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Do Dogs Like Dog Food?

This is a question all dog owners ask themselves at least once. As your dog can’t speak to you with words, how do you know if they like the food you’ve chosen? How do you know if your dog likes dog food?

Dogs do like dog food, sometimes preferring a particular brand. A dog’s diet can consist of dry kibble, wet canned food, or both fed in rotation or mixed. By attending to your dog’s cues, like not eating for days, you can determine what they do or do not like.

This article will cover information on dry and canned dog food and help you determine why variety is best. We’ll also consider nutrition and how you can determine if they are enjoying dinner.

What Will Your Dog Eat: Wet or Dry?

Dog, Pet, Food, Bowl, Kibble, Paws, Treat, Nap, Sleep
Image by Mat Coulton via Pixabay

Both forms of food, wet and dry, contain the nutrition your dog requires. However, which one is more appetizing? It would be fantastic if your dog could say, “Hey, I love this brand of kibble.” An unrealistic scene, but if you’re paying attention, your dog gives you cues to let you know what they like to eat.

Dogs are omnivores — they eat meat, vegetables, and fruits. When dogs were in the wild, they ate raw meat, an essential protein source. Just because they’ve been domesticated doesn’t mean they no longer need meat as a protein source. To maintain their health, you must feed them food with a high protein content if possible.

Dogs can taste and enjoy the same as humans. They experience bitter, sweet, and sour flavors and have an incredible sense of smell. Although they have approximately a sixth of the taste buds of humans, that doesn’t mean they want to eat bland food. 

Wet food satisfies the most discerning dog with its potent smell and taste with meat and meat-byproducts that look like meat. Dry food satisfies the dog who loves to chew, and it may even help keep their teeth clean. However, most dogs fall in the middle and enjoy both wet and dry food (source). 

Below is a chart showing the advantages and disadvantages of each type of food.

Dry Food AdvantagesDry Food Disadvantages
Easy to measure, making it better to keep weight in check.Kibble contains reduced amounts of fats and is higher in carbohydrates. Active dogs need food with a higher fat-to-carb ratio.
This is brand-specific, so always read the nutrition label. A higher price tag does not necessarily mean better quality.
Kibble helps clean your dog’s teeth.Depending upon the breed, some have difficulty breaking up kibble pieces due to teeth issues or facial shape.
Kibble is easy to store and transport when traveling. It rarely goes bad or rancid if stored properly.
Dry kibble can make your dog thirsty.
Lower manufacturing costs and the ability to buy in bulk helps keep the cost down. 
Good brands can be found in your supermarket.
Prices for premium foods with higher fat content continue to rise and are not always a budget-friendly choice. 
They are also not available at a supermarket but only at premium retailers.
Wet Food AdvantagesWet Food Disadvantages
It has more flavor and looks more like meat.It will only last 1–2 days after it is opened and must be refrigerated.
Higher moisture content is especially beneficial to dogs that don’t drink enough.Once it goes bad or rancid, you must throw it out, which is wasteful and not budget-friendly.
The higher water content will satisfy your dog’s tummy without adding extra calories.Won’t keep teeth clean or massage gums, meaning you’ll need to brush your dog’s teeth.
It has a high protein content suitable for puppies to build muscle and stay active. Older active dogs need the protein to maintain their energy level.High protein and moisture content will often cause stomach upset, especially if transitioning to a wholly canned food diet.

Dog’s rely greatly on their sense of smell and will be attracted to food with the right odor. A combination of both kibble and canned food will satisfy the most finicky eater and combine the benefits of both types.

There are also many human foods, such as bacon, that you can use to add flavor in small proportions, but you should avoid doing so on a regular basis.

What’s in My Dog’s Food?

Whether or not your best friend hankers for dry kibble, one must face facts; dry kibble is the least expensive food to feed your dog by volume. That said, not all kibble is equal — your dog may prefer one over another. Of course, you want to be sure you are giving them the nutrition they need to be healthy.

What Is in My Dog’s Dry Kibble?

Every manufacturer develops their recipe and subsequently passes it on to a third party to manufacture. However, while every recipe is different, there are standards for what the food must contain, regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).  

All kibble must contain a protein source, such as beef or chicken, and eggs, grains, cereals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (source). While many dog food companies believe their food contains all the necessary nutrients, unfortunately, dry kibble loses many essential nutrients through the manufacturing process of extrusion.

Extrusion: How Kibble is Made

Extrusion machines are used to make puffed cereals. They are considered an efficient method for manufacturing and maintaining all the goodness of dry kibble. All the above ingredients are mixed and then pulverized into a dough, which then must be cooked.

During the dough’s cooking process, an expander is used. The food is under extreme pressure and very high heat, much like a pressure cooker. Once cooked, the dough is put through the extruder, which allows it to puff up, and is then pushed through where special knives cut it into the desired shape.

Unfortunately, once the cut dough passes through the drying stage, all moisture is drawn out. Therefore, the vitamins and minerals on the bag are sprayed on the kibble pieces. Manufacturers must also add synthetic taurine, an essential amino acid lost once the meat is dried.

Wet Food: Basic Ingredients and Processing

The ingredients used to produce dog food, in general, are animal or fish byproducts, such as livers and kidneys, not typically used for humans. As with dry food, vitamins, minerals, and fats in the form of oils are added. Water is almost always used as it helps form the food and add texture.

The meat is frozen or fresh when delivered to the factory where machines chop or mince it. Next, grains such as cereal are added and formed into the desired shape, and the mix is canned or bagged. 

Depending on the recipe, water and a thickening agent are added to form gravy or jelly. Additives, such as flavor enhancers, are also added to improve palatability.

It is now time to cook the food in its packaging. First, the packaging is sealed and then subjected to various temperatures, which are carefully controlled to maintain shelf life, taste, and nutritional value (source).

Final Thoughts

Dogs need a balanced diet, including kibble, wet food, and maybe throwing in a good beef hide to gnaw on. Your dog, like you, wants and needs a certain amount of variety. A good rule of thumb is if it smells good, your dog will eat it. 

It may take some trial and error and perhaps a few samples to determine what your dog likes. Whatever you feed them, buy the best your budget allows and consult your vet for advice on nutritional considerations.

Always give them a variety of treats, such as dog biscuits, in moderation. Some chicken leftover from Sunday’s dinner is always well-received. It can’t hurt, and they will lick you forever.


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