As a pet parent, you probably spend hours researching dog food and agonizing over the best meals to feed your dog. But have you ever considered how your dog’s food is made and whether that may have an impact on your dog’s overall health and the nutrition they’re receiving? We learned all about extruded kibble and how it’s made as well as how it might compare to other methods of making dog food like baking or gently cooking.
So, what is extruded kibble?
Extruded kibble is made when a mixture of raw ingredients is forced through a die that shapes and cooks the food. The cooking process happens using either hot water or steam to quickly cook the kibble. It is then trimmed with a blade into the bite-sized pieces you see in the bag of dog food.
These pieces are puffed out with air and sprayed with a mixture of fats, vitamins, and minerals, and bagged and sealed to protect the oil from becoming rancid.
Some sources report that the extruding process can remove up to 40% of vitamins and minerals from the food, but as long as the label says the food meets or exceeds AAFCO’s standards for a complete and balanced diet for your dog’s life stage, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!
How does extruded kibble compare to kibble that is baked?
While many kibbles are made using the extrusion process, some packages will promote the fact that they are oven-baked. This is exactly what it sounds like, the kibble is cut into the bite-sized pieces you’re used to seeing in your pup’s bag of food and baked.
This is a slower process as the cooking time might take longer and the batches that can fit in the oven are often smaller.
Another difference between extruded and baked kibbles is the density. Baked kibble does not have air forced into it so it doesn’t puff up like its extruded counterparts making it denser. This means less volume your dog will need to eat to get the same nutrition - which may also mean smaller bags as compared to extruded kibbles.
Is extruded kibble bad for dogs?
Generally speaking, no. The thing that pet parents should pay more attention to than just the cooking method is the ingredients that are used to make the food. While some baked foods claim that they are better for dogs, this is not necessarily just because they are baked.
There are also claims that extruded kibble causes bloat because it expands when mixed with gastric juices in the stomach. Whole Dog Joural says, they didn’t find any scientific studies to back up this claim.
If your pup’s diet is made with high quality ingredients and stored correctly (so fats don’t become rancid) you should have no cause for concern just because it is made using an extrusion process instead of oven baked or another method of preparing food.
At Ollie, we focus on fresh cooked meals. Our ingredients are chopped, blended together and gently cooked to keep as much of the nutrition as possible in your pup's meals. We then pack these meals into pouches and freeze them to keep them fresh until your dog is ready to eat.
Unlike extruded or even baked kibble, our fresh food is not crunchy and the texture may more closely resemble ground beef. The soft texture can be especially appealing for older dogs, those who are recovering from surgery or illness, or those who have had teeth removed. Another difference between fresh food and extruded or even baked kibble is that for dogs with decreased appetite the fresh food may have a more appealing smell. Since dog's first "taste" with their noses this may encourage your pup to eat more.
Depending on your dog's needs, you can also mix fresh food and either extruded or baked kibble together to get the best of both worlds. Some people call this topping but your dog might just call it delicious.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.