What to feed
Not sure what to feed your dog? There's a bit of a bewildering choice for you including wet, dry, moist, semi moist and raw. If you definitely want to feed a dry food I've given a brief explanation of the types complete dry food available. If you want to feed all wet food then I've given a brief overview below.
Generally this is better for dogs than a dry food diet. Wet food such as you'd find in cans or pouches is more palatable for dogs. They don't need to drink as much as when they're on a dry food diet. Wet food is more filling and is therefore a better choice for dogs that tend to put on weight (oh how I sympathise). It usually has a higher protein content and less additives. On the downside, the good quality wet foods are more expensive and once they're opened you need to be careful about storage. Wet foods are prone to bacterial growth if they're left open at room temperatures. I would store the food in a refrigerator but I wouldn't feed it to a dog if it had come straight from the fridge. If you have a little dog it might be best to buy smaller pouches. You will also need more storage space for wet food but if you can afford it and you have the room then this may be a better choice for your dog.
Before you decide what dry food to give your dog here's a brief guide to the different ways dry dog foods are manufactured. The most common is by extrusion but you can get cold pressed food, air dried, freeze dried and baked. If you are going to choose a dry food then it's worth finding out how the food was made before you make your choice.
Dry Heat Extruded
This is the most common process for manufacturing dry dog foods. The raw ingredients are cooked quickly and mostly at high temperatures using steam and pressure. The vitamins and oils that are removed by this process are replaced later artificially. After extrusion the food is dried, cooled and given a coating of fats and oils to enhance the flavour.
Extrusion may be ok if you can find a quality food but bear in mind that the high temperature used in the process removes most of the vitamins and nutrients. Some manufacturers say they use a lower temperatures and take longer to cook the food but this may only be a matter of seconds and the heat may not be significantly reduced.
The biggest problem for working dogs is that dry extruded kibble can hang around in the stomach for hours. It expands when it's eaten and can cause discomfort. A dog that works on a full stomach may be prone to bloat and this can be fatal. Having said all this, if you're careful with feeding times and amounts then there are some good quality kibbles that may suit your dogs.
The dry extruded foods listed below have good ratings
of between 4.1 and 5 out of 5 on the All About Dog Food
website. Many of them are offered by major retailers such as Petplanet and can be found by clicking the button below.
The various original components are mixed carefully and put in a press at a low temperature and funnelled into a mould to form a pellet. It's a procedure that doesn't need steam or high temperatures and all the nutrients are retained by the food. Some manufacturers say it's the nearest thing to prey.
One of the best things about cold pressed food is that it breaks down quickly in the stomach so that there's less danger of bloat. This is crucial in agility dogs. You should never feed just before a competition or training anyway but its as well to be aware that the heat extruded kibbles can hang around for several hours in a dog's stomach.
Air dried food causes less damage to the proteins, vitamins, nutrients and enzymes than dry extruded dog food. The process involves grinding the ingredients to a pulp and then exposing the food to a current of heated air which removes the water from the food through evaporation.
I was unable to find any information on how quickly it can be digested by a dog but as with all foods you shouldn't ask a dog to work or exercise after eating.
Freeze Dried Dog Food
Freeze-drying is a process that removes the moisture from the meat in a vacuum chamber, while itís still frozen. It basically takes the moisture from a solid to a gas without the damaging high temperatures. In other words it skips the liquid phase completely without causing any changes to the food. It's a slow, gentle process that preserves the composition and structure of the material.
Freeze drying is an expensive process, but it's also the most effective way of having a convenient raw food and may be the next best choice for those who don't have the means to store raw food or don't like handling it.
Baked Dog Food
This is just what it says. The food is dried by baking the ingredients in an oven and let's face it, this is how most of my food is cooked. Baking does allow foods to be cooked at lower pressures than extrusion and therefore may leave more of the nutrients intact. There is generally no need to spray with fats and oils so that the dog will actually eat it.
Our link partners currently don't stock any complete baked dog foods, however, if you like the idea of oven baked dog food one of the brands you might want to investigate is called Betty Miller.
A note on extruded kibble:-
When Jilly was a puppy and she accidentally got hold of one of Bernie's heart pills. I rushed her to the vet who made her sick. The breakfast she'd eaten several hours before came back almost undigested! Jilly spent the day at the vet's being monitored and pampered and thankfully she was fine. It was only our bank balance that was ill.
I changed to Markus Muhle a cold pressed food from Germany, after both dogs became itchy on heat extruded kibble and the vet started prescribing steroids.
Markus Muhle breaks down quickly and easily in the stomach and is supposed to be the nearest thing to natural prey. It's excellent for agility dogs as it doesn't hang around in the stomach.
If you want to research the different dog foods then there is an excellent site called All About Dog Food. They have a review of just about every food available and they give ever food a rating out of five. There's also another excellent site called Dog Food Advisor and this has very helpful reviews and analysis f the foods.
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