We all want the best for our dogs. After all, if you've reached this article it is because you are looking to find out more about diets your dog could benefit from and whether dehydrated dog food is for you.
But with so many dog foods on the market, how do you know what to look for and what is actually best for your dog.
Dehydrated dog food is perhaps not as well known as other diets, but some say it combines the best of wet and dry dog foods. To understand more about the diet and what it involves, we asked nutritional experts from Land Of Holistic Pets to share their thoughts.
So firstly, let's look at exactly what dehydrated dog food is.
How does the process of dehydration manage to keep in all of the goodness your dog needs?
Dehydration is the process of removing the moisture while at the same time locking in the nutrients and goodness. It is one of the oldest forms of preservation know to man.
George Burns told us, “Drying fresh food - removing only the water - is the easiest, cheapest and healthiest way to preserve fresh food. It's the way nature does it. In other words, a dehydrator mimics the sun, but goes one step better, because often the sun is too hot. Dehydrating actually stops the growth of microbes like bacteria. The circulation of warm, dry air removes the water they depend on to live.
“Drying food only minimally affects its nutritional value. Most research has been on foods that were commercially dried. When you dry foods at home under gentle conditions (correct temperature and a reasonable drying period) you produce a high-quality nutrient-rich food. Food drying is the least damaging form of food preservation.”
What makes dehydrated dog food healthy?
The process can contribute to the health benefits of any food but ultimately, the quality of ingredients are key.
It is their quality alongside the impact of processing, the thermal nature of the ingredients, the acid/alkaline impact and of course how the ingredients are combined in terms of proportions to give a desired analytical array of protein fat, for example, which George says is key to the quality of a food.
He continues, “One could also argue that the potential for excesses and deficiencies are fundamental but these are mainly covered in the analytical outcome.”
With the ultimate goal being a healthy dog food, you have to take all of the above into account when making a dog food and it's only once these basic considerations are factored in that you can then evaluate.
The convenient nature of dehydrated dog food
Modern day pet owners have a growing need for convenience and it's because of this that quality dehydrated foods have come into their own.
He says, “When food is dehydrated very little is lost in terms of its nutritional value. When water is added to rehydrate the food and then fed to the dog two important things are evident.
“Firstly, the natural aspect of food is restored and almost mimics that of home cooked. Secondly, the dog's digestive system is not relying on its own body fluids to assist the digestive process. Dogs will feel much more satisfied with less food, reducing costs but increasing the quality of the food fed along with the nutritional value of each ingredient.”
Transitioning a dog to a dehydrated diet
When changing a dogs diet to another there are a few things to take into consideration, your dog's digestive system and whether they have a sensitive stomach being one. This doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't switch foods, rather it means you may take a more gradual approach extending the transition period by a few extra days.
George gives these top tips to those new to dehydrated foods saying there are a few important aspects that owners need to be aware of when feeding a dehydrated diet.
Make sure the food is given enough water and time to hydrate.
It is very important that the food is covered with sufficient hot water to allow it to rehydrate. The time taken for the hot water to cool is sufficient for this process to take place.
Dehydrated food should never be fed to a dog without proper rehydration. Doing so could result in the food swelling in the stomach which could result in bloating.
Check the food thoroughly before giving it to your dog.
It is very important that owners check that there are no hot spots in the food which could burn the dog's mouth.
Be aware your dog might drink less water (and it's a good thing).
By using dehydrated food and preparing properly, you might find that your dog drinks less water. This is a good thing in that your dog no longer relies on its own body fluids (if they were being fed on dry food before) to help with the digestive process.
The basics of dehydrated dog food
Q. How does the shelf life compare with other types of dog food?
A: The shelf life of dehydrated food is the much the same as other foods because the protein source needs to be preserved with natural preservatives.
Q. What is the biggest myth you've heard about dehydrated dog food?
A: One of the biggest myths about dehydrated food is that the amount of food can be overstated by as much as four times the original weight. While adding water increases the weight this is not a true reflection since the amount, and subsequently, the weight is only a reflection of the amount of water added.
Q. How do the costs of feeding a dehydrated diet compared to wet or dry foods?
A: Since I advocate that dehydrated food be covered with hot water, the weight of the food will increase to about double. This, in turn, means feeding dehydrated is about 30% cheaper than dried food and 50 to 60% cheaper than wet foods.