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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Is all dry food the same?

I was having an conversation with someone at work the other day about dog food and they said that there are more than one type of dry food, and I said it was all the same - just different brand names. Can you settle the argument, it's just dry or wet surely!
Kevin Lynch, Newbury, Berks

I have to break it to you - I can think of four different types of dry food at least! Extruded, baked, cold pressed and freeze dried. There may be even more! Can anyone think of any more?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

… and that just relates to the texture of the dried food. More important for your dog’s health is the formulation. That refers not only to the quality of the ingredients but also to the proportions in which they appear in the food.
Dog food has come a long way since the days when you simply bought dog food for your dog, or perhaps cooked it from scratch. I well remember the smell of pet mince boiling on the stove – we bought it from the butcher, cooked it in a saucepan with a little water, and then poured it into aluminium tins. Once cool, an inch thick layer of white fat solidified on top.
When you go to buy dog food now, there is a very wide range of brands available, which in itself will vary between outlets. The initial decision is between wet and dried, or deciding to feed a combination of the two. There are essentially two broad categories of dog food: life stage or prescription. A life stage food is designed for the dog with no health issues, and addresses the needs of the healthy individual as he moves through life from puppy to young adult, active or inactive, entire or neutered, and in to senior years. It is also possible to find foods geared to meet the special needs of toy breeds and large breeds, and some ranges offer foods for specific breeds.
A prescription food is fed under veterinary supervision because the formulation addresses a specific health issue such as, for example, kidney disease, liver disease, obesity. As such, your dog’s health will dictate the need to feed a prescription diet. There are different ranges which address health issues in different ways through their individual formulations.
Above all, however, there is one factor which decides which food a dog will eat – palatability. We have different tastes from each other, and dogs are not much different. Some are fussier than others. I am lucky in that my Labradors will eat anything put in their bowls (and anything else they find outside their bowls, whatever its state of decay!). A food may have great health attributes, but it will be of no help if it is not eaten. One dried food may look very much like another, but they do taste differently, as any owner of a fussy dog will attest!
Alison Logan, Vet


  1. No, all dried food is not the same.

    In very simplistic terms, the dried food available on supermarket shelves tends to be full of junk; while the dried food available only from pet stores tends to be of a higher quality. The, as Beverley says, there are different ways of making or forming the dried food too.

    1. Hi Sam, i don't necessarily agree with your comment on all supermarket dog food being full of junk.... we have came across Vets Kitchen while looking into the BEST foods to feed to our Alaskan Klee Kai, Badger. We tried Orijen, JWB, CSJ and also tried him on BARF diet amongst others. Vets Kitchen is now available in supermarkets and i think its great that such a high quality and affordable dog food is readily available to the masses and also gives owners the choice of buying a better quality of food for their pet from the supermarket.

  2. Fiona (Nutritionist, Burns Pet Nutrition )3 February 2012 at 07:33

    Not all dry food is the same - you can compare dry foods by looking at the daily recommended feeding amounts and the ingredients and analysis.
    Daily Feeding Amounts - these reflect how digestible the food is. If you have to feed a lot of food each day - this indicates the food is not very digestible so your dog will produce more poo and it will cost you more per day to feed.
    Ingredients - apart from avoiding the obvious such as sugars and colours and chemicals such as BHA and BHT (often labelled as something like EC permitted additives/preservatives) you should also avoid vague ingredients lists. A good quality diet will tell you exactly what is in the food and will read something like: rice, lamb, sunflower oil e.t.c. whereas a diet which says 'cereals, meat and animal derivatives, oils...' is not telling you what is in the food. These diets are not good for sensitive dogs as you cannot determine what they are reacting to. The vague ingredients means that the producer can change the recipe without changing the packaging.
    Typical Analysis - this is the bit that tells you how much protein and fat (oil) is in the food. Some foods are very high in protein and fat and others are much lower. You would need to compare the different foods against each other.
    Then there are hypo-allergenic diets, natural diets, organic diets, ethical diets (don't forget the welfare of the animals in the food itslef when choosing one for your dog) hydrolysed diets, diets with novel ingredients for extra sensitive pets and nuch more!

  3. We feed Vets Kitchen as a dry food, our rescue French bulldog came to us on a different type of dry food which I won't name and by GOLLY did he stink. He has an extremely sensitive stomach and the previous food he was on in his previous home did not agree with him at all. Vets Kitchen is much better for him and as well as the smell going down, his fur has come up all shiny too! We couldn't be happier. Just goes to show you food plays a big part in dog health and that indeed, NOT all dry food is the same!

  4. Dried food is definitely not all the same. I have fed my dog on a variety of dry foods in the 10 months that I have had him, in an attempt to sort out his stomach problems and nothing helped, until I discovered Vet's Kitchen complete dry food. Not only does he love it, but it also sorted out his tummy problems and his dull and flaky coat almost immedicately. I would never think of feeding him anything else now and have recommded it to loads of my friends too. It is such good quality food and does not contain any cereal which is the one thing that my dog is allergic to, but is contained in so many other dog foods.

    1. The vets kitchen diets do contain rice and oats - so they are not totally cereal free :-)

  5. No, dry dog food isn't all the same, I certainly wouldn't give all supermarket brands of dog food a bad name as I've been on both ends of the dog food spectrum.

    I got my first dog from a rescue centre and all she had ever eaten was Bakers and that's all she ate until she died at 15 years old. She was healthy, had a beautiful coat and passed perfect stools.
    My current dog has had a dodgy tummy and itchy skin since I got him as a pup. After trying a million and one diets, dry and wet, have landed on Vets Kitchen. This diet is available in supermarkets, cheaper than the average bag of food and is also created by a vet.

    It's not what you put into your dog, but what THEY get out of it.