Types of Dog Food
Taking care of a dog is a big job and it’s important that you get the right type of food to keep your pet pup happy and healthy. But it can be difficult to know what type of dog food to purchase when there are so many options on the market.
The right type of dog food will provide your pet with all the nutrition they need and should also fit your lifestyle well. Some people have more time to feed their dog or more money to spend, which are always factors in choosing the best dog food type. Here is a rundown of dog food types and a few things to consider about feeding your pet.
The 5 Main Types of Dog Food
As you’re preparing to feed your dog, you’ll probably head to the store. There, you’ll encounter many types of dog food, but you’ll probably see 5 main options:
- Dry Kibble
- Wet—canned or in pouches
- Freeze-dried and frozen/refrigerated
Let’s take a closer look at these various types.
1) Dry Kibble
Dry kibble is probably the most popular type of dog food and is generally the cheapest. In general, it is made through a simple process called “extrusion.” Basically, ingredients are mixed to form a dough then entered into a huge machine that cooks them through high pressure and hot water or steam. Then, the food is extruded through shaped holes and dried into kibble.
Some companies bake kibble instead, though there is no reason to believe that baking is inherently healthier. It is a longer process, so companies that bake it usually ensure that it’s very high-quality.
Once made, Kibble is usually sprayed with various vitamins, minerals, and fats or oils to keep it high-quality and provide extra nutrition. Kibble is one of the most popular foods for dogs because it is generally a complete meal providing all the nutrition a dog needs in one serving.
Dehydrated foods are made by extracting most of the liquid from a food before packaging it for sale to dog owners. Dehydrated foods are slow to spoil without added preservatives and are convenient to travel with.
However, some require rehydration before your dog can eat them, and dehydrated foods (like kibble) have fairly low moisture content so your dog will need more to drink. Overall, though, dehydrated foods are generally more nutrient-dense than those that are cooked at high temperatures.
Wet dog food is one of the more popular varieties available to pet owners. It is sold in cans or in pouches and usually thickened with some form of starch (corn starch, guar gum, etc.) to help it maintain shape and consistency.
Most wet foods are higher in fat and protein content and contain between 70% and 80% moisture content, making them a popular choice for small pups, and older dogs who are not interested in eating dry food anymore. However, they are usually more expensive per ounce.
Be sure to check the nutritional quality of canned foods, as some are made for supplementation rather than complete nutrition. In addition, pouched dog food is often high in sugar and/or salt, which may not be the best for your dog. Always read the label before purchasing a wet dog food.
4) Freeze-dried and Frozen/Refrigerated
Frozen and freeze-dried raw dog foods are increasing in popularity as pet owners become more aware of their pets’ nutritional needs. These foods are generally frozen or freeze-dried raw, which means they retain a high percentage of their original nutritional value.
Freeze-drying is a simple process by which a frozen raw food is drained of all moisture while retaining its frozen form. This leaves the same raw food that you started out with, but dried of the moisture that might cause it to go bad.
It’s important to note that freeze-dried and raw foods often need to be kept cold and/or rehydrated and generally contain slightly higher fat content than some other foods. In addition, many lack some nutritional benefits because they are more expensive to make.
If you do use raw foods, you may want to start out by using them as a supplement to keep your dog on a more well-roudned diet.
Mixes made for dogs are not all that different than mixes made for humans. You’ll find a base of dry ingredients in a bag that you can either feed as-is or will have to supplement with fresh ingredients (water, eggs, meat, yogurt, etc.).
Mixes are more time-consuming than other types of dog food as you’ll generally have to make them up yourself. They are often lacking some nutrients as well and should only be used as supplementation in a well-balanced diet.
Benefits of the Types of Dog Foods
Each type of dog food comes with different benefits. Which dog food type you’ll choose will primarily depend on your lifestyle—how much time and money you can dedicate to feeding your dog and what benefits they need for their own specific health.
Benefits of Kibble
The benefits of kibble include:
- Easy storage and transportation.
- Good shelf life.
- Complete nutrition in one serving.
- Dental support (chewing a dry food helps clean some bacteria off of a dog’s teeth).
- Convenience—just scoop and serve!
Benefits of Dehydrated Food
The benefits of dehydrated dog foods include:
- Easy storage and transportation.
- Good shelf life.
- High nutritional concentration.
Benefits of Wet Food
The benefits of wet dog food include:
- Better, more natural taste.
- High moisture content.
- More palatable texture.
Benefits of Freeze-dried and Frozen/Refrigerated Food
The benefits of freeze-dried and frozen/refrigerated foods include:
- Easy storage.
- Simple preparation (just add water!).
- Easy digestion.
- Highly contentrated nutrition.
Benefits of Mixes
The benefits of dog food mixes include:
- Easy storage.
- Quality nutrition.
- A mix of prepared and fresh ingredients.
How to Choose the Best Type of Dog Food
As you can see, each type of dog food comes with various benefits, but most also come with a few downsides as well. Kibble, for example, needs lots of preservatives and additives to maintain nutritional quality. Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods usually need rehydration. Mixes are time-consuming to make. Wet dog food is harder to store and can be bad for your dog’s dental health.
How can you know which type of food is best for your dog? Well, there are a few steps that you can take to help you make the decision:
- Talk to your vet to check if your dog has any highly specific nutritional needs.
- Check the nutritional label on ANY food you purchase.
- Calculate how much time you will have to invest in dog food preparation.
- Consider your dog’s preferences.
- Budget how much you can spend on dog food and on supplementation.
What Are the Best Dog Food Brands?
As you have probably already noticed, there are TONS of dog food brands out there to pick from. Here, we’ll give a very brief list of the highest-quality dog food brands to check out at your local store. Some of the most popular and high-quality brands include:
- Royal Canin
- Hill’s Science Diet
- The Honest Kitchen
- Wellness Complete
- Blue Buffalo
- Taste of the Wild
- The Farmer’s Dog
It’s important to check each package and each brand before you make a decision for what to feed your pet. No matter how popular they are, the best brands will always use high-quality ingredients and provide all essential nutrition with an emphasis on quality protein, essential for any dog.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has a list of qualifications for any dog food, such as the nutritious ingredients it must contain and the labeling that makers are required to put on the product. Be sure any food you purchase is AAFCO approved.
Dog Food and Dog Poop
You’ll find that if you feed your dog a raw food diet their poop is likely to be a bit smaller and less smelly than otherwise. This is because the raw foods that you can feed your dog contain all the nutrients your dog needs, which means they don’t have as much “waste” to expel.
Of course, even with raw food, your dog is still going to poop—there’s no getting around it. If you just don’t have the time to take care of picking up your dog’s poop because you need to work to pay for their food, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Our team at Idaho Poop Scoop loves dogs and we would be happy to help you take care of your pet by getting rid of their poop! Connect with us to learn about our services and find out how we can help you keep your yard cleaner and your dog happier.