Dog food can be any food intended for the consumption by dogs. Before commercially prepared dog foods were made, dogs ate any leftovers of grains, meats and any other food scraps given by their owners. They also ate anything available in their environment.
Although, owners can still opt for homemade meals or raw food for their dogs, the dog food market has evolved significantly. Today, there are a lot of commercially prepared dog foods and they come in different types and variety.
It was in 1860, when the first processed dog food was introduced by James Spratt, in London. He got the idea when he saw how dogs where eating scraps of biscuits. In the U. S., the production of commercially prepared dog food started in 1890, when he got his patent, known as “Spratt’s Patent Limited”. He started the world’s first large scale manufacture of dog biscuits which made of wheat, vegetables and meat. Other companies also joined in and more dog food products became.
It was in 1907 when F. H. Bennett came up with Milkbone dog biscuits. Together with Spratt’s Dog Food and Cake, Milkbone dominated the pet food market until the first canned food was introduced by Ken-L-Ration in the 1920s. The explosive growth of canned food was seen in the 1930s. This was due to cheap canned horsemeat after the World War I. By 1941, 91% of the dog food market in the US was of canned dog food. The popularity of canned goods was short-lived, though, and by 1946, dry dog food dominated the pet food market again. By 1957 when the production of ‘kibbled’ dog foods began. These were packed in enormous bags and are still being marketed aggressively today.
There are three main types of commercially prepared dog food available in the market nowadays. These are dry or kibble, canned, and semi-moist. Dry or Kibble dog food is the preferred by pet owners for its convenience and price. It can be readily scooped into dog food bowls thus saving time for the dog owner. A blend of grains, meat, fats, minerals and vitamins, it is generally more economical, as once opened, it does not spoil quickly. Canned dog food is the most expensive type although it is also said to be the most nutritious. Aside from having significantly higher protein, minerals and vitamins content, it may have fewer preservatives and is easily digestible. The semi-moist type of dog food can be used as an occasional treat since these are the least nutritional of all dog foods. It contains propylene glycol, a chemical used as the humidicant. This chemical is no longer used in cat food and there are concerns about using it in food for dogs.
Aside from the commercially prepared dog food, there are also other food options. There is growing awareness among dog owners on the need for better food choices for their dogs. Some pet owners believe that home cooked meals are a fresher alternative to the commercially prepared products. Thus, came about the home cooked and raw food options. Home cooked meals allow the owner to have complete control of their dog’s diet and in making sure that the nutritional needs of the pet is provided for. They are freshly made and can use high quality ingredients. A pet owner can also introduce more food variety with a home cooked meal. A raw meal on the other hand, consists of raw meat, with bones and some organs mixed in. It is said that dogs need raw food to boost their immune system since this type of diet is the most ideal and mimics the natural diet of an animal in the wild.