canned food

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  12. It actually takes a good amount of research to feed your dog the right thing. I learned this many years ago after my dog got really sick from eating dog food I had bought at the store.

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  13. My dogs eat kibble recommended by their doctor. Homemade and raw diets concerns me and I don't think I'd ever go those routes. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

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  14. This is very helpful for dog owners. I am currently feeding some stray dogs around the neighborhood, and Im planning to shift to homecooked because dog food is becoming so expensive. Thank you for these recommendations.

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  15. I remember my Mom used to feed her dog dry foods and semi-moist.. Then when her puppy became an adult, he learned how to eat home cooked meal. And he gets bigger!

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  16. The last time i had dogs we fed them blue buffalo and rice( with water as they got older to soften the food) good to know these things about dog food

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  17. This is vary useful guide to dog owners. Also good for those just got a puppy or dog for the first time - I wouldn't know where to start!

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  18. i don't have dogs, but this will be very helpful for those who have especially on the first time of having a dog pet, reading this will make them understand more.

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  19. my pups are dry food and the same brand of dog cookie

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  20. This is really helpful for me that I owned 4 dogs. It's really helped to find a perfect dog food for my fur babies.

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  21. I didn't know a dog diet could be that complicated! I knew there were different kind but not to that extend! Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Canned dog food and home cooked meal is best food for dogs...... it will give us so much help...... thanks for sharing.

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  23. This looks really good. Thank you sharing this!

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  24. Home cooked food is extra work but what is good is that you know exactly what is inside. Great information!

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  25. Great post for dog lovers! Thouugh some are doing homecooked foods for their pets as well, this is a very helpful information

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