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Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers

Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers come with a commitment to deliver nutritional adequacy, consistency, quality and safety. There are a wide variety of recipes, varieties and textures to choose from, and they are convenient to use. This is why most pet owners in Australia feed commercially prepared pet foods as a major part of their pet’s diet. Prepared pet foods are an enormously popular and appropriate way to feed dogs and cats. Pet owners recognise and celebrate that pets are individuals and owners generally decide on what foods meet their particular circumstances. Owners consider the likes and dislikes of the pet and their own view regarding convenience, cost and variety of food provided to the pets. There is no single ‘right’ way to feed pets, as long as the nutritional needs of the dog or cat are being met.

Why are prepared pet foods so popular?

  • Balanced nutrition
  • Convenient
  • Cost effective
  • Safe
  • Consistent
  • Variety
  • Pet satisfaction

What do prepared pet foods offer?

  • They can provide the correct amount, balance and availability of nutrients to sustain physical and mental health and activity.
  • Sufficiently concentrated to allow the animal to meet its requirements by consuming the food offered.
  • Tastiness (palatability) to ensure the food is eagerly consumed, since an uneaten meal has no nutritional value. Palatability of the food is important as feeding time should be a rewarding experience for both the owner and the pet and reinforces the bond between a dog or cat and its owner.

A balanced diet

Just like their owners, dogs and cats need a balanced diet that contains just the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate and essential vitamins and minerals to help ensure that they remain healthy. Essential nutrients are those that cannot be made by the body and have to be obtained through the diet. The essential nutrients that pets require are different to our own and must be present, not only in the correct amounts, but also in some cases in the correct proportion to each other to provide a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. Like people, a pet’s requirements for these nutrients varies throughout life and are determined by factors such as age, whether the pet is active or sedentary, the state of the pet’s health, reproduction, and environmental conditions. In meeting the particular needs of an individual pet, the owner must provide the required amount and correct balance of energy and essential nutrients in a quantity of food the pet will happily consume. Since animals eat to meet their energy needs, all essential nutrients should be present in the correct amounts relative to the energy (joules or calories) in a complete and balanced food. Prepared pet foods that are complete and balanced will have a statement on their label.

Choosing the right food for your pet

The choice of food type for pet dogs and cats is very much a personal matter. While various factors are involved in this choice, the main points to consider are:

  • Owner preference for a type of feeding (e.g. canned, dry, chilled or any combinations of these options).
  • The feeding habits of the pet, fussy feeders may prefer canned, dog roll or pouch type foods, over some dry foods.
  • Lifestyle, economic considerations and convenience.

Commercially prepared pet food

Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers come with a reassurance of nutritional adequacy. Selecting nutritionally complete foods means that these foods have been developed to provide a balanced diet. These foods provide all the animal’s requirements for energy, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.

Members of the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) are committed to delivering quality foods that conform to the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and marketing of pet food AS5812, providing additional assurance of quality to discerning pet owners.

It is not surprising that millions of Australian dogs and cats are fed commercially prepared pet foods made by members of the PFIAA. Happily, owners can mix and match wet and dry foods which are nutritionally complete and balanced to provide exactly the preferred mix for their pet, comfortable in the knowledge that they are providing complete nutrition for their family member.

Home-prepared foods

Some owners like to prepare at least some of their pet’s meals themselves. As dogs and cats have different nutritional needs to people, home prepared pet feeding requires a thorough understanding of the specific nutritional needs of the cat or dog, the nutritive value of different food types, dietary interactions and methods of preparation and storage which may affect individual nutrients. While it is certainly possible, in depth knowledge of pet health, pet nutrition and food preparation are needed. Consultation with a veterinary nutritionist is always recommended to ensure the home prepared diet fed to your pet is consistent, safe and nutritionally adequate. A diet of fresh meat alone is not suitable for any dog or cat. Whatever diet you choose for your cat or dog, make sure that they always have plenty of clean water available. Keep an eye on the amount of water they drink. Pets that are persistently thirsty may be unwell and need prompt veterinary attention. Give pets their own clean bowls for food and water – wash them after use and keep separate from the family’s crockery.

Types of Pet Foods

Chilled/fresh pet food

Refers to pet foods that have undergone low levels of processing or cooking and therefore must be stored in a chilled environment to retain freshness, even when sealed. Chilled/fresh pet foods will have a much shorter shelf life compared to their shelf stable counterparts. Examples include pet mince, dog food rolls and meat balls.

Dry food

Usually refers to dry kibble that has been cooked through the process of extrusion. This involves mixing dry ingredients with water and steam to form a dough and then passing the mixture through a die plate at high temperatures to form the kibble shape. The kibble then passes through a dryer to achieve a moisture content of approximately 10% or less, and is cooled and coated with oils to enhance the flavour.

Retorted pet food

Refers to pet food that has been cooked after the blend of ingredients has been sealed in its container or packaging. During this process, the food is heated to achieve sterilisation within the container. Retorted/wet pet food contains a much higher moisture content when compared to their dry counterparts. Examples include canned pet food, pouches or trays, soups, broths, purees and pastes.

Cold Pressed Food

A similar process to extrusion of dry pet food, whereby dry ingredients are mixed with water to form a dough and then “cold pressed” to form a pellet. This method using much lower temperatures to extrusion and does not involve the addition of steam to expand the dough.

Gently Baked Food

An alternative dry pet food cooking method to extrusion, whereby the mixture is passed through an oven along a conveyor belt, baked and cut into shapes.

Air Dried

Refers to the process whereby fresh/raw ingredients are mixed and exposed to a current of heated air to remove water from the mixture through evaporation. Some air-dried foods are therefore able to be rehydrated with the addition of water to the feed.

Freeze Dried

Refers to pet food that is created by first freezing and then applying heat to the mixture to remove the moisture content. As with air-dried pet food, some freeze-dried diets may also be rehydratable with the addition of water before feeding.

Feeding guides and recommendations

General recommendations are usually provided ‘on pack’ for feeding pets at various life stages, although these are usually aimed at the “average” dog or cat. These recommendations are intended as a guide only to obtain an approximate estimate of a pet’s nutritional needs. As dogs and cats vary significantly in their size, activity level and the environment in which they live, the owner in consultation with their veterinarian is best placed to decide whether to feed more or less, and what kind of food is best suited to their pet’s needs.

Complementary Pet Foods

PFIAA represents members which manufacture and distribute not only complete and balanced pet foods, but foods commonly recognised as ‘complementary’.

The composition of these foods means that they are insufficient as a sole contributor to the pet’s daily ration. Complementary foods are not complete. They may or may not contribute significantly to the energy content of the daily ration, but must always be fed in combination with other foods to deliver complete and balanced nutrition.

Complementary foods take a variety of roles and may be marketed as:

• Products intended to be mixed with other food: (mixers, toppers, supplements, etc)
• Treats, snacks, rewards or chews

Most often, complementary pet foods are recognised as treats.

Feeding Complementary Pet Foods

As complementary foods are variable in composition and not complete and balanced, clear feeding instructions should be given either on pack, or at point-of-purchase. These instructions should give recommendations on how not to overfeed, and guidance on the supervision of pets who consume them, where relevant.

Example feeding recommendations for a pet treat:

Xxxxx is a complementary food, to be used as a reward or training aid, to accompany a healthy, complete and balanced diet.
This treat should comprise no more than 10% of your pet’s daily energy requirement, and fed according to the below feeding guide.

Always ensure your pet has access to fresh, clean water, and is supervised when fed this treat.
Recommended treats/day:

SIZE/WEIGHT OF DOG NUMBER OF TREATS PER DAY
Xxx figures here dependent on xxX
Xxx caloric or energy density of the treat xxX
Xxx calculated to deliver up to 10% xxX
Xxx of daily energy requirements xxX

Conclusion

In summary, prepared pet foods made by member organisations of the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia offer a wide variety of quality foods to deliver all the important aspects of a balanced diet: nutrition, palatability, value, easily digested, safety and convenience. They also offer variety while maintaining consistency of feeding, making prepared pet foods an ideal way to feed your pet.

This information is provided by the PFIAA as general information only. For advice and information concerning treatment and feeding your individual pet, we recommend that you seek the advice of your veterinarian.

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