Commercial Pet Food focuses on providing pets all the necessary nutrients in one convenient package (Nestle & Nesheim, 2010). These packages can come in dry forms as kibble, or wet forms in a can. Aside from these two most basic diets, there is also the new popular choice of feeding your pets a raw diet. All these diets have benefits and implications to them.
After the early 1900s, the competition for pet food greatly increased leading to different size, shapes, and colors of kibbles we see in dog food today. Size is useful for dogs of different size, smaller pellets would be suitable for smaller breeds when it is not listed specifically for breed sizes. On the contrary, larger kibbles could also be provided for smaller dogs in order for them to chew more before swallowing, this is useful for dogs who eat too fast leading to digestive distress. As for shapes and color of pellets, this is mainly an aesthetic scheme in order to draw attention to the owners purchasing the food. No matter what color of shape the food is, the dogs will eat it without pondering on its looks (Nestle & Nesheim, 2010). There are a few benefits associated with kibble. Kibble is much less expensive compared to canned diet. It also has a good storage life and allows the dog to eat ad libitum without worrying about spoilage. Also, kibbles scraps the teeth allowing some cleaning properties. Some kibbles are specially formulated to clean teeth as the dog eats. However, the implications include the lack of water in kibble diets. The water content is only about 10-12% and becomes a problem if the dog does not drink enough water. Therefore, kibble diets are not suitable for dogs who are ill or live in dry, climates (PetMD, n.d; Jensen, n.d). Kibble contains more carbohydrates in order to hold everything together in a pellet form. This would be in the form of cereals like wheat or corn (MedicAnimal, n.d).
Early wet food were considered as packaged industrial food scraps. Anything that was considered unsuitable for human consumption but still provided good nutrition was packaged and made into dog food. This includes organs, fats, poor quality meat and meat from animals not normally consumed. The benefits of canned food, unlike kibbles, has higher amounts of water, about 74-82%. This would be beneficial for dogs that do not consume enough water, those who have reduced olfactory senses or pets without a good appetite. Also, there are less calories by the volume since it contains water which would be useful to help overweight canines. It also has a much stronger scent that allows it to be much more attractive for appetite. Being wet though, many dogs could easily create a mess after the meal. It also increases the risk of developing dental problems. Wet food has a much shorter shelf life after being opened and is relatively more expensive than kibble. Wet food would be suitable for dogs with illnesses, while kibble is a better choice for dogs who are relatively healthy (PetMED, n.d; Jensen, n.d). Wet foods contain higher amounts of proteins in fats compared to kibble which provides it that high palatability. Many times the amount of carbohydrates in forms of cereal would not be seen on the label of a can of wet food (MedicAnimal, n.d).
One example of comparing dry food and canned food nutrient components:
Finally, we have raw diets. This sort of diet has risen in popularity due to being more natural and without preservatives. Many owners see the amount of by-products added into pet food and question whether it is suitable for their companions. Research has found that raw food diets have increased digestive enzymes that releases the maximum amount of free energy for the dog. Many owners consider a raw diet much safer with all the food recalls occurring for commercial pet foods, but this is debatable. Providing a raw diet gives the owner more control over their pet’s health, they can avoid foods that the dog may be allergic to, alter water content and provide variety. However, with any raw foods there is a chance for Samonella, Escherichia coli and other bacteria that could cause illness in humans. Owners who do not have a knowledge in nutrition could result in malnutrition for the dogs (Schlesinger & Joffe, 2011; Finley, Reid-Smith, Weese & Angulo, 2006).