When you get your first dog or cat, picking a suitable diet can be a confusing process, and you may wonder what types of pet food there are available. Not only time and money will play a role in choosing a diet for your pet, but their health status may also play a role.
Pet food is a controversial topic, and there is a wide range of opinions as to which is the best. All types have their own pro’s and con’s, and it’s important to further inform yourself after choosing the type of diet you want to feed your pet. In this article, we will have a closer look at what types of pet food there are available.
The most common pet food you will come across are kibbles. Kibbles are also often referred to as dry food, and are widely available in pet stores, supermarkets, and online. Kibbles are formed by grounding ingredients, such as vegetables, grains, meat, and legumes, into a dough which can be cooked. After that the kibbles get dried, and sprayed with oils, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Kibbles are a popular choice amongst pet owners, often because they last a long time, don’t need to be refrigerated, and are easy to feed. The quality of kibbles range vastly depending on brand. Lower quality brands are known to use lower quality ingredients, and more preservatives, chemicals, and artificial flavors. They often also have lower levels of protein compared to higher quality brands, and use more grain-based fillers.
Kibbles are low in moisture, which might not be the best option for pets that need to consume a lot of water because of medical conditions such as bladder stones or bladder crystals. Kibbles are often also less inviting for pets to eat, as they lack aroma and flavour.
Canned food, also known as wet food, is one of the pet foods you will find readily available in a lot of places besides kibbles. Wet food is made by grounding up ingredients and adding a gravy. Once mixed, it gets cooked, sterilised, and canned in a tin. A big difference between kibbles and canned food, is that while kibbles are dry, canned dog food contains a lot of moisture. In comparison, dry food contains around 10% to 20% water, while this is 65% to 80% for canned food.
While canned food is often liked by pets due to being aromatic and flavourful, due to its high moisture content, one needs to feed more of this food to get the required daily nutritional value your pet’s body needs. Just like kibbles, the quality of the wet food ranges vastly depending on the brand.
Wet Food is often advised when a pet needs to consume a lot of moisture, such as cats with bladder stones and crystals. It can also be useful when a pet is unwilling to eat, or has issues chewing, in which case, the canned wet food can be given while the pet is being treated. Canned food is bad for a pet’s teeth as it requires no chewing, which can lead to increased plaque and tartar build on the teeth.
Like the name implies, semi-moist pet food is commercial pet food that falls between kibbles and canned food when is comes to moisture in the food. In Semi moist pet food this ranges from 20% up to 65%.
Just like with kibbles and canned food, quality will range vastly depending on brand, and many semi-moist foods contain too much sugar and salt, and contain a lot of artificial color, chemical preservatives, and chemical flavour enhancers.
A raw diet consists mainly of raw meat, organs, and bone. Depending on the raw diet chosen, and the species of animal the diet is for, it also may contain small amounts of plant-based foods and other ingredients. When feeding raw, one can tailor a diet to their pet’s needs and source the individual ingredients themselves, but there are also ready made raw diets available. As the name implies, the diet is fed raw, and not cooked before given to the pet. Feeding a pet a balanced and complete raw diet is time consuming and can be expensive when one chooses to assemble the diet themselves, but in return it gives the ability to be in complete control of a pet’s diet. The ready made raw meals available are easy to feed. When feeding a raw diet, one should keep normal food safety precautions in mind, and handle the raw meat as one would handle their own raw meat.
While many people at first may be apprehensive of feeding a raw diet, this type of food often works well for many dogs and cats as their intestinal tracts are developed for this kind of diet, especially for cats who need meat to survive as obligate carnivores. When you decide to feed raw and source your own ingredients, make sure to educate yourself and consult with raw feeding experts to ensure you are giving a balanced and complete meal.
Some pet owners choose to home cook their pet’s food. To do this properly, one needs to be well acquainted with pet nutrition. Feeding a pet a balanced and complete home-cooked diet is time consuming and expensive, but in return it gives the ability to be in complete control of a pet’s diet. Home cooking, with all best intentions, is often not done right, and the pet ends up missing out on vital nutrients. Chicken and rice is not a complete diet for pets, and even recipes found online in books may lack sources with proper nutrition credentials. When considering home cooking your pet’s meal, it’s advised to consult with a veterinary nutritionist, to ensure you will feed your pet a complete and balanced meal. They can also keep factors in mind, such as the age of the pet, as nutritional needs will vary with age. For example, large breeds are especially prone to joint issues if they don’t get the exact right nutrients in their younger years. Another important note when home cooking, is that bones should never be cooked and fed, as cooked bones are dangerous.
The main types of pet food available are dry food, canned food, semi moist, raw, and home cooked. All have their own pro’s and con’s, and after choosing one for your pet, it’s advised to research more about that specific type of food. Quality will range vastly depending on brand, and when feeding raw or home cooked, one will need to make a balanced and complete diet to ensure their pet gets all the nutrition it needs.
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