All dog food companies boast about having good-for-your-dog ingredients or they offer foods for certain types of dogs or breeds, but what most companies don’t usually discuss is: How is their dry dog food made? Dog parents see the finished kibble, but what happens to the ingredients as they are turned into kibble can have a major impact on how nutritious the food will be for your dog.
Every dry dog food formula is different, so each company has different steps they follow to create its own specific product. However, there are a few common processes that many dog food brands follow to create their kibble.
The Dry Dog Food Process
What’s in the food
Fortunately, companies can’t just use any ingredients in their food. Pet food is highly regulated with a long list of requirements that need to be met by pet food manufacturers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates pet food products and their ingredients and is involved with rules around pet food labels, ingredient definitions and ingredient approvals. In addition, there are state regulations which are often more strict. States typically follow the guidelines set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and are responsible for overseeing the nutritional guarantees of each product as well as the information included on the packaging itself. All of these regulations are in place to define the requirements for pet food production.
Every dog food starts with a recipe of ingredients. Every brand has its own proprietary blend of ingredients. These typically include some form of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals. Recipes differ to accommodate different sized dogs or special needs such as reduced fat dog foods or food for sensitive dogs. Starting with high-quality ingredients is important to producing a high-quality food.
Some pet food companies do not make their own food, they contract with an outside manufacturer to make and package the product for them, while other companies make their own dry dog food in their own plant.
How it’s cooked
There are multiple ways that dog food companies cook their products, but one of the most common is through extrusion. Once all the raw ingredients are collected, they’ll be ground down and mixed together to create a dough or paste. Extrusion is a process where these mixtures are pushed through a machine so that it can be formed and cut into multiple pieces of the same shape. As the dough is forced through the machine, it’s exposed to extreme pressure and extreme temperatures that cook the mixture before it is cut off into identical pieces (think Cheerios®).
This process allows companies to quickly produce large amounts of dog food. However, these efficiencies come at a cost. The high temperatures and pressures needed for extruding dog food may damage the key nutrients found in the raw ingredients, which means your dog might not benefit as much as you’d expect because of the particular way the food is processed.
In addition, extruded dry dog food kibbles almost always need additional flavoring to make up for what was lost during manufacturing. This process, sometimes called enrobing, sprays on a combination of rendered fat and additional liquid or powder flavoring to the finished dry food to make it taste better and be more appealing to dogs than it would be otherwise
While many dog food companies extrude their kibble, Bil-Jac avoids the extruder since we have developed our own, more gentle way to prepare dry dog food by slow cooking it in small batches instead.
- We start with 25 lbs. of fresh chicken to make a 30 lb. bag of Adult Select Dry Dog Food.
- Then we slow-cook the recipe in small batches at lower temperatures than extrusion to help protect the key nutrients including the essential amino acids your dog needs daily and omega fatty acids that nourish the skin and coat.
- Once the food is done cooking, it needs to be dried before it is packaged. We gently air-dry the dog food to help protect the key nutrients and taste that dogs naturally love.
Eliminating the extrusion process allows for three big differences in our dry food. First, we can use more fresh chicken ingredients to start instead of rendered dry meals. An extruder would limit the amount of fresh chicken we use. Second, slow cooking certain ingredients, like corn, creates numerous nutritional benefits that a rapid cooking extrusion process can’t offer. Third, the lower and slower cooking temperatures help to protect the key nutrients dogs need daily in their diet.
Our process takes longer and is made in smaller batches, but it yields a food that is highly nutritious and tastes great, which are two big benefits for your best friend and your many years together.
Which Dry Dog Food is Right for Your Furry Friend?
The dog food market is chock full of options, but the right product comes down to a couple of questions:
- Which dog food will help my dog live a happy, healthy life?
- Which dog food does he enjoy?
The right dry dog food should meet both criteria. At Bil-Jac, we have been making dog food for over 72 years. The way we make Bil-Jac Dry Dog Food is truly unique and unprecedented in the industry. From the high-quality ingredients we use, to the way we purposely cook slowly and dry it gently to help protect the key nutrients we start with, we make your dog’s food unlike any other dry dog food in the world. Bil-Jac wants to ensure we deliver the right amount of quality proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals it takes for a complete, balanced diet.
Of course, those benefits won’t mean much if your dog just isn’t a fan of the taste. One of the most exciting things about the way we make Bil-Jac Dry is the amazing taste it has — a taste that dogs love thanks to the fresh chicken ingredients we use. Don’t believe us? Take the two-bowl challenge and see for yourself. All you have to do is place a bowl of your dog’s regular food next to a bowl with Bil-Jac and see which bowl your dog prefers.
Well made, high-quality dog food provides the daily nutrition a dog needs for a lifetime of activity and health. It’s more than just ingredients, it’s the result of both high-quality ingredients and how the food is prepared.
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