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Daniela Linsbauer Hundetraining

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Daniela Linsbauer Hundetraining

Have you ever asked yourself how the different dog foods are actually produced? What does this mean for the respective food? The production of dog food depends on the type of food. You can find out how this works and what you should look out for in the different types of food here. 

How is dry dog food made?

There are different manufacturing processes for dry food, which differ as follows:

Cold pressing: In cold pressing, the individual feed components are dried, ground and mixed together. Under pressure with a maximum temperature of 80°C, the feed is glued together. 

Advantage of this production method: Important nutrients are not lost. 

Disadvantage: Maize and cereals are not broken down and can therefore be digested less well, resulting in larger quantities of faeces.

Extruded: In this manufacturing process, the individual feed components are dried, ground and kneaded. At 120°C, the feed is pressed into its shape under high pressure and steam.

Advantage of the manufacturing process: The high temperature ensures a better breakdown of the raw materials.

Disadvantage: Extruded food swells strongly in the stomach, which sensitive dogs do not tolerate well.

Baking process: Here, several components and nutrients are processed into a dough, dried and ground, mixed with water and then cut out with moulds.

Advantage of the baking process: High-quality ingredients.

Disadvantage: High proportion of carbohydrates and use of raising agents.

What are the quality characteristics of dry food?

Dried feed usually has a high carbohydrate content. This is needed for the briquettes to keep their shape. Some types of food swell up to 5 times their size. This can cause stomach pain due to stretching and can also cause gastric distention. Meat weighs more than grain, so the kibbles are usually very light.

Look for the following quality criteria in dry food: 

  • Food does NOT float on top in water.
  • Little swelling.
  • Food dissolves into mush.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of dry food?

Dry food is easy to handle, but it is also very susceptible to food mites and should therefore be kept dry in a light-protected box. Open bags of food can grow mould or light and oxygen can destroy valuable vitamins and nutrients. 

Your dog should drink a lot when fed dry, or the dry food should be enriched with water before feeding and left to stand for a few minutes. This way the food swells in the bowl (and not in the stomach) and the animal absorbs more liquid with the food.

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How is semi-moist food produced?

Semi-moist food is also called soft food and has a higher moisture content (15-30%) than dry food. Therefore, it must be protected from spoilage with preservatives. Because of the high moisture content, it does not need to be processed with water.

The production of semi-moist fodder is quite expensive and time-consuming. The fodder is gently softened by a stream of steam (100 degrees). 

Advantage of semi-moist food: Contributes to gentle digestion, so it is especially recommended for food-sensitive dogs. Usually has a higher meat content and a higher proportion of healthy ingredients.

Disadvantage of semi-moist food: Usually more expensive than other food.

How is wet food made?

Wet food has a moisture content of 70-85% and there are large differences in quality and price. The vitamin losses that occur during the heating process are compensated for by adding vitamins. Here, too, there are different manufacturing processes:

Classic manufacturing process: In this manufacturing process, the mixed raw materials are heated to over 120° for at least 1 hour – this is also how canned food is boiled down for human consumption. This kills bacteria and germs and the feed has a longer shelf life. 

However, this process destroys many vitamins, which then have to be added synthetically.

Cold filling: This process takes longer and is more cost-intensive plus the feed does not keep as long. As the free trade prescribes a minimum shelf life of 24 months, this type of feed is often not available. The individual components are filled chilled at about 4°C, slowly steam-cooked and then slowly and briefly heated to 121°C. 

Advantage and disadvantage: The manufacturers usually do without preservatives or synthetic vitamins. Wet food is usually well accepted and the water requirement is partly covered by the food. However, opened tins spoil very quickly and there is also a lot of waste.

Production of BARF = Biologically Appropriate Raw Food

With this feeding method, rations are made up of raw muscle meat, offal, bones, as well as vegetables and fruit. It is an individual, but very complex feeding method, which can quickly lead to deficiency symptoms and/or illnesses if the composition is incorrect. 

In order to be able to feed your dog with sufficient nutrients, you should intensively study BARF or consult a nutritionist for dogs.

Quality in the production of dog food

The different ways in which dog food is produced and the type of food (dry-semi-dry-wet) do not say anything about the quality of the food; much more important are the ingredients it contains and the ingredients used. A look at the following article “Recognising high-quality food” can help you to better understand the ingredients on the various dog foods.

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It makes sense to think about the different ways in which dog food is made so that you know what your dog is getting in the bowl. The manufacturing process can have an influence on your dog’s digestion and therefore on his health.