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Kibble: extruded, baked, semi-dry or cold-pressed? Or rather none?

We received an email asking, "Hi, I have a question about your review. I would like to ask you a question about cold-pressed kibble, which are much better rated than extruded kibble, while the prevailing opinion among breeders is that extrusion and processing will improve the digestibility of certain ingredients, such as legumes. Recently, pressed kibble have even been accused of staying in the gut and causing inflammation because they are less digestible. What is your opinion on this?"

There has been a long-standing battle on the animal kibble market between the proponents of so-called extruded kibble and their alternatives, e.g. in the form of so-called cold-pressed feeds. Arguments are piling up on both sides and the corporate lobbies are working at full speed because it is, of course, first and foremost the business of the individual producers.

A New York Times article named 'The Truth About Dog and Cat Food' says: "All pet foods are made from the waste products of human food production. No matter what the label says, your dog or cat is not getting 'whole fresh chicken breast', but what is left over after processing the chicken breast for human consumption. And it's no wonder that pet foods sold around the world are made primarily by global food companies Nestlé, Purina, Mars and Procter & Gamble. No government body requires evidence of health claims on pet food, and no pet food company is willing to invest in decades of research to find out whether its products keep animals healthier and prolong their lives. Pet food companies claim to conduct research, but it is rarely conducted scientifically, with comparable control and experimental groups."

Today, moreover, the so-called "raw" food is proving to be one of the most popular foods (apart from kibble). At first glance, it is easy to consider these two dietary options as rivals. Yet the subject is a little more complex than "raw food vs. kibble". In fact, if done correctly, the two foods can even complement each other in a balanced diet. A raw diet consists of organ meats and muscles, bones and other parts of the animal. Dogs on a raw diet can also eat raw eggs, some dairy products (e.g. yogurt) and fruits, vegetables and grains that are safe for dogs. Kibble usually consist of grains, protein sources, starches, and fruits and vegetables. They are also artificially supplemented with vitamins and minerals to meet your pet's nutritional needs. Better quality kibble contains more protein than starches, and many brands today are even grain-free.

Are dogs carnivores or omnivores? Wolves, the closest relatives of dogs, are not adapted to digesting grains and would not be able to eat dry kibble alone. But dogs are not wolves. Domestic dogs have been selectively bred for thousands of years. And although dogs don't need starch in their diet, they have genes that allow them to process and utilize grains. Dogs have adapted to be hardy and eat what's left of the human diet. Domestic dogs can therefore feed as omnivores. However, there is a big difference between a survival diet and a diet that benefits the dog in every way. Just because dogs can survive on plants and grains doesn't mean it's best for their health. Many people believe that dogs are occasional carnivores, meaning that their primary source of nutrition is meat, but they can survive without it. So is it better for dogs to eat only meat? What does this mean for your pet? Should you feed them a raw diet, or are kibble more suitable for them?

Like many other carnivorous animals, dogs have sharp teeth that are used to tear meat. Taxonomically, they are classified as carnivores. So that settles the debate? Unfortunately, no. Classification as a carnivore does not always mean that an animal eats an exclusively carnivorous diet. Cats, foxes and bears are all carnivores, but each has very different eating habits. Foxes are not exactly known as picky eaters. They'll eat almost anything, from insects to berries - right down to the contents of your garbage cans. The biggest part of a fox's diet is rubbish, so are foxes omnivores? It's not so clear-cut. North American bears often collect berries or acorns to supplement their diet of meat and fish. And the giant panda is an herbivore - but by choice. Giant pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo, although their digestive system is adapted for meat. This is not ideal. Bamboo is not very nutritious, so they have to eat constantly while limiting physical activity. However, bamboo is what suits them in their environment. The environment an animal is in often has more influence on its diet than its taxonomic classification. The fact that an animal's body is adapted to eat only meat does not necessarily mean that it will feed exclusively on it. With perhaps one exception, cats are exclusive carnivores. Cats need taurine, an amino acid found in meat, to survive. Dogs, on the other hand, can make their own taurine. This could mean that dogs don't need as strict a carnivorous diet as cats do.v

Many people who feed their dogs a raw diet do so because they consider it a more "natural" version of traditional dog food. However, there are no studies that confirm that a raw diet is better than traditional dog food. Owners who feed their dogs or cats a raw diet often claim to see many good changes in their pet. This can range from a shinier coat and more energy to less smelly stools of better consistency. A raw diet appears to be a high-protein, all-natural source of nutrients that is in line with your pet's biology. It may take a little longer to prepare, but the freshness and raw protein make it worth the effort for your canine companion. Plus, isn't that the way our dogs evolved to take in nutrients? "You don't need a lab to create what nature already provides," say raw food advocates. "Dogs have been eating this way for thousands of years, and their bodies require it. And if you doubt us, just watch your dog to see what type of food he chooses. Then you'll stop doubting that they like raw food better."

Like most other things in a competitive market, the "raw food vs. kibble" debate is based on optics. On the one hand, it seems that kibble is a sign of the industrial age. Highly processed and easy to store kibble are presented as a convenient and modern nutritional option. Just open the packet, measure out the puppy's food portion and feed. Of course, kibble aficionados will shower you with plenty of arguments, " kibble are scientifically formulated to meet your dog's needs," they claim. "They reflect the latest trends in dog health, so why deprive your dog of them?"

It's not for nothing that kibble has been a dog owner favorite for decades. The food is convenient. Easy to store and easy to pour into your pet's bowl, no preparation is required. And there is much less risk of spoilage. It's also very affordable and readily available. The kibble recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs and provide a complete healthy diet, such as our Superfood range. Therefore, you will need to check labels to find the right food for your dog!!! Try to avoid a lot of cheap fillers. When feeding kibble to dogs, it's best to remember that not all brands are created equal. Especially since there are some downright scary things happening in the world of commercial kibble...

In the 1990s, trace amounts of phenobarbital, a drug used to euthanize dogs, were discovered in some commercial pet foods in the US. The FDA investigated, but was unable to determine what kind of animal the contaminated meat came from. Even the former president of AAFCO (the organization that determines what should be in pet food) admitted on camera that it is impossible to determine what animals the meat in commercial pet food comes from. Vague names of ingredients such as 'meat' and 'bone meal' can be a cover for the fact that dog meat, for example, has made its way into dog kibble. Does this mean you should avoid all commercial kibble? No. But just because a well-known brand is sold in a well-known store, it doesn't always mean it is trustworthy. That's why we always recommend scanning the product barcode to see what independent reviews the kibble has.

Generally, you can tell a quality brand by looking at the label and seeing all the ingredients. Look for clear protein sources and avoid foods with common allergens such as wheat and corn. Quality kibble will also contain fewer filler ingredients such as rice. Fillers add calories without adding nutritional value. Your dog can do without them.

Extruded kibble

This is the most common type of dry food. It is usually produced by cooking a ground mixture of meat and bone meal and cereal, maize or rice flour at high temperatures (up to 200 °C), pressing it through a press with holes, drying the resulting shape at 170 °C and finally cooling the kibble. At the final stage, they are usually sprayed with a layer of fat or flavouring agents to improve their taste. The advantage is that extruded kibble have the longest shelf life (approximately 1 to 2 years) and are quicker and cheaper to produce than other types. These kibble are also more digestible and destroy parasites in the dog's body. The disadvantage is that extreme temperatures destroy some vitamins and nutrients, which are then supplied artificially.

Extrusion is a food processing process that turns food into so-called ultra-processed food products with documented negative health effects. According to the NOVA global food distribution standard, which is recognised by the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Pan American Health Organisation, the extrusion process is in the worst, fourth category of industrially processed food processes.

The influence and impact of extrusion on nutrients in dry animal feeds is addressed, for example, in the study 'Effect of extrusion processing on nutrients in dry pet food' by a team of authors around Quang Dinh Tran of Vinh University, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, where they conclude: ". .extrusion can have both beneficial and adverse effects on the nutritional quality of the product. The desirable effects of extrusion include mainly the destruction of undesirable nutritional factors and the improvement of digestibility and utilization of protein and starch. The undesirable effects of extrusion include a reduction in protein quality, e.g. due to the Maillard reaction, a reduction in palatability and a loss of vitamins. The effects of extrusion processing on the nutritional value of pet food are well documented. Heat treatment during extrusion cooking can inactivate protein-based nutritional factors by breaking the integrity of their structure, thereby preventing their action. Extrusion can lead to an increase in protein digestibility. Many vitamins are sensitive to physical and chemical treatments. The stability of vitamins depends on their chemical structure and can be reduced by heat, light, oxygen, moisture and minerals. Because vitamins vary widely in chemical structure and composition, their stability during extrusion varies. However, the effects of extrusion have been particularly destructive for B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin E. In pet foods, extrusion cooking has been shown to have a negative effect on vitamin concentrations."

In a later study by the same team of authors entitled 'Effects of drying temperature and time of a canine diet extruded with a 4 or 8mm die on physical and nutritional quality indicators' published in Animal Feed Science Technology (2011), it was stated that "drying time and temperature can alter the nutritional quality of pet food". According to this study, '...the amino acids lysine and proline in 4mm pellets are damaged during thermal extrusion due to the high drying temperature and high extrusion temperatures may increase the concentration of pro-oxidant transition metals, especially iron, due to wear of the metal parts of the extruder' and 'a decrease in most long chain unsaturated fatty acids was observed for 4 and 8mm pellets dried at 200 ◦C'.

This study concludes that "drying can significantly affect the nutrient content of pet foods. At high drying temperatures (160-200◦ C), lysine is damaged, with reactive lysine decreasing faster than total lysine. In this study, no other amino acids were affected by drying temperature, except for proline in 4 mm pellets, which increased at a drying temperature of 200◦C. In addition to amino acids, a decrease in most of the long-chain unsaturated fatty acids was observed in 4 and 8 mm kibble dried at 200 ◦C. Drying of extruded pet foods can affect the nutrient composition especially at high drying temperatures. Drying pet foods at temperatures below 160 ◦C minimizes the negative effects of the drying process on nutrients."

Baked kibble

Made from a mixture of blended dry ingredients, oil and sometimes fresh meat. The resulting dough is rolled out and pushed through a sieve in which holes are made in the desired shape of the kibble. This is followed by baking in a hot oven at 170 °C, drying and cooling. The advantage of this method is that the taste of the raw materials is preserved and the kibble have a higher nutritional value. They are also suitable for dogs with sensitive digestion. The disadvantages are a lower shelf life (in the order of months), a composition adapted to hold the dough together and the fact that some vitamins and substances have to be added at the end. Translated with (free version)

Semi-dry kibble

In addition to a mixture of meat and vegetables, they also contain a lot of water, which gives them more moisture and makes them softer than other types. They are also denser, making them more attractive to dogs, more digestible and can be enjoyed by dogs with eating disorders (allergies, sensitive stomach, poor digestion, sore teeth). Thanks to their semi-soft design, they are also suitable for older dogs. On the other hand, unlike harder kibbles, dogs do not grind their teeth. At the same time, chemical preservatives are added to them to make them last longer and not catch mould. For this reason, they also have a lower shelf life.

One of the alternatives to extruded kibble is so-called semi-dry kibble. The Platinum brand manufacturer's website states, "...our food is made from 70% fresh meat. For example, we process fresh chicken, lamb, boar, rabbit or fresh fish meat (tuna, salmon, sardines). Other easily digestible ingredients such as potatoes or rice or corn are added to the meat. Cold-pressed oils, herbs, minerals and vitamins are also added. All without added water - only in its own juice. Therefore, the maximum nutritional values of all ingredients added to the food are preserved.The cooked meat in its own juice is gradually dried at room temperature. It therefore has a higher moisture content (18% residual moisture) than conventional dog food. This contributes significantly to the rich taste of the food. In conventional complete dog foods, the protein comes mainly from meat and bone meal or from cereals and vegetable by-products. The compound feed is ground or ground into a fine powder and mixed with water. This mass is then further processed in an extruder at high temperatures (150 to 200 °C) and shaped into kibble under high pressure. Each individual granule is usually coated with a layer of starch, which must be digested first in the dog's stomach. The natural composition is designed to ensure that the liver, kidneys and skin are not burdened with ingredients that have no use for the dog, which is why our food is so easy to digest due to its natural, healthy composition that makes intolerances very rare. There is no pressure on the metabolism from impure ingredients that can cause unexplained itching or other skin problems. Also suitable for allergic dogs. Thanks to optimal digestion, dogs do not have wind or diarrhea. Even the "treats" they leave behind are smaller and firmer. High-quality proteins from fresh meat immediately stimulate the formation of new muscle mass. The nutritious, cold-pressed oils in the food and the natural origin of our ingredients take care of your dog's coat." It should be noted that this sign provides a publicly available independent test regarding the very high meat content of the kibble.

Cold-pressed kibble

Pressing is considered to be a gentler but more labour intensive method. Kibble are produced by the gentler method of pressing at temperatures up to 70 °C. Cold pressing does not expose the input food to potentially harmful high temperatures and pressures. This production method ensures that all natural minerals are preserved and remain in their original form. The kibble do not swell.

According to the manufacturer, Yoggies' cold-pressed kibble are "...processed in a gentle way, at temperatures no higher than 39.9°C, which preserves the maximum amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients from high quality raw materials. A temperature not exceeding 39,9 °C is one of the most important production factors for the health of dogs. This process ensures that raw materials processed at this temperature retain their natural nutritional properties, including the natural fat from the meat used, so that no refined fat needs to be added to the kibble."

The 'All About Feed' server reports, "Manufacturers and proponents of cold-pressed (properly pelleted) pellets claim that they are produced by a gentler pressing method, at temperatures up to 70°C. Cold pressing does not expose the input food to potentially harmful high temperatures and pressures. This method of production is designed to ensure that all natural minerals and other BIO active ingredients are preserved and remain in their original form. According to the manufacturers, cold-pressed kibble do not swell in the stomach, i.e. the risk of stomach torsion is minimal. The natural fibre content ensures better digestion and does not reduce the peristalsis of the intestines and the deposition of food residues on their walls. The cold-pressed kibble are not preserved, coloured or flavoured, the fats are natural."

The same source further states: "The hygiene requirements of European legislation require, for the processing of pet food, the heat treatment of the ingredients of animal origin to a temperature of at least 90°C or the use of dried or fermented meat. In order for feed to be compressed into kibble, the mixture must be dry with a high starch content. Therefore, dry raw materials such as meat, poultry and fish meal or dried meat, cereals and potatoes predominate in the production of cold-pressed kibble. At temperatures in excess of 130°C at 3 bar pressure, most meat meals are produced. Cold-pressed kibble containing meat meal are therefore processed at higher temperatures than extruded kibble produced by new technologies. In addition, the vast majority of meat meals contain chemical preservatives which the feed manufacturer is not obliged to declare on the packaging. Only cold-pressed kibble made from dried meat offer the advantages of gentle processing of raw materials at low temperatures. For cold-pressed kibble, the high carbohydrate content is problematic due to the production technology, which reduces protein digestibility by up to 20 %. The high carbohydrate content can lead to obesity and contribute to the development of diabetes. In addition, if some of the carbohydrate components of the food (e.g. maize and other starch-containing raw materials, legumes) are not cooked before pressing, their nutrients are very poorly utilised by the dogs."

In general, they appreciate the taste and texture of raw food much more than kibble. Even if your dog is not picky, a raw diet can have its benefits. By enjoying his food, he will gain psychological benefits that are essential to his development.

As with humans, fiber is an important element in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and gut. Both raw food and premium kibble can contain fibre, but the types of fibre vary. In general, premium kibble contains fiber-enhancing substances such as cellulose, which our dogs' stomachs process more quickly. On the other hand, raw vegetables suitable for dogs contain fibre, which plays a prebiotic role and which triggers the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Simply put, raw food and fibre in kibble offer different solutions to a similar problem.

While the best diets contain vegetables suitable for dogs, most raw diets are based on raw meat. This is good news because raw meat is high in protein - a macronutrient that is crucial for muscle growth and repair. In puppies, these proteins help grow the muscles in the legs and around the heart. In older dogs, maintenance is important and this is where protein excels. After looking at all the facts, it really does seem that the best diet is one that contains a combination of raw food with premium, highly rated kibble.


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