Processing pet food changes the consistency and nutritional content. Manufacturers do this in order to ensure the food is safe for your pet to eat. That is, certain steps in the process of making pet food are there to eliminate harmful bacteria or to prevent the food from spoiling. Sometimes processing is for convenience of the pet food company, but often it is to deliver the convenient product demanded by pet parents. When evaluating what form or brand of pet food to feed your dog or cat, consider the different processing steps, what they do, and how high-quality pet food manufacturers make sure your pet’s food is safe and nutritious.
Homemade Pet Food Has the Least Processing
Obviously, food you prepare at home for your pet, with ingredients you purchased at the grocery store or butcher, will be the freshest and have the least amount of processing. As long as pet parents do their research and follow recipes that ensure each meal contains optimal nutrition and is biologically-appropriate for their pet, this is a great option. They must also avoid feeding raw meat or poultry that might contain bacterial pathogens that could make pets sick. Finally, appropriately feeding homemade pet food requires more preparation than most pet parents want to do. This is why most feed commercial dog and cat food.
Some Raw Frozen Pet Diets Have Almost No Processing
Most “raw” pet food manufacturers use High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) to prevent pathogens that can make your pets sick. This method incorporates water pressure to sterilize the food. Tests have shown that HPP denatures, or structurally changes, proteins in the raw meat, lowering the nutrients in the food. Raw diets that have been pasteurized with high pressure have lost some of their raw food benefits.
Instead, Nature’s Logic takes other steps to ensure safety without pasteurizing our raw food. The Company uses ingredients that have been tested for quality and purity to help alleviate any potential risk of pathogens, rancidity, or toxins and produces all of its raw products in a USDA Human Food Plant.(1)
Canned Pet Food Processed at High Heat
High-protein, low-carbohydrate canned pet foods can have all the same nutrients and moisture content as raw foods, except for the natural enzymes and probiotics. The processing steps required for safe canning require sterilizing at temperatures around 250°F,(2) thus denaturing digestive enzymes and killing any probiotics (healthy bacteria) naturally in the food. Pet parents have the benefit of a food that is stable on their shelves for three to five years, but it is a good idea to add a supplement with digestive enzymes plus either probiotics or prebiotics if feeding canned food only.
Dry Kibble Most Processed Pet Food but Still Nutritionally-Complete
A biologically-appropriate dry food for cats and dogs formulated to supply proper nutrition for all life-stages will ensure all essential nutrients are present. Dry foods are heated to thicken the starch (grain, potato, peas, tapioca, etc.) then extruded under high pressure to obtain the shape and size.(3) Pet food companies mainly use extrusion cooking technology to produce dry pet foods because of a combination of benefits including better pasteurization, maintenance of nutritional value, flexibility and density control."(4) The process of heating kibble to extrude and dry it does reduce the nutritional value of some components in the food, like certain vitamins and amino acids. However, the nutrient loss is typically no more than 25% as a result of modern food processing operations.(5)
To compensate for the loss of nutrients, pet food manufacturers begin the process using levels higher than needed, so that the final product contains all the nutrients a pet needs. Most companies add extra synthetic vitamins to the recipe, and the unwanted ingredients and potential toxins that go along with synthetic nutrients.(6) Nature’s Logic adds extra nutrients to its dry kibble before processing but does so with concentrates of dried real food…not chemicals. The company adds NO synthetic vitamins or minerals to any of its formulas, instead deriving all nutrients from food.
Some high-quality kibbles apply specially-prepared probiotics and enzymes after the heat and drying steps. This ensures that they remain viable and active when pets eat the food containing them. The dried enzymes need moisture to become active, while probiotics require a source of food, optimal temperature and pH, as well as moisture to grow.(7) Thus; they remain dormant on the kibble until the conditions exist to activate them.
Whether you feed raw, canned or kibble, migrating to more natural and biologically-appropriate pet food for your dog or cat will result in greater health and longer lives for your companion animals. Nature’s Logic makes a full line of 100% natural pet foods with no man-made ingredients. For more information visit www.natureslogic.com
4. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. (2011), doi:10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2011.03.009