The Differences Between Dry, Wet, Dehydrated, and Raw Nutrition
With hundreds of brands on the market, all providing a huge variety of different food formats, it is common for pet owners to face the dilemma of not knowing which type of food to choose for their pet! In terms of which pet food format to feed, this very much comes down to the particular needs and preferences of an individual pet, along with what works best for the owner. Looking into the differences between each food format from nutrition, convenience, and suitability; this post will hopefully help you to make a better-informed decision about which pet food is best for both you and your furry friend!
When most people think about pet food, they think round, brown kibble. The majority of dog and cat owners in New Zealand feed their pets kibble and there are good reasons for this. Dry kibble that is formulated to be complete and balanced, contains all your pets required nutrition including protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals in amounts that meet your pet’s needs. Convenience is certainly key when we think about dry foods; pet food in the forms of extruded kibble and baked biscuits are easy to serve and portion with minimal mess. Dry foods are also a great option for pets who may take their time when feeding and who choose to regularly return to their food as it stays fresher left out in the dish longer than wet food. Though, it’s not just all about convenience; wet foods have a higher moisture content than dry foods, and so for your pet to get their required nutrition they don’t need to consume as much dry food on a daily basis as the nutrients are much more concentrated. You can pack a lot of goodness into those small pieces of kibble!
Dry foods are also a great way to support oral health; bacteria can build up around the gum line and in between teeth, causing bad breath and potential dental issues. The abrasion from chewing kibble can help to prevent plaque and tartar build up, but like with all pet food formats, your pet's diet should always be combined with a regular dental care routine. Still, premium dry foods are a great option for high-quality nutrition and advances in technology today enables kibble to be jam-packed with super premium ingredients, have high meat contents and be rich in protein.
Wet pet foods are available in different formats including pouches, cans and trays with contents such as chunky casseroles and loaf styles; they are a great way to add variety to your pet's diet by either feeding alongside a dry food or as a sole diet. Some pets also find wet food more palatable than dry; cats require a high amount of protein in their diet and research has shown that cats can differentiate between foods based on their macronutrient composition and adjust their intake of foods to maximise their protein intake and reduce carbohydrate intake. And with that being said, kibble generally contains more carbohydrates than wet food does due to the processing requirements to form the kibble shape. Wet pet food can also be better suited for picky eaters, as well as senior dogs who may have lost their sense of taste with age or struggle to chew dry foods due to lack of teeth. Another key benefit of feeding wet food is the hydration it provides to your pet; wet food contains around 70-80% moisture content in comparison with dry foods that contain around 10%. However, it’s still crucial to always provide fresh, clean drinking water for your pet, regardless of the food type you are feeding them.
Air-Dried and Freeze-Dried Foods
Air-dried and freeze-dried are pet food formats that are becoming increasing popular due to their unique methods of production. Unlike wet and dry pet foods that are heated to relatively high temperatures to ‘cook’ the ingredients and make them safe for your pet to eat, air-dried and freeze-dried foods are created in a gentle way where the moisture content of the ingredients, such as the meat, is reduced to a level so that harmful microbes are unable to grow. Both methods produce foods that are highly nutritious and palatable to your pet due to the mild processing, which retains a high amount of nutrients found in the ingredients. These diets are also generally easier to digest than dry foods and so are a great option to try for pets with sensitive stomachs!
Raw foods are also growing in popularity among pet parents due to the natural format of these diets; commercially prepared raw diets are available and consist mainly of raw muscle and organ meats, bones, fruits, and vegetables. However, unlike the other food types talked about in this post, raw food diets require a lot more time in terms of hygienic preparation and ensuring a balanced diet is provided as there is the potential risk of an imbalance in nutrients if the food is not fed in the correct proportions to meet the nutritional needs of your pet. It is also common to notice a difference in your pets’ stools if you change to a raw diet as there is less waste during digestion due to the higher bioavailability of raw ingredients, and so less to come out at the other end! Still, if you are thinking of feeding your pet raw food, it is best to seek advice from your Vet to ensure you are providing them with a nutritionally balanced and safe diet.
So, after considering the most common food formats available to your pet, which one is best? Well, fortunately when it comes to pet food it isn’t the case that ‘one fits all’. Having so many options on the market to choose from is a great bonus and allows you to explore options that will best suit the needs of both you and your pet. Combine an active lifestyle with a diet that contains high quality ingredients and is suitably nutritionally balanced, and your pet will be sure to thrive!