Walking down the food aisle of any pet supply store, you will find an overwhelming number of choices available. Along with traditional dry kibble and wet canned foods, there are now options like fresh dog food and freeze-dried cat food to choose from.
Clients of Anasazi Animal Clinic are always asking what is the best food they should be feeding their pets. Let’s take a closer look at these different types of pet food options.
Types of Pet Foods
For starters, let’s examine what kinds of pet foods are available on the market today. These include dry, wet canned, fresh, and raw pet foods.
Dry Pet Food
Probably the most well-known pet food is the dry variety, usually referred to as kibble. To make dry pet food, manufacturers cook the ingredients at a high temperature while being extruded to create small shapes. Many pet owners choose dry pet food as it is very affordable, has a long shelf life, and provides the nutrients dogs and cats need to grow and stay healthy. One downside to dry pet food is it has a very low moisture content—this means pets on a dry food-only diet should always have access to fresh water as they will not receive moisture from the dry food.
Usually found in cans, “wet” pet food typically consists of a meaty portion surrounded by a sauce or gravy. Just like dry food, wet canned food contains all the nutrients dogs and cats need to stay healthy, but it has a much higher moisture content. The extra moisture can provide health benefits for animals who do not drink a lot of water during the day. Wet food has a stronger smell than dry food, which can be an enticement for older pets as their appetite wanes. And, for cats or dogs with mouth or teeth issues, it can be much easier to chew than dry kibble.
Fresh Pet Food
One of the newest types of pet food on the market, fresh dog foods and cat foods sounds a lot like what you might be making for dinner for yourself. They contain whole protein sources like chicken, lamb, or beef, plus vegetables and whole grains. Fresh pet foods are generally cooked at a lower temperature than dry kibble and wet canned foods. However, because they do not contain preservatives, they require refrigeration or freezing to stay fresh. Refrigerated pet foods can be found in stores or purchased through subscription services that create customized meals based on your pet’s dietary needs.
Raw Pet Food
Raw dog and cat food have the same whole protein sources, fruits, and vegetables you find in fresh pet food in an uncooked form. Some raw pet foods include ingredients like raw eggs, yogurt, and/or ground bone. Because of the lack of preservatives, raw pet foods are usually kept frozen or preserved through dehydration (freeze-dried cat food). While raw pet foods provide a lot of nutrients, this diet is not suitable for every pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association discourages pet owners from feeding animals a raw food diet that has not been cooked or pasteurized.
Is Raw or Fresh Dog Food Better?
In the epic battle of raw vs kibble vs fresh vs canned food, there is no clear winner. All four pet food types have their own positives and negatives. Choosing the right food comes down to the specific health needs of your cat or dog and your veterinarian’s recommendations for the specific nutrients your pet needs to live a long, healthy life.
If you’re unsure which type of pet food is the best option for your four-legged companion, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact the vets at Anasazi Animal Clinic today to make an appointment.
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