How can we reverse the dwindling spiral? Start feeding REAL food. I call REAL food anything that is less cooked, purchased at a grocery store, and still bears a resemblance of its former self. That means not processed. Saying that, I understand that everyone’s life may not allow the time needed to do home cooking, or the money to buy good packaged raw or dehydrated food. Then where does that leave you? Shopping for a BAKED kibble or good ingredient list of canned food.
I will stroll with you through some basic information that can help you in making better choices. One thing to keep in mind. The money you don’t spend now on good food you will spend later on veterinary bills. Why? Because you love your animals. And when that time of illness arises, you will spend mega dollars to try to save his or her life. So, let’s do that starting NOW!
AVOID PROCESSED DOG FOOD
The majority of kibble (dry food) is cooked through an extrusion method. Similar to the microwave, the extrusion process greatly reduces the nutritional value of the food. It cooks at a high temperature and steam for a short period of time in what is called an expander. Then the dough is forced or “extruded” though small holes called “die” which cut it into kibble pieces. This has to be done while the dough is still compact from the high pressure – otherwise the dough would puff up (like puffed cereal).
After the pieces are cut, they are dried, after which an enrobing process applies a fat/oil and then sprays on synthetic nutrients to replace those lost in the processing.
The early stages of this process are the same for baked dog foods. The ingredients for the food are mixed together. However, baked dog food does not use an expander and it is not cooked with steam or under pressure. Pet foods that are oven baked are typically baked more slowly in an oven. They are cooked for a longer period of time than extruded pet foods. They do not use steam or high temperatures.
Pet Food Processing – Transformations in Starch during Extrusion and Baking
This research article lays out why extruded diets (all kibble except where label explicitly says “baked”) add to the inflammatory state of dogs and cats. I have summarized it here but encourage you to read the entire article.
Gelatinization is an exothermic reaction of starch that occurs when it is exposed to heat and moisture at time intervals. This reaction causes a disruption of the crystalline structure, absorption of water, swelling, and raises the accessibility for digestion by enzymes like amylase. This increases starch digestibility but when eaten also raises glucose in the blood. This can be a factor as to why dogs and cats fed diets in this form over years, especially in excess, become obese and diabetic.
There is a unique phenomenon that occurs with the cooking or processing of starch that makes it potentially indigestible and it is called Amylose-Lipid Complexation (A-LC). The A-LC is a function of heat, moisture, content, type of starch, type of lipid, and degree of gelatinization. In processing, amylose traps lipids. Starch gelatinization traps lipids to amylose, reducing free fat availability. This can be good for the product, as it lowers rancidity and extends the shelf life, but not for the body.
When fresh meat versus meat meal is used in the food there is a much lower the A-LC score. Fresh meat will produce only 0-20% A-LC. Un-rendered fresh meat may be protected from thermal and mechanical conditioning, thereby preventing A-LC formation.
The extrusion process of making kibble raises the A-LC 90-100%, while baked kibble tested was less than 60%.
Diets high in starch are a nutritional problem for our pets. Excess starch erodes a pet’s health in subtle ways, including blood sugar spikes, digestion issues & dermatitis.
“Grain free” kibble can also have starch. Kibble using pea protein, sweet potato and quinoa may be termed “grain-free” but can also have high starch content. Raw diets and freeze-dried raw are one-sixth the starch content of kibble.
All but less than 10 brands of bagged dog food use what is called EXTRUSION processing. This type of food does several less than optimal things:
- The high carbohydrate starch content drives obesity
- The easily emulsified stomach gruel changes the normal digestive signals to liver, gall bladder, stomach, and intestines, altering absorption, intestinal lining continuity, and the microbiome
- Many ingredients have been exposed to glyphosate. Here is a brief synopsis about round-up. [INSERT – Glyphosate in the Food Chain]. Shopping for organic ingredients will help reduce the presence of this chemical.
- The end results are potential to become obese, develop pancreatic malfunction, endocrine disruption, indigestion, diarrhea, gas, leaky gut, immune dysfunction, inflammatory conditions, allergies, skin issues – over and over again
Sound like any pet you have known? If you are still certain that kibble is right for you and your dog, here are the 2020 top baked food brands. Not in any order but I have used and sold the first two.
- Lotus Oven-Baked Dry Food
- Stella & Chewy’s
- AvoDerm Oven-Baked Original Formula
- Leonard Powell Signature Series Oven-Baked Dinner
- Evolve Lamb & Rice Maintenance
- Cloud Star WellMade Baked Chicken Meal, Peas, & Lentils Recipe
- I and Love and You Baked & Saucy Beef & Sweet Potatoes
- Wellness TruFoods Baked Blends Adult
HOME COOKED – THE BEST YET!
The benefits of home cooking is key to those pets with digestive, immune, and skin problems. Eliminating additives, preservatives, chemicals, natural flavorings, reducing potential allergens, and selecting the ingredients you like to shop for can be the FIRST step toward a healthier body. Often reducing the need to use chemical drugs to abate a body reaction.
I can customize balanced recipes for your dog or cat. I can test for food allergens and you select from those safe ingredients which you know your pet likes best. There are many sites on the internet where you can find recipes as well. But in looking, some are good and others not so good, often leaving out the importance of an oil and a good multi-vitamin-mineral supplement. For those reasons I have included here a link to a veterinarian who has a great method of providing home cooked preparation meals.
The Original CrockPET Diet
What’s behind the science of The Original CrockPET Diet?
There are so many reasons homemade dog food and cat food is the healthiest option, the most important being that you know exactly what your pet is eating. The basis of your pet’s health begins with the food they eat, and ingredients truly matter. Controlling the ingredients of your pet’s food not only assures the quality of their diet, but their health as well.
While the importance of which ingredients go into your pet’s food is of the highest priority, it’s also vital to keep certain things out of their bowls. And it’s not just mysterious ingredients you’re protecting them from, it’s harmful chemicals, bacteria and other dangerous contaminants. Home cooking guarantees that you know what is in your pet’s food, but also what is not.
The food our pets eat can be the very best medicine, or a slow poison. Changing an animal’s diet can bring about a significantly positive change in their health, and their overall quality of life. Homemade pet food can actually function as true food therapy, and allows pet parents the opportunity to activate this healing lifestyle for their pets, right from their own home.<.
If you don’t have time to cook and are uncomfortable with raw, but would like the benefits that they offer there are several companies now providing home delivery on dry ice of whole food prepared diets, ready to serve. One company I like serving human-grade ingredients, lightly cooked then frozen so you can serve fresh, is www.RaisedRightPets.com/IVE. They offer some coupons and discounts for first time orders. Look for the brand