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What is Dry Dog Food?

By Britt Archer
Updated May 17, 2024
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One of the most daunting problems new dog owners face is the overwhelming number of choices they are presented with when preparing for their pet. There are countless types of bedding, accessories, dog treats and toys available. One of the most important, and perhaps the most confusing of these choices, is what type of food is best. Of all the options available, most dog owners find dry dog food to be the easiest and most affordable option.

Dry dog food is a staple of most dogs’ diets, and is often called kibble. Dry dog food is comprised mainly of protein and vegetable matter, although additives such as fat may be used to increase nutritional value and flavor. Dry dog foods may be baked or cooked through a process called extrusion, during which the ingredients are pressurized and exposed to steam or hot water before being allowed to air dry.

Some owners may find the ingredients of dry dog food to be lacking. One of the main complaints of dog owners is that the amount of vegetable matter in some dry dog foods greatly outweighs the amount of animal protein, which is not optimal for a dog's health. These owners may choose to feed their canines homemade dog food or wet food. Some owners consider homemade diets optimal because they know exactly which ingredients are going into their dog's food.

Despite these alternatives, most dog owners still opt to feed their dogs kibble. It is economical, widely available, easy to make and feed, and has a considerably long shelf life. Because dry dog food contains between six and ten percent moisture by volume, it will last for about one year from the date of manufacture. It is best to store dry dog food in a dry place at room temperature. Any temperatures hotter or colder may damage the nutrients included in the kibble.

It is important to speak to a veterinarian before starting a canine on any new diet. A vet will be able to further optimize the diet for a pet's health and unique needs. Pet owners can also seek advice on what ingredients are best to look for, and which ones they should avoid. A veterinarian can also direct dog owners to local sources where the recommended food is available.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon300157 — On Oct 29, 2012

Many would opt for the natural brands of dog food if they were not so expensive.

By wesley91 — On Jan 15, 2011

@dill1971: Your dog sounds like an interesting character! It’s odd that he won’t eat any kind of dog food. It’s not necessarily a problem that he eats cat food. However, dogs and cat have different nutritional needs.

For example, cats cannot live on dog food alone. They have dietary needs that dog food ingredients do not meet. Cats need taurine in their diet to prevent heart problems. However, dogs do not need taurine because their bodies create their own taurine.

Since dogs are born as scavengers (cats are predators), their diet is less stringent. If your dog absolutely will not eat dog food, I would talk to your vet about some kind of vitamin or nutrient supplement.

By dill1971 — On Jan 14, 2011

We have a long-haired Chihuahua. He is one year old. We’ve had him since he was four weeks old. From the beginning, we bought the best dog foods we could find. We went to the pet stores and made sure that the dog food that we bought was nutritious. It ended up being pointless. He will not eat dog food. We have gone from the cheapest to the most expensive. We have tried canned food and he doesn’t even like that.

Here’s the weird part: We also have a cat. When we feed the cat his cat food, our dog will eat it. He loves cat food. Is that a problem? Is it okay for him to stick to a cat food diet?

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