Extruded Pet Food
While the extrusion process was initially used to create puffed cereals, it has become a staple in the pet food industry. Extrusion is an easy and efficient way to create large amounts of nutritious, shelf-stable food. Here’s a brief explanation of the extrusion process:
- Raw and wet ingredients for the food are mixed together to form a dough.
- The dough is pushed through a machine, called the expander, that uses hot water or pressurized steam to cook the dough.
- While under these extremely high temperatures, the food is forced (extruded) through special sized and shaped holes and then trimmed by a knife.
- Once the pieces exit the expander, they puff up to look like the kibble we are used to seeing.
- The kibble is then sprayed with fats, oils, vitamins, and minerals and packaged before the oils can spoil.
The extreme cooking process removes the vitamins and minerals that they have to be added back at the end of the process.
But what’s the alternative?
Oven-Baked Pet Food
Oven-baked pet food is exactly what it sounds like – baked in the oven. Oven cooking is a slower process which is done in small batches.
While the extrusion process leaves the kibble with less than 40% of its vitamins and minerals, baking retains almost 100% of the initial nutrients This means your pet is getting his/her vitamins and minerals from real food. Baking also ensures the protein sources included in the initial recipe survive the cooking process leaving you with a more flavorful, nutrient-dense food.
Benefit of Oven-Baked
Turns out baked kibble weighs about 20% less than the extruded variety. This means that a 25 lb bag of dog food will have approximately 20 more cups if it’s baked than extruded. Since it is also much more nutrient dense, you may end up feeding less overall!