What kind of dry dog food Australia to choose to feed your dog and why?
I believe in a raw diet for my dog, meat/offal/bones, as natural as possible. I don’t believe a lot of grains or carbohydrates are necessary and there are very few scientific papers explaining why a carnivore needs much more than meat. HOWEVER a recent dog nutrition text suggested the value of carb fibre for the health of the intestine.
Particularly in forming harder stools and the ‘moderately fermentable fibres‘ providing a good energy source for a healthy intestine.
This article answers the question of what kind of dry dog food Australia (kibble) a raw feeders chooses to feed their dog and why. Whether you feed your dog kibble, canned food or a raw diet. You may be interested in seeing the dog food trends currently available.
State of the dry dog food Australia kibble /pellet market
If you read any Professional ranking manufactured dog food websites, you will be told they are almost all good. However, raw feeders will mostly tell you to avoid grains and diversify your meats and offal.
My previous articles showed you how you can calculate the actual amount of meat and what type of meat /offal/bones you should feed your dog (PLUS vitamins and essential fatty acids), to get them as healthy as they can be, naturally. This information is based on raw data, and dog nutrition, not any specific ideology.
Typically the cheapest dry food will have grains as the first ingredient, low quality meat as maybe the second or third ingredient and a bunch of artificial vitamins and minerals, to ensure they meet the aafco (USA dog food governing body) standards.
The best of dry foods will have meat as the first and second ingredient (the best protein sources) then some grains, then some plant extracts and some chelated minerals.
This article shows you a nutrient comparison of beef & major grains used in dog food. You will see that beef actually meats almost every aafco protein requirements but grains are massively deficient. As far as protein is concerned grains basically act as a bag filler in kibble. if you were thinking that grains/ kibble naturally have all the required dog vitamins & minerals, then this article will show you the truth.
However even the very high end of the manufactured dog food market is changing.
Premium dry dog foods
The latest trend in the high end dog food is branding and great advertising, super saturation in pet food shops. The big dog food manufacturers have many brands in their stable that usually have one or two super premium (high priced) products at the top.
The high end products have organic meats or vegetables but mostly one or two grain types (cheap for them to source) that make up the vast majority of the bag.
Bucking this trend are the companies who realise the value of meat in a dogs diet and are putting in a lot more than meat their competitors.
EVOpet ” grain free, low carbohydrate dry pet food”
Canidae also make a Grain free range called “Pure X …”
While I have found these ingredients to be heading towards an acceptable direction (meat) they are often quite expensive in Australia.
Main reason for selecting any dry dog food Australia – the Fibre fermentability index.
The science papers say that “best fibre sources for dogs and cats are those that are moderately fermentable and provide adequate levels of short chained fatty acids (SCFA’s) for intestinal mucosa.” Ref 1
If the Fibre fermentablity index is too low the fibre does not ferment enough meaning that it passes straight through the dog and doesn’t provide energy to their intestine. Too high and diahrea can result causing malnutrition.
The middle of the fibre range is occupied by:
Gum Tahla (1.3), Psyllium gum (1.3), Soy hulls(1.4), Rice Bran (1.8), Beet pulp(2.5); Carob bean gum(3.4), Citrus pulp(3.4)
The range goes from about 0 to 7 with the bolded fibres having the ‘optimum value’ of fermentability.
A raw meat feeders dry dog food requirements
The old school reasoning of true raw feeding (no carbs) is to use the meat/ offal/ bones ratio of 80:10:10. This is very simplistic and doesn’t account for the specific nutrition of each actual meat component.
In my modified raw diet (to allow for fibre) I only use a maximum of 20% dry weight energy requirement from kibble. This means that 80% of my dogs diet will be meat / offal and bones. The fibre from kibble is usually sufficient to harden his stools and provide an energy source for the cells walls of his intestine.
I am only feeding dry dog food (kibble) to add a sufficient amount of fibre. Getting the right kind of fibre (moderately fermentable) in an easily digestible form by itself is tricky.
Usually getting a dog to eat grains that a dog would find in an open field would be nearly impossible. Dog food Manufactures solve this by crushing the grains, cooking them at high temperature, adding sugars from other carbs and then topping it with a spray of tasty oil.
However since my addition of dry food is mainly to add fibre with the right fermentability for my dog’s intestine, I look at getting a fibre source in the ranges shown above. The Advance brand dog food has ‘beet pulp’ in it, which is close to the ideal source of fibre, but a local supplier told me that as beet pulp is not grown in Australia you can only get it from overseas products that tend to have inflated prices because of transport and advertising costs.
How Dried Meat dog treats super size your dog’s nutrition
In previous articles about commercial dog food (carb based) or raw feeders (meat based), I have suggested that for commercial dog food feeders, that sticking with what you know is the easiest initial path for your dogs digestion. So the 97% of dogs feed grain, will have beef or chicken as a side dish, so its easiest to boost their meat intake (protein) without stomach upsets, with Beef jerky and Chicken Breast fillets.
Whilst this is true, the raw feeder and unbiased raw feeder knows the best dog nutrition is served by adding as much meat protein variety as you can to your dogs diet. So in Australia for availability and affordability, and organic/ low fat options, this generally means adding Kangaroo or Fish 100% dog treats. This form adds some chewing, and often the whole least processed forms for your dog’s ultimate nutrition.
For Kangaroo that can mean Roo Jerky, roo jerky long, roo cartilage or Kangaroo tendons.
We have many varieties of fish, some of the most popular are HOKI, Flake, Sardine, Green Lipped mussels.
For the full options in either of these dog treat categories, please view the FULL categories of Kangaroo Bulk treats or Fish Dog treats.
What are the best Meat types to buy in kibble?
Meats have quite different protein profiles and vitamin and mineral content. This will affect the vitamins and minerals you will need to add to make your raw diet ‘balanced and complete’.
For instance most red meats have a much higher iron count than white meats. I use the meat data tables off trusted internet sources to confirm what each component of the diet is contributing, Of course you can only do this with meats and other natural foods as kibble manufacturers never provide this level of detail. All their packs will tell you is the ingredient list (not proportions) and that they meet the affco requirements.
If you feed your dog the basic kibble it will most likely have chicken or beef in it. A cheap easy to source meat. That is a great start for a dog diet, but only as a base.
The best health for a dog will be created by providing as wide a diversity of meats as possible, just like they would catch in the wild.
I can easily buy beef, chicken, pork and lamb from my local butcher so I buy kibble that has another meat type in it.
Super premium dog food kibble
These are the rarefied brands that often offer organic, grain free with many unique carbohydrate sources.
In an attempt to get rich, educated people (who don’t know about dog nutrition) to buy their products, dog food manufacturers, use exotic meats and many exotic carbohydrates in the mix. If it sounds exciting to a human, then surely a dog will like it? That is just good marketing.
Some examples of these products:
k9natural Lamb: Example: K9 Natural is made with meat (derived from grass-fed, ranch raised animals), bone, blood, tripe, liver, heart and kidney plus vegetables, fruit, egg, green lipped mussel and garlic.
Interestingly the ‘dogfoodadvisor’ site says that out of five of these freeze dried meat packs, that three score 5 stars (out of five) and the other two score only 2 stars.
ziwipeak the site says that it is as “close as it comes to a raw, natural, wild diet, without freezing and thawing. So it’s made for your lifestyle as much as your pet’s. We use no preservatives, fillers or grains. Nothing artificial. Just real meat, heart, liver, kidney, cold-washed green tripe and bone, hoki fish and green-lipped mussels, with selected vitamins and minerals”
Again this product sounds pretty good. But carries a high price. And again, why go 90% towards the way of feeding your dog a meat diet, but still buy kibble? It is clear that some dog food manufacturers are becoming honest with the need dogs have for a meat diet, but of course they still want you to pay the middle man.
The difference between a person buying kibble as the main food and a raw feeder buying kibble is that a kibble feeder ideally should buy the dry dog food that has the highest amount of quality meats and offal. Whereas a raw feeder is looking to select kibble that will replace 20% of the dog’s energy intake at most, and they are concentrating on having a different meat source and the best fibre.
MY Current kibble (dry dog food) selection criteria
As a raw meat and offal/ bones supplement I am after:
• A meat that is different from the usual meats I can access
• Has the right type of fibre
• Has other ‘interesting carbs’ for specific reasons (always given on the websites)
• I dont need sources of Omega 3 or 6, as I am supplying my own – they cant add fish oil in a dry packet, and improper storage makes the poor omega 3 source, flax seeds, deteriorate.
• Is made in Australia (quality ingredients, lower added costs)
Dry dog food cost: Normally I would also put in a dot point about ‘affordability’. However this really a mute point. For my 20kg dog I need to only feed him about 500g of meat and offal to provide his nutrition and energy needs. If I buy beef from my local market, it is usually about $7 per kilo. Chicken meat and offal is usually more expensive but max out at $8-9 per kilo for an average meal. That means my dog is being fed for about $4 per day, about the cost of a cup of coffee.
Even if I buy super premium dog foods in 3 kg packs I am only paying abut $10 per kilo. The NSW government websites says that feed wheat is currently at about 22 cents per kilo. If your kibble pack is 80% grains can you work out why you are paying $10 per kilo?
But that said, the dry weight equivalent of kibble that my dog would need is still around 200g meaning $2 per meal. So even though there is a massive mark up on most dry dog food ingredients (80% grain) even premium kibble is often only around half the cost of real dog food (meat and offal)
BUT as you can see, both real meat and kibble are actually pretty affordable.
The local pet store says there is currently an Australian Dog Food Revolution.
In theory the quality of Australia’s meats are the best in the world, and should be as cheap and safe as you can get from anywhere, so the kibble with lower transportation costs is also going to be cheaper than equivalent imported brands. That is why I was recommended to consider Australian Kibble premium dry dog food. Under consideration:
Blackhawk: This company is based in Victoria Australia. They only have three products in their dry dog food range: Lamb and rice, chicken and rice, fish and potato.
The chicken and the lamb products have Ground Brown Rice as their second ingredient, that should provide Rice Bran – one of the ideal fermentable fibres!
I am currently using the fish and potato product. The first few ingredients (highest volume) are: Anchovy & Ocean Fish Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potato, Ground Whole Brown Rice.
Potato is often used in exclusion diets (in testing dog allergies because it is most likely not going to have been eaten before and is considered a low allergy risk). The fish is something that I do not normally feed my dog, and the ground whole brown rice provides the rice bran, the ideal fermentability. Next time I will probably buy the lamb and rice, since cheap lamb meat in Australia tends to be very fatty, so I tend not to feed my dog a lot of raw lamb.
Mealsformutts is another Victorian made brand. They provide a grain free option (Duck & Turkey– first ingredients: Duck & Turkey meat, sweet potato, red lentils, seasonal vegetables, peas, alfalfa, natural fats and oils. And a Kangaroo and Lamb option. First few ingredients: Kangaroo & lamb meat, ground brown rice, seasonal vegetables, peas.
The reason I would not feed my dog the duck and turkey meal is that my dog already gets duck jerky healthy dog treats (from this site) and the fibre sources are low on the fermentablity index. The kangaroo and lamb option could be viable, however I also feed my dog a reasonable amount of kangaroo product via healthy dog treats: kangaroo jerky, roo sticks and kangaroo tendon. The use of ground brown rice (as far as fibre goes) is good.
I don’t endorse or benefit in any way from any of the dry dog foods (kibble or pellets) I have mentioned in this article. I do sell healthy dog treats (the reason for this site).
I have discussed and analysed the requirements of dry dog food kibble for a raw meat diet as well as what a person exclusively feeding their dogs manufactured dog food should consider. I am sure you can find other brands and products that meet these requirements.
The price of the two Australian dog food brands I discussed is around $10 per kilo at my local pet food store (if you buy in 3 Kg bags). The feeding guide on the back of the blackhawk pack says for a 20-25kg dog they need 200-250g. For my 20kg dog, 200g of kibble would cost approximately $2 per day. At 20% of my dogs diet the cost of the kibble supplement is only 40 cents per day.
On a raw diet (meat plus offal plus bone) the main component is usually beef or chicken. The roast beef I get from a discount butcher usually costs about $6 to $7 per kilo. The offal can cost up to $8 a kilo (heart, kidney, tripe) The wet weight of the meat component required for nutrition and energy for my dog is about 500g so the cost of meat and offal component (excluding a vitamin tablet and omega 3 and 6 oils) would be near $4 per day.
If you buy more exotic meats (rabbit) or chicken breast (organic) then a raw diet cost can be relatively expensive, particularly if you own several big dogs. But I would like you to consider the vet costs involved by feeding your dog an unnatural product for most of its life (carbohydrates).
I still regularly hear the old omnivore argument by people pushing kibble (wild dogs eat the contents of the prey stomach), But if you consider what the total weight percentage of the crushed green whole partially digested grains would be in that animal (5% or less) then you would soon realise that a wild dog, and a domestic dog (only 20,000 years of evolution) still needs meat as a major component of its diet. The stomach contents are incidental and sitting in a tasty stomach juice soup, they are not the target – and so the dog did not evolved to process the carbs.
With the trend towards the super premium brands making very high meat products it suggests to me that people are realising that there isn’t much that can be better than real, raw meat. Freezing and defrosting affects nutrient quality far less than manufacturing processes that cook, and store meat in the form of kibble.
People usually buy kibble for their dog because it is convenient, the advertising is great, and pet stores sell the products. I am actually ‘betraying’ raw feeders by using any kibble at all, but in the absence of my dog eating the whole of the animal (hooves, claws, head, beaks and feet) providing a replacement fibre source does make a lot of sense.
As a side note, you will be told by some authorities to start your dog on a manufactured dog food diet from birth, (unlike they would in nature). However several studies have shown that buy limiting your puppy’s diet (especially to grain) you will limit the types of foods that appeal to it (even meats) later in life. That means your dog may show a preference to kibble and grains for life, because you fed them it, not because it is natural.
By the way, I changed my dog over from a kibble diet in his first year to a ‘complete and balanced’ raw meat diet, and he is doing fine. The only difficulty I have now is that even with the super premium dry dog foods, kibble is always the thing that is eaten last or usually left in the bowl all together – he is a poodle cross, not a lab. I usually throw out more kibble than my dog eats. Even if I don’t feed him anything else in the morning after a big off lead run, he can avoid kibble all day long. I trust my raw fed dog’s senses.
If you are changing your dog’s diet. please consider consulting your vet, and take the transition slowly at least over a week.
Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please refer to the article as a reference and provide a link to www.healthydogtreats.com.au
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Canine and Feline Nutrition, Case et al Third edition