How Are Dry Pet Foods Made?
The puffed dough pieces are then passed through a dryer so that any remaining moisture is drawn out. The dough has now been transformed into kibble, which is sprayed with fats, oils, minerals and vitamins and sealed in packages before the fats and oils can spoil. Some nutrients are particularly important, such as the amino acid taurine. Taurine is naturally occurring in meat but is lost through the manufacturing process. For some time, the importance of this amino acid was unknown, but as indoor only cats and dogs became more common -- that is, pets that were not able to access fresh meat by hunting -- medical conditions such blindness and heart disease became more common as well. These conditions were later traced to taurine deficiency and it is now standard practice to add synthetic taurine to the post extrusion process.
Not All Foods Are The Same
Knowing how to read a label is an important part of choosing the right food for your pet. Some brands will use more grains and animal by-products than actual meat products. The ingredients are listed in descending order, from most to least. If you wish to feed a kibble with more meat than grain, and this is generally suggested, you will need to find foods that list meat as the first ingredient, with grain ingredients following. It is also important to note that dogs are more tolerant of grain ingredients. It has long been noted that dogs are omnivorous and thrive on a combination of meat, vegetable, and grain.
Conversely, cats are carnivorous animals and will not do well on diets that consist of high quantities of grain or vegetables. While some amount of grain may be used as a binder for kibble so that it holds its shape, it should be as minimal as possible. It is also possible to avoid grains altogether in your cat food by only buying foods that are labeled “grain free.”
Image source: Purrs & Paws of A.R.A.S. / via Flickr
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