Which Processed Pet Food Makes the Most Sense?
Mile High Raw believes your pet deserves a minimally processed pet food using the freshest ingredients possible. Today’s current health issues are quickly increasing with our pet dogs and cats. Is there a correlation? Choosing raw dog food that is made consistently and meets AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials’) standards is key in finding the best nutrition for your dog. Here’s a look at the types of dog food, ingredients and processing methods used in today’s processed pet food that is readily available and designed for a long shelf life.
Processed Pet Food Types
- Canned Dog/Cat Food
- Dry Dog/Cat Food
- HPP (High Pressure Pasteurization) Raw Cat Food
- HPP Raw Dog Food
- Semi Moist Dog/Cat Food
Ingredients of Processed Pet Food
- Byproducts of Meat, Poultry and Seafood
- Meat, Poultry and Seafood
Now that you have an understanding of what goes into your dog/cat food, we can look further at how most common dog/cat food types are processed.
Dry kibble is a processed pet food and is cooked. The raw ingredients are ground (typically to a powder which increases it’s ability to uniformly mix and absorb water). It’s then mixed/compounded with liquid ingredients and then into extrusion. In the extrusion process, the dough is cooked under high pressure and high heat as it passes through the extruder to be shaped and cut to size. It’s then dried in an oven until it meets the right moisture level for good shelf life stability. Finally, the product is cooled and possibly/likely goes through an enrobing process. Enrobing is adding a liquid or powder to the kibble that helps with flavor and palatability.
Semi Moist Dog Food
Semi Moist Dog food is a processed pet food and is cooked. The processing is very similar to dry kibble. One main difference is the extruder uses a lower pressure and temperature. Also, Instead of drying the dog food product, humectants (chemicals helping the product maintain moisture content) and acids are added. The semi moist dog food is then cooled to help it maintain higher moisture and a sponge like texture. The product is definitely susceptible to losing its texture and moisture content. It is also more likely to have mold or bacteria which leads to spoilage. To curb spoilage, it’s typically formulated with mold and bacteria inhibitors and generally uses special moisture proof packages.
Canned Dog Food
Canned dog food is a processed pet food and is cooked. It’s heated, cooked and sealed similar to human canned foods. The base is comprised of mostly meat products. It typically consists of a combination of fresh, frozen and meat byproducts. These meat products and byproducts are then mixed with minerals, vitamins and sometimes grains. The dog food product is heated as it’s mixed. Heating the product allows the starch to start gelatinizing and the proteins begin to denature. This process improves the flavor and texture of the end product. If the canned dog food includes carbohydrates, the process would require a higher temperature to fully cook. Once cooked, the product is canned using steam for a vacuum seal. The steam sealing process is intended to prevent spoilage. At this point, the product is cooked to 249.8° Fahrenheit for for at least 3 minutes ensuring the dangerous bacteria are killed. The main concern for this cooking process is clostridium botulinum bacteria.
HPP (High Pressure Pasteurization) in Raw Dog Food
HPP raw dog food is a processed pet food. Once it goes through the HPP process, i don’t consider it a true, wholesome raw dog food. At least they skipped the cooking part! It’s likely there is nutrient damage and inactivation of beneficial microorganisms during the process. The process is quite simple. Large water tanks that are able to withstand ridiculous amounts of pressure are used. Raw dog food is put into sealed packages, then into the large water tank. Water is able to completely surround the product in the sealed package, inside the tank. Once the tank is closed, cold water is pumped into the chamber at a very high pressure. This process is capable of squishing bacteria to death. Some bacteria can survive the pressure, but it would be hard for them to withstand the sudden pressure change that occurs upon opening the tank. During the process some cell walls are damaged rendering the product unattractive and may alter the taste in the process. This process is best for products with a high moisture content. HPP typically adds a shelf life of 2-3 times longer than minimally processed raw dog food. I do believe this pet food processing is better than that of dry dog food, kibble, semi moist dog food and canned dog food. Unfortunately it doesn’t meet the quality and freshness of a minimally processed raw dog food.
Minimally Processed Raw Dog Food
The best raw dog food, especially Tefco Performance Dog, is minimally processed. No cooking and/or pasteurization in the process allows for a natural, wholesome dog food that dogs and cats thrive on. A minimally processed raw dog food typically goes through a rough grind in order to create a consistent, balanced mix. Is properly tempered in the mixing process and quickly flash frozen. Anything further would lessen the products quality and natural composition. The best things in life are meant to be simple, minimally processed raw dog food is no different.
In summation, cooking, over grinding ingredients and pasteurization seem to increase shelf life while decreasing quality and wholesomeness of the dog food or cat food end product. A quality dog/cat food processor would use fresh meat and a rough grind, not a colorful attractive package including lesser quality products. The world is starting to see the benefits of raw whole foods and it’s no different for our pets. With over a decade of feeding a minimally processed raw dog food, i have never visited a veterinarian with a problem related to their raw diet. In fact, i’ve had minimal trips to a veterinarian for any needs other than required vaccinations. A dog is a scavenger and has a very sturdy digestive tract. The only time i’d look towards other foods is if my dogs immune system was compromised or following chemotherapy for cancer. Otherwise i’ll feed minimally processed raw dog food to my pets indefinitely. Pet food for thought. Choose wisely!