Whats the best type of food to feed your pet?

Whats the best type of food to feed your pet?

What’s the best type of food to feed my pet?

 

I often get asked, or see articles, videos, etc. online asking, what is the best kind of food for my pet? Is it raw food, home made food, kibble, canned, freeze-dried, etc.? The answer is quite simple; the one with the best ingredients. This applies to both quality of the ingredients, as well as what they are.


If we are comparing the same recipe in different forms, then the argument is more comparative to form. However, therein lies the flaw in all the articles I have seen; they do not factor in the individual food or ingredients but generalize. To a lot of people, for example, every raw food in their mind is superior to every kibble.


Is a frozen raw potato better then a canned complete food? No, obviously not, and most people would recognize that extreme… but what if the marketing is misleading? I have seen a lot of foods labelled “freeze-dried raw” or something of the sort lately. Freeze-drying is a form of cooking, so that’s like me saying I ate a baked raw chicken breast last night. It just does not make any sense, does it? But that is marketing. Since “raw” has the connotation of healthy and real in the pet food world a lot of pet food companies with try and incorporate it into their brand, when all it should mean is uncooked.


A good analogy would be I can bake, boil, fry, deep fry, etc. a chicken breast and the nutrients will change making some better than others. So, let us say we determine that a baked chicken breast is better then boiled chicken breast. Does that mean that a baked cake is better than a boiled chicken? Clearly, I mean nutritionally; taste wise the cake always wins.

Is raw better?

Yes, it is true that dogs and cats digest uncooked meals more completely and that cooking foods cooks out certain nutrients. Therefore, raw food is the superior form of food for pets, however that is only if the food contains the same ingredients as the cooked food. If you do not balance the food you can get all sorts of deficiencies, nutrients can have issues being absorbed and it can cause issues like pancreatitis. The concept of a fully balanced raw food is great, some do exist to an extent and some people make their own which I will touch on next. The issue is that many people have the mentality that no matter what they feed their pet it is better because it is raw. This leads to extremely unbalanced foods that may be primarily fats, and can be missing numerous key minerals and vitamins.

Homemade meals

Homemade is the direction many people go out of concern that the commercial products are all out for a quick buck (they are not far off, unfortunately). It would be impossible for me to make any real generalization about these meals as they range from boiled chicken and rice in a bowl to carefully calculated meals containing a large range of essential and nonessential nutrients. This option allows you to build your own food. The question then becomes are you knowledgeable enough to properly balance a food, do you have the funds to pay for all of the ingredients and the time to prepare it, is the information you are researching from a reliable source? Like I said, some people do an amazing job of this, but most people cut a lot of corners. There is also no way to generalize how the nutrients will hold up as far as digestibility as there are factors like where the nutrients come from (multivitamin or naturally occurring) and what temperature the food is cooked at (if at all).

Kibble

Kibble is the most common form of pet food and has a massive range of qualities. Some foods are so horrible it would blow your mind that not only are they allowed to exist, but they are some of the most popular brands in the world, being sold at your convenience store, grocery store, vet, etc. There are good ones too though, that manage to balance the business side with ethics. Kibble is the perfect example due to its massive range in quality as to how important the ingredients are. It is also a great example of how marketing can trick people into thinking “I’m sure the one at Walmart is just as good, and it’s half the price!” Kibble can be cooked anywhere from 165 degrees to 700 degrees, which makes a big difference in how many nutrients are cooked out and how much the company can produce. This means companies that only care about money pump out foods with little useable nutrients left while companies with integrity take their time producing less food of higher quality.

Canned food

Canned food is a great way to get water into a diet (primarily a cat issue), but other then that it falls into a similar category as kibble. A couple differences are that lower quality foods are more likely to add meat to it, but remember there are huge quality differences in meat. Also, there are only about 6 canneries in all of North America. For contrast, I personally know 4 kibble manufacturers in Ontario alone. A manufacturer can make a huge range of qualities of food; however, this means that there is less variety than a type that has more options and that a manufacturer error effects many different brands.

Freeze-Dried/Dehydrated

These are the extreme low end of the cooking temperature scale. The nice thing is that they are essentially kibble you know has been processed at a low temperature for a long time, but they come with negatives as well. The obvious one is price; they are very expensive to make and therefor corners need to be cut or the food itself is extremely expensive (both are commercial options). The huge issue though, is some countries require any freeze-dried or dehydrated product be radiated before entering the country. This had led to many health issues in pets and makes it extremely important to buy these products from places that don not have to, or choose to, radiate their products. Since they keep the nutrients in a form close to raw food it allows for very good quality foods, but gain, price point take them out of the question for many people.

Comparison

As an experiment I would like to lay out a food or two of each category and their nutrient data and although you may be able to tell which is which process it should give you an idea of how when you are not told what form these foods are in it forces you to look at what’s truly important; the food itself.

Example 1

Ingredients

Protein

12.5%

Water sufficient for processing, brewers rice, pork by-products, chicken by-products, chicken liver, corn flour, vegetable oil, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, fish oil, potassium citrate, carob bean gum, calcium carbonate, guar gum, taurine, carrageenan, dried plain beet pulp, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), biotin, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement], choline chloride, sodium tripolyphosphate, salt, fructooligosaccharides, magnesium oxide, sodium silico aluminate, trace minerals [zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodate], marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.), citric acid.

Fat

23%

Fiber

6%


Example 2

Ingredients

Protein

38%

Raw venison meat, raw duck meat ground with bone, raw flounder, raw lamb meat, raw duck liver, raw herring, raw lamb liver, raw wild boar liver, raw wild boar meat, raw goat meat, pea fibre, whole pumpkin, collard greens, carrots, whole apples, raw wild boar bone, raw lamb kidney, raw lamb tripe, raw goat liver, raw goat tripe, raw goat kidney, raw duck heart, raw wild boar spleen, dried kelp, raw wild boar kidney, potassium chloride. ADDITIVES (per kg): Nutritional additives (per KG): zinc chelate of amino acids hydrate: 72mg, calcium-D-pantothenate: 25mg, cupric chelate of amino acids hydrate: 12mg, manganese chelate of amino acids hydrate: 10mg. Technological additives: tocopherol rich extract of natural origin: 250IU.

Fat

35%

Fiber

5%

 

Example 3

Ingredients

Protein

53%

BEEF, GROUND BEEF BONE, BEEF HEART, BEEF LIVER, BEEF SPLEEN, BEEF KIDNEY, APPLES, CARROTS, SPINACH, BLUEBERRIES, CRANBERRIES, BARLEY GRASS, WHEAT GRASS, KELP

Fat

34%

Fiber

1.5%

 

Example 4

Ingredients

Protein

28%

Chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice, ground yellow corn, ground wheat, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, dried beet pulp, brewers dried yeast, powdered cellulose, dried egg product, animal liver flavour, glycerin, salt, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, phosphoric acid, tetra sodium pyrophosphate, mono and dicalcium phosphate, Vitamin E supplement, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (Vitamin C), zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin (Vitamin B-3), potassium sorbate (a preservative), Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), garlic oil, folic acid (Vitamin B-9), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), calcium iodate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin (Vitamin B-7), sodium selenite. C-2621

Fat

15%

Fiber

5%

 

Example 5

Ingredients

Protein

33%

Fresh deboned lamb, fresh deboned beef, fresh deboned boar, fresh deboned bison, lamb meal, porcine meal, lamb liver, beef liver, boar liver, peas, sweet potatoes, pea protein, Lamb Liver Vita Cube, flaxseed, porcine fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), natural flavour, dicalcium phosphate, tomato pomace, cod liver, calcium carbonate, salt, yeast culture, potassium chloride, dried Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation extract, choline chloride, chicory root extract, kelp meal, L-carnitine, blueberries, carob, cranberries, ginger root, apples, dried Lactobacillus fermentation extract, yeast extract, elderberries extract, rosemary extract, thyme extract, Yucca Schidigera extract, carrots, spinach, pumpkins, dehydrated Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dehydrated Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dehydrated Bifidobacterium bifidum thermophilum fermentation product, dehydrated Streptococcus faecium fermentation product, glucosamine, chondroitin, zinc sulphate, ferrous sulphate, vitamin E, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, copper sulphate, manganous oxide, vitamin A, copper proteinate, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3, calcium iodate, folic acid, sodium selenite, vitamin B12, green tea extract, turmeric root, fennel, paprika, cayenne.

Fat

18%

Fiber

5%

 

Example 6

Ingredients

Protein

37%

Chicken Thigh, Chicken Carcass, Green Bean, Carrot, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Egg

Fat

34%

Fiber

1%

 

Conclusion

I hope these examples forced you to compare the foods for what they are rather then how they are made. There is no hierarchy of food processing. Some are indeed better than others, but that does not make the food inherently better than a food made a different way. The only way a food can be better is if it is made up of better ingredients. Never generalize foods, and if you are struggling to figure things out find people you trust, and never hesitate to reach out to us for help. We are happy to help with anything related to bettering your pets life.


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