Dry, Wet, Cold-Pressed and Raw – What’s it All About?
There are four main types of commercial dog food available: wet, dry, cold–pressed and commercial raw. These different types of dog food can be distinguished by the way in which they are made and their moisture content. With all this choice, deciding which type of food to feed to your discerning pooch can seem daunting and confusing.
So, which is the best type of dog food? There’s no right answer, as no one type of food will be right for all dogs. As any dog owner will testify, our dogs are all unique with their own personalities and quirks and their foods needs are just as individual and will be influenced by:
- How active they are (e.g. do they enjoy long walks and playing with friends or are do they enjoy snoozing the day away in their favourite spot)
- If they have any digestive problems (e.g. Inflammatory bowel, pancreatitis, underactive pancreas)
- If they have any other health issues (e.g. bladder problems, kidney disease, liver disease)
- If they have any oral or dental problems (e.g. jaw problems or missing teeth, dental disease)
- How old and what size or breed of dog they are.
So, to help you decide what type of food would be best for your dog – here is a quick summary of each type of food, how they are made and why they may suit your dog. Once you have finished reading, why not visit www.dogtor.vet.and check out our range of healthy and tasty dog foods for your furry friend.
1. DRY FOOD (Moisture content 6-10%)
How is it made?
The meat and other dried ingredients are mixed together and then finely ground into a powder. Water and steam are then added to the dry mixture to make it into a dough, which then undergoes a process called ‘extrusion’ using high pressures and temperatures (usually around 100oC). This removes the majority of the water content from the mixture and ensures that any grains used in the mixture are properly cooked and easily digestible.
The baked dough is then cut into the kibble shapes that we all recognise and coated with fats and gravy. It is then cooled and dried to remove any excess moisture and packed into bags. This method of food production was first introduced in the 1950s and is still a popular method of production today.
What are the advantages?
- Dry food is very convenient to feed as there is no mess and it’s easy to weigh out the exact amount your dog needs. This can be helpful if you are trying to control your dog’s weight.
- Due to the high temperatures used during processing, oils and fats in the mixture can be degraded. Consequently, fats and oils are often sprayed onto the kibble at the end. This can be advantageous, as it ensures that the fat content in each batch will be consistent – ideal if you have a dog who needs to be fed on a consistently low-fat diet, for example, if they have pancreatitis or hyperlipidaemia (high-fat levels in the blood).
- The high temperatures used to make the kibble, ensure that any nasty bacteria or other parasites that could have been in the raw ingredients are killed, so it is super safe for your pet.
- Some dry foods can also help to reduce tartar and plaque build-up!
What are the disadvantages?
- Due to the high temperatures endured during processing, some of the nutrients in the raw ingredients can be damaged or lost e.g. enzymes, certain vitamins, minerals and fats.
- The lower levels of meat used in dry food combined with the loss of the flavoursome fats during baking, can make this type of food less palatable than wet, raw or cold-pressed foods.
- This type of food must be kept in a cool environment and in an airtight container, as the vitamins and fats can quickly turn rancid when they come into contact with the air – leading to spoilage due to oxidation.
- Due to the lower water content in this type of food, it is really important that your dog has plenty of fresh water available – a good rule of thumb is to have 1 bowl for each dog plus 1 extra.
- Dry kibble tends to swell in the stomach as it absorbs the gastric juices, causing it to float up to the top. This can be a problem in larger and deep–chested breeds of dogs that are prone to developing bloat or experiencing a twisted stomach (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus).
2. WET FOOD (Moisture content 70-80%)
How is it made?
This comes in individual containers such as cans, pouches or trays and has a much higher water content compared to raw, dry and cold-pressed foods – up to 80% in some cases! It is made by mixing all the ingredients together and then cooking it as a loaf. Once cooked the loaf is then chopped up into chunks and mixed with gravy or jelly – this helps to keep the food together. Finally, the mixture is then dispensed into pouches, cans or trays. It then undergoes ‘heat sterilization’ and is heated to 90oC; this is to ensure that any ‘nasties’ like bacteria, parasites or moulds are killed!
What are the advantages?
- Wet food contains a higher level of water (up to 80%) compared to both dry and cold-compressed food. This means that your dog may need to drink less when fed this type of food, so do not be alarmed.
- The higher water content can be helpful if your dog has a bladder problem like cystitis or kidney problems, as it will help to increase their water intake and keep their bladder well flushed through as well as boosting their hydration.
- It is often rich in fats and protein compared to dry food, which can make it more palatable – great for tempting any picky eaters!
- Because it’s soft and needs minimal chewing, it is a great food to feed for dogs that have jaw problems, missing teeth or who are recovering from illness.
- Due to the heat sterilization process, you can be sure that it is free from any bacteria, fungi or parasites.
- It can be used as a complete or a complementary food and can be mixed with dry food.
What are the disadvantages?
- Wet food is less calorie–dense compared to dry food and you will need to feed your dog a much larger volume of this type of food, to meet their daily nutrient needs – this can make it less economical.
- Due to larger breed dogs having a stomach that is proportionately smaller compared to their medium and smaller breed doggy friends, they can be at risk of feeling full before they have met their actual nutrient requirement!
- A similar problem is also seen with puppies, as they will also need to be fed a larger volume of food to meet their extra growth and development needs.
- For both puppies and large breed dogs, this problem can be overcome by feeding a mixture of wet and more calorie dense dry food.
- Due to the higher fat content of wet food, you should monitor your pet’s weight Dog’s are also able to eat wet food very quickly, which some owners can mistake as a sign of hunger and will respond by giving them extra food. This can lead to dogs fed on wet food being more prone to excess weight gain
- Softer foods, such as wet food, can stick to your dog’s teeth increasing their risk of developing dental disease.
- Because of the high temperatures used in the processing, nutrients in the raw ingredients can be degraded and additional vitamins and minerals may need to be added.
Don’t forget to check out all our yummy foods on www.dogtor.vet. We are proud to stock foods made using top quality, healthy, tasty and natural ingredients.
DOG FOOD PART 2: cold-pressed food and raw commercial diets
Anna Cherry BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS
(Dogtor.vet veterinary surgeon)