How is Dry Dog Food Made?
All dog food companies boast about having good-for-your-dog ingredients or they offer foods for certain types of dogs or breeds. However, what most companies don’t usually discuss is how their dry dog food is 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
When you look at all the kibble available at your local pet store or online, odds are they all took a different process to get there. Ultimately, there are two factors you want to focus on for your dry dog food.
- What's in the food
- How it's cooked
What’s in dry dog 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 than federal rules. 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.
Starting with high-quality ingredients is important to producing a high-quality food. Every dog food starts with a recipe of ingredients and 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. Each of these ingredients are included to provide the necessary nutrition and taste to support your dog.
Dry dog food ingredients can also differ for various types of dogs. For example, recipes differ to accommodate different sized dogs, such as a large breed formula or a kibble made specifically for small dogs. Other dry dog foods are made to address special needs such as reduced fat dog foods or food for sensitive dogs. Finally, some dry dog foods adapt their formula to provide the proper support for furry friends at various life stages, such as using ingredients with naturally occurring glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for senior dogs.
It’s also important to note that some pet food companies do not make their own food. Instead, they contract with an outside manufacturer to make and package the product for them. Meanwhile, other companies make their own dry dog food in their own plant.
How dry dog food is 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, similar to Cheerios®.
The extrusion 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. That damage means your dog might not benefit as much as you’d expect from this food because of the particular way it was processed by that dog food company.
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. However, this sprayed-on taste only covers up for a loss in true nutrition and flavor.
While many dog food companies extrude their kibble, Bil-Jac avoids the extruder. We developed our own, more gentle way to prepare dry dog food by slow cooking it in small batches instead. This process involves the following steps.
- We start with 25 lbs. of fresh, high protein 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, which would sacrifice the amount of high quality protein that each dog gets in every meal.
Second, slow cooking certain ingredients, like corn, creates numerous nutritional benefits that a rapid cooking extrusion process can’t offer. Thise slow-cooking process not only helps with digestibility, it also can help provide healthy, available antioxidants and other special dietary benefits.
Third, the lower and slower cooking temperatures help to protect the key nutrients dogs need daily in their diet. Quality ingredients may not be as good after extrusion. Slow cooking helps retain valuable nutrients so that your dog receives full benefits.
Our process takes longer and is made in smaller batches, but it yields a food that is highly nutritious and tastes great. Those 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 more than 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 when we say how much your dog will love the taste of Bil-Jac Dry Dog Food? 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.
Want to learn more about how you can help your favorite, four-legged friend live a long, happy life? Join our Best Friends Club today to receive informative articles, special tips, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac products.