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A Guide to Pet Nutrition: Dogs
Dog Food Categories:
Dry complete foods, (kibble), are readily available, with the benefit being you do not need any preparation or storage requirements, and as such are extremely popular. Dry foods are made from dried and ground ingredients and can be cooked in several ways. The way a food is cooked can affect how digestible and palatable it is, along with determining how many essential vitamins remain intact through the process.
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Wet foods are also very popular, and can be found in tins, trays and pouches. Wet foods do not require any added preservatives, as the pasteurisation process kills all micro-organisms within the sealed containers. Wet foods can be complete or complementary. Since wet foods contain a large amount of water, the feeding amounts are much higher than those of dry foods, which often makes them more expensive to feed.
Raw feeding is regarded by many as the most natural way to feed a dog or cat. Complete raw foods in the form of frozen blocks or nuggets, provide all of the benefits of raw feeding, with all the convenience of a conventional pet food. Like wet foods, there are both complete and complementary forms of raw foods, and raw foods inevitably contain a high proportion of water.
An overview of the different types of feeding:
In order to be 'complete', such foods must contain every nutrient required in sufficient amounts to keep your pet healthy, which means they can be fed alone. Complete foods can be dry, wet or raw.
Such foods are to be added to another type of pet food to ensure your pet receives all its necessary nutrient requirements. An example of these are mixer biscuits which are low in protein but high in carbohydrates, so another food is needed to ensure that your pet receives the necessary protein requirements.
Essentially cereal based filler biscuits, occasionally with vegetables or herbs. They are nutritionally incomplete and so have to be fed alongside a wet or raw food. Like all pet foods, mixers range from very good quality to very poor.
Food types, and what it means for your pet:
Like us, our pet’s can be sensitive to wheat gluten. Wheat free pet foods are free from wheat gluten. Gluten is the protein that is found in specific types of grain, namely wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten free dog food is, of course, free of these proteins. However, not all grains contain gluten. Therefore, gluten free dog food may or may not be grain free, while grain free dog food will always be gluten free.
As the name suggests, grain free dog food recipes do not contain grains, such as wheat, barley, rice, oats, and rye. Grain free was designed to combat an increase in some dogs allergic reactions to the grain that went into ordinary kibble.
The term “hypoallergenic” is often used on pet food bags but it is not always clear what it means. As a word it means the lack of, or reduced number of, allergens likely to cause an immunological response.
Preservatives: Natural & Artificial
It has long been advised that pet parents do not feed dog/cat food that contains artificial preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin, in favour of products made with natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (vitamin E), citric acid (vitamin C), and rosemary extract.