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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dog food is food intended for consumption by dogs or other canine. Some people make their own dog food, feed their dogs meals made from ingredients purchased in grocery or health-food stores or give their dogs a raw food diet. Many others rely on commercially manufactured dog food.

There are varying opinions on what type of diet is best for dogs. Some argue that dogs have thrived on leftovers and scraps from their owners for thousands of years and that commercial dog foods (which have only been available for the past century) contain poor-quality meats, additives, and other ingredients dogs should not ingest. Some maintain that commercial dog food is not nutritionally sufficient.

Contents

Commercial dog food

There are many varieties of commercial dog food to choose from.

Most store-bought dog food comes in either a dry form (also known in the US as kibble) or a wet canned form. Dry food contains 6-10% moisture by volume, as compared to 60-90% in canned food. Semi-moist foods have a moisture content of 25-35%. Pet owners should make sure to never feed their pets a strictly wet food diet because of the high water content[citation needed]. It can be used as filler or over dry food (which is much more beneficial[citation needed]). Pet owners often prefer dry food for reasons of convenience and price. Despite the fact that dry food can be left out for long periods of time, it is recommended that pet owners portion control and feed their pets fresh food twice a day, as they would with wet food.

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Dry dog food

Many dry foods can be less expensive, per pound, than their canned (wet) or semi-moist counterparts, and are less likely to spoil than an open can. In addition, dry food is much more nutritious than canned food because of the canned food's high water/moisture content (anywhere from 60%-90%, depending on brand).[1]

Manufacturing process

Pellets of dry dog food, called kibble in the US, are produced by one of two methods, extrusion and baking. During the extrusion process, cut dough or a mixture of raw materials is fed into an expander, while pressurized steam or hot water is added. When removed from the high pressure that results, the pellets puff up like popcorn. The resultant kibble is allowed to dry, then sprayed with vitamins, fats and oils, or any other ingredients that are not heat-tolerant.

If extruded kibble is exposed to air for too long or not properly stored, the fats and oils added after cooking can become rancid, and vitamins and minerals in the food may be destroyed by heat during storage or shipping.[1]

Dry food labels

Apart from nutritional value and feeding instructions, dry food labels serve as an important source of information about overall quality of product.

Ingredients are listed in the descending order by amount, therefore a variety made of "corn, barley, rice and beef" will contain substantially less meat than one featuring "beef, corn, barley and rice". The former is likely to be of questionable value as three main ingredients are grains which do not represent a part of natural canine diet and are often allergens in dogs[2]. Protein ingredients in meal form (for example Chicken meal) contain very little moisture as compared to fresh meat, thus a product containing "beef, corn, barley and rice" will contain less beef protein than one made of "beef meal, corn, barley and rice"[3]. Some manufacturers choose to add non-animal ingredients like soy in order to boost total protein content. Another variety of very low quality protein is Meat and Bone Meal and Meat by-products. Quality and composition of such ingredients is impossible to determine.

Very often, ingredient lists are very long. A rule of thumb for determining whether or not an ingredient (except for vitamins and supplements) is present in a sufficient quantity to represent a meaningful contribution is to disregard any components listed after the first pure fat ingredient (usually Chicken fat, Animal fat, Fish oil or Vegetable oil)[4].

"Splitting" is a widely used practice of dividing an undesirable ingredient into components in order to place it lower in the ingredient list [5]. A product made of "lamb, corn, corn flour and corn meal" is likely to contain less lamb than corn.

Wet dog food

Wet or canned dog food is significantly higher in moisture than dry or semi-moist food.[1] Because the food is sterilized after being canned (sometimes it is also cooked in the can), it is often easier to ensure the sterility of wet food. A given wet food will often be higher in protein or fat when compared to a similar kibble on a dry matter basis (a measure which ignores moisture), however, given the canned food's high moisture content, it is hardly a significant source of nutrition{[citation needed]. Canned food should always be used alongside dry food (kibble) to ensure proper nutrition[citation needed]. Grain gluten and other protein gels may be used in wet dog food to create artificial meaty chunks, which look like real meat.[6].

Alternative dog food

In recent years, new types of dog food have emerged on the market that differ from traditional commercial pet food. Many companies have been successful in targeting niche markets, each with unique characteristics.[7] A non-alcoholic "beer" for dogs (Kwispelbier) is made in the Netherlands from beef extract and malt.[8]

Popular Alternative Dog Food Labels:

  • Frozen or Freeze-Dried, comes in raw or cooked (not processed) form. The idea is to skip the processing stage traditional dry/wet dog food goes through. This causes less destruction of the nutritional integrity. To compensate for the short shelf life, products are frozen or freeze-dried.
  • Dehydrated, comes in raw and cooked form. Products are usually air dried to reduce moisture to the level where bacterial growths are inhibited. The appearance is very similar to dry kibbles. The typical feeding methods include adding warm water before serving.
  • Fresh or Refrigerated, produced through pasteurization of fresh ingredients. Products are lightly cooked and then quickly sealed in a vacuum package. Then they are refrigerated until served. This type of dog food is extremely vulnerable to spoiling if not kept at a cool temperature and has a shelf life of 2–4 months, unopened.[9].
  • Homemade Diet often comes in a bucket or Tupperware-like package. In the past this was thought to be a diet that owners create themselves. However, recently, many small companies have begun to home-cook dog dishes and then sell them through specialty stores or over the Internet. Many pet owners feed dogs homemade diets. These diets generally consist of some form of cooked meat or raw meat, ground bone, pureed vegetables, taurine supplements, and other multivitamin supplements. Some pet owners use human vitamin supplements, and others use vitamin supplements specifically engineered for dogs.[10].

Contents

Many commercial dog foods are made from materials considered by some authorities and dog owners to be unusable or undesirable[11]. These may include:

Less expensive dog foods generally include less meat, and more animal by-products and grain fillers. Proponents of a natural diet criticize the use of such ingredients, and point out that regulations allow for packaging that might lead a consumer to believe that they are buying a natural food, when, in reality, the food might be comprised mostly of ingredients such as those listed above.[13][14] More expensive dog foods may be made of ingredients suitable for organic products or free-range meats. Ingredients must be listed by amount in descending order.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), animal by-products in pet food may include parts obtained from any animals who have died from sickness or disease provided they are rendered in accordance to law. As well, cow brains and spinal cords, not allowed for human consumption under federal regulation 21CFR589.2000 due to the possibility of transmission of BSE, are allowed to be included in pet food intended for non-ruminant animals.[15] In 2003, the AVMA speculated that changes might be made to animal feed regulations to ban materials from “4-D” animals – those who enter the food chain as dead, dying, diseased or disabled.[16]

Dog treats are special types of dog food given as a reward, not as a staple food source.

Special varieties

There are dog foods specially formulated for dogs allergic to common ingredients such as chicken, wheat, or corn. These foods usually contain "novel proteins" and substitute uncommon starches for the usual grains. Meats used in allergy formulas can range from the mundane, such as lamb, beef, or whitefish, to the unusual, such as venison or duck. Carbohydrates in allergy formulas are usually a less common grain, such as rice or barley, but such ingredients as potato and quinoa are sometimes used. Allergies are more likely to develop with consistent exposure to certain proteins (i.e. prolonged feeding of the same food).

It should be noted that the commercial approach to allergies in dogs is not the same as the veterinary approach. Prescription diets, purchased from a veterinarian, will often contain common ingredients that have been hydrolyzed to prevent them from triggering an immune response[17].

Some foods are designed for dogs with maladies, such as urinary tract infections, and some are tailored to the dietary needs of especially young or aging dogs. There are also vegetarian dog foods, for owners who do not want their dogs to consume meat products, as well as for dogs who have experienced allergic reactions to a number of animal-based ingredients.

Raw dog food

Supporters of raw feeding believe that the natural diet of an animal in the wild is its most ideal diet and try to mimic a similar diet for their domestic companion. They are commonly opposed to commercial pet foods, which they consider poor substitutes for raw feed. Opponents believe that the risk of food-borne illnesses posed by the handling and feeding of raw meats would outweigh the purported benefits and that no scientific studies have been done to support the numerous beneficial claims. The Food and Drug Administration of the United States states that they do not advocate a raw diet but recommends owners who insist on feeding raw to follow basic hygienic guidelines for handling raw meat to minimize risk to animal and human health.[18]

Raw dog food is distributed by various small suppliers.

Labeling

In the United States, dog foods labeled as "complete and balanced" must meet standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) either by meeting a nutrient profile or by passing a feeding trial. The Dog Food Nutrient Profiles were last updated in 1995 by the AAFCO's Canine Nutrition Expert Subcommittee. The updated profiles replaced the previous recommendations set by the National Research Council (NRC).

Critics argue that due to the limitations of the trial and the gaps in knowledge within animal nutrition science, the term "complete and balanced" is inaccurate and even deceptive. An AAFCO panel expert has stated that "although the AAFCO profiles are better than nothing, they provide false securities."[19]

Certain manufacturers label their products with terms such as premium, ultra premium, natural and holistic. Such terms currently have no legal definitions. There are also varieties of dog food labeled as "human-grade food". Although no official definition of this term exists, the assumption is that other brands use foods that would not pass US Food and Drug Administration inspection according to the Pure Food and Drug Act or the Meat Inspection Act.

The ingredients on the label must be listed in descending order by weight.

Recalls

Dog food at a supermarket in Brooklyn, New York.

The 2007 pet food recalls involved the massive recall of many brands of cat and dog foods beginning in March 2007. The recalls came in response to reports of renal failure in pets consuming mostly wet pet foods made with wheat gluten from a single Chinese company, beginning in February 2007. After more than three weeks of complaints from consumers, the recall began voluntarily with the Canadian company Menu Foods on March 16, 2007, when a company test showed sickness and death in some of the test animals.

Overall, several major companies have recalled more than 100 brands of pet foods, with most of the recalled product coming from Menu Foods. Although there are several theories of the source of the agent causing sickness in affected animals, with extensive government and private testing and forensic research, to date, no definitive cause has been isolated. As of April 10, the most likely cause, according to the FDA, though not yet proven, is indicated by the presence of melamine in wheat gluten in the affected foods.

In the United States, there has been extensive media coverage of the recall. There has been widespread public outrage and calls for government regulation of pet foods, which had previously been self-regulated by pet food manufacturers. The economic impact on the pet food market has been extensive, with Menu Foods losing roughly $30 Million alone from the recall. The events have caused distrust of most processed pet foods in some consumers.

Past recalls

In 1995 there was a dog food recall when the Nature’s Recipe company pulled thousands of tons of dog food off the shelf after consumers complained that their dogs were vomiting and losing their appetite. Nature’s Recipe’s loss amounted to $20 million. The problem was a fungus that produced vomitoxin (or “mycotoxin,” a toxic substance produced by mold) contaminating the wheat.

In 1999, another fungal toxin triggered the recall of dry dog food made by Doane Pet Care at one of its plants, including Ol’ Roy, Wal-Mart’s brand, as well as 53 other brands. This time the toxin killed 25 dogs.[20]

A 2005 consumer alert was released for contaminated Diamond Pet Foods for dogs and cats. Over 100 canine deaths and at least one feline fatality have been linked to Diamond Pet Foods contaminated by the potentially deadly toxin, Aflatoxin, according to Cornell University veterinarians.[21]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Messonnier, S. (2001) Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-7615-2673-0
  2. ^ "Food Allergies". http://dogs.about.com/cs/dietandnutrition/qt/corn_free.htm. 
  3. ^ "Pet Food Labels". http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/ucm047113.htm. 
  4. ^ "Determining the Main Ingredients". http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=betterproducts. 
  5. ^ "How do you rate dog foods?". http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/how-do-you-rate-the-foods.html. 
  6. ^ "Wheat Gluten". http://www.ancarevet.com/index.php?view=pageView&docid=100049623. 
  7. ^ "Natural Sales Rising". http://www.petfoodindustry.com/ViewArticle.aspx?id=21384&terms=Natural+sales+rising. 
  8. ^ "BBC NEWS". news.bbc.co.uk. 2007-01-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6288107.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  9. ^ "Pg 18 April Issue 08, “A Fresh Idea”". http://www.petfoodindustry-digital.com/petfoodindustry/200804/?u1=texterity. 
  10. ^ "Making Homemade dog food recipes". http://specialneedspets.org/animals/index.php/recipes/. 
  11. ^ Dog Food Project: Bad ingredients
  12. ^ Code of Federal Regulations,Title 9, Volume 2, Sec. 355.29 Composition of certified products for dogs, cats, and other carnivora.
  13. ^ Wysong - Companion Animal - Learn - The Pet Food Ingredient Game
  14. ^ Food Pets Die For; a Book Excerpt
  15. ^ the Association of American Feed Control Officials
  16. ^ Canada Wraps Up BSE Investigation
  17. ^ "Best Dog Food Guide, "Elimination Diet using Hypo Allergenic Dog Food Explained"". http://www.best-dog-food-guide.com/elimination-diet.html. 
  18. ^ "FDA, "FDA TIPS for Preventing Foodborne Illness Associated with Pet Food and Pet Treats"". Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/cvm/foodbornetips.htm. 
  19. ^ "Alternative Feeding Practices". World Small Animal Veterinary Association. 2001. http://www.vin.com/VINDBPub/SearchPB/Proceedings/PR05000/PR00001.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  20. ^ "Animal Protection Institute (API)". http://www.api4animals.org/facts.php?p=359&more=1. 
  21. ^ "The Cornell Vet College". http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Jan06/dogs.dying.ssl.html. 

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