How Is Pet Kibble Made?steve rinker
Have you ever looked at those little nuggets of pet food, and wondered what’s in them and how they’re made? Your pet eats it every day, but you may have no idea exactly what goes into it. Your pet probably thinks you’re the world’s best hunter – you go out from time to time, and come back with a huge bag of food, and they don’t have to expend any effort at all, because you’ve taken care of it!
It’s Not Magic, or Even Good Hunting
Your pet might be disappointed to know that you’re not really a great hunter, but if you don’t tell him, we promise to keep your secret, too! You know that you just go to the grocery store or the pet store, and you can choose from dozens of different brands. So who’s really doing the work?
Obviously, it’s the pet food company. Each and every pet food company devises its own recipe, and then delivers it to a manufacturer who mixes, bakes, and bags the food. All pet foods are regulated, and required to be nutritionally balanced. Their recipe has to be approved, and can contain ingredients like chicken, beef and eggs, as well as additional minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It’s all mixed together, and then pounded into a sort of dough that can be cooked.
Dry pet food has been around since at least the early 1800s, and may have even existed in early Rome. It’s created using a method called extrusion, which takes the dough we’ve just talked about, and feeds it into a special machine that cooks the ingredients. Then the dough is extruded through holes in the machinery, and cut off. It puffs up, and then goes through a dryer to take out the moisture. Now you have kibble. The finished product is sprayed with minerals, vitamins, oils and fats, and then sealed in packaging before the fats are able to deteriorate.
Is All Kibble the Same?
You might think that you can just buy any type of dry pet food, and it will provide the nutrition your dog or cat needs. Or, you might believe that you have to buy the most expensive product on the market in order to ensure that your pet is receiving the nutrients he or she needs for good health or a long life. Actually, neither is true.
You should carefully read the labels on any food that you buy for your pet. You may find that some very expensive brands contain more of one or another type of nutrient, but is it an essential nutrient? Would you be just as well off buying the generic brand and offering a multi-vitamin from time to time? Your veterinarian can offer advice on what to feed your pet, but generally speaking, the first ingredient on your pet food bag should be protein. Most dogs thrive on a diet that is composed of protein, vegetables and grain, in order of importance. Cats, on the other hand, are mainly carnivorous, and won’t thrive on diets that are high in vegetables or grain. With cats, it’s actually safest to buy food products that are represented as “grain free.”
The Final Word
You don’t have to be a veterinarian, or a pet nutritionist. Your job is deliver proper nutrition to your pet, and that means that you simply have to be a label-reader. Your pet trusts you to deliver the nutrition that he or she needs, so read labels thoroughly and even compulsively, and when in doubt as to your pet’s nutritional requirements, consult your veterinarian.