This article was written for Pet Guardian Angels of America by Jenn Lee
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How High Quality Dog Food is Made

One of the most important decisions dog owners make is choosing a high-quality food to feed their canine friend. With thousands of brands on the market, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to look for. Two things to keep in mind when choosing a dog food are how it is made and what it is made of.

How Dry Kibble is Made

Dry kibble is the most popular type of dog food. Most dry kibble is produced through a manufacturing process which begins with a recipe created by the pet food company. That recipe is passed on to a pet food manufacturing company for production.

The first step in the manufacturing process is gathering together the ingredients in the recipe. These ingredients vary from company to company, but all are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. The AAFCO requires all dog food manufactured in the United States to be nutritionally balanced and complete. Typical ingredients include a protein, such as beef, chicken or eggs. Additionally, most recipes contain grains, cereals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Once all the ingredients have been gathered, they are mixed and pulverized, so that they form a consistent dough. Much of the work is done by factory equipment, such as vibrating feeders. This dough is then turned into kibble by baking or extrusion. Many pet food manufacturers use equipment similar to the equipment originally designed for the production of puffed cereals.

The extrusion process begins by feeding the dough into a machine called an expander. The expander uses hot water or pressurized steam to cook the dough. The cooked dough is then pushed through a die in the extruder that forces it into the desired shape before it is cut with a knife.
A dryer is then used to remove any remaining moisture from the dough pieces. Finally, the completed kibble is sprayed with fats, oils, vitamins and minerals, before being packaged for sale.

Ingredients in Kibble

The subject of which ingredients are the healthiest choices for dogs is somewhat controversial. Some people advocate grain-free options composed entirely of meats, vegetables and fats, while other experts maintain that dogs need healthy grains in their diet. The ingredients label on your dog’s kibble lists the ingredients in descending order by weight. The label should also provide a breakdown of the percentage of protein, fat, fiber and moisture in the food, which should make it easier for you to choose a brand with the ratio you prefer.

It is recommended that you look for a dog food brand that lists a high-quality protein source as the first ingredient. Other important ingredients to look for are fruits and vegetables, for the vitamins and minerals they contain, and omega fatty acids for your dog’s coat. Be wary of words like “byproducts,” on the label. These may indicate the food you are considering does not use high-quality ingredients.

While healthy grains can be a nutritious part of your dog’s diet, a food that contains too many grains, such as corn, soy or wheat, may be lacking in the high-quality protein your dog needs. Look for food with low to moderate amounts of high-quality grains.

If your dog has an allergy to grains, you may want to consider a grain-free formula, but you should check the label carefully. Some grain-free brands replace grains with other fillers that are not beneficial to your pet.

Watch out for deceptive tactics, such as listing multiple types of the same ingredient. This can make it appear like the food has less of an undesirable ingredient than it does. An example to watch out for are sugars, which may be listed by names such as corn syrup, fructose and sucrose.

Choosing a high-quality dog food will provide you with peace of mind and help produce a happy, healthy companion. If you are unsure which food is best for your pet, consult your veterinarian.

Jenn Lee, is a family blogger and proud parent of Reggie the Golden Retriever .