Baked Dog Food?
Have you ever heard of oven-baked dog food, or even thought of how dog food is made? Pet food is baked, pressed or run through an extruder. It is a lot less expensive to extrude or press dog food than to bake or “kibble” it. All dog food that is mass-marketed is extruded.
Oven-Baked Dog Food – The process starts with the meat protein (chicken, lamb, trout, etc.) ground into a very small meal. This small meal is necessary for the mixing of the kibble. Think of trying to mix up a meat loaf without thawing the beef first. It would be impossible; the same is true for mixing a baked kibble. When all ingredients are blended the kibble is baked in “shortbread cookie” (small 2-inch biscuit) form and then broken into smaller, irregular kibble ranging in size from tiny morsels to about ½ inch. Baking temperatures are from 350° to 475°.
Extruded pet food is cooked by steaming it as quickly as possible, usually less than 2 minutes, then extruding it with high pressure through a machine with shaped die holes. The food will be uniform in shape. Oils are sprayed on to increase palatability so pets find it more appealing. You can sometimes feel the sticky oils when you handle the food. If low quality oils are used they can become rancid. Extruded pet food cannot contain more than 50% meat or it will clog the machine.
Oven cooked canine food changes hard-to-digest molecules of “raw” starches into easy to digest dextrins. This process acts as a pre-digest of the kibble food, resulting in less strain on the dog’s digestive system and produces a greater degree of food absorption. It’s not necessary to spay anything on the food for flavor. The oven baking retains the flavor.
Digestibility and Palatability
It has been shown that baked food scores in the high 90’s for digestibility and palatability. Most extruded food is in the low 80’s on a scale of 100. This means dogs will typically eat less of a food with higher rating and like the taste.
It is true that oven-baked kibble with natural preservatives has a shorter shelf life.
The shelf life may be shorter but does dog food really need a shelf life longer than the dog eating it?
You can see, smell and feel the difference in oven-baked and extruded canine food.
Some dogs do better with oven-baked kibble while extruded is good enough for other dogs.