"So, dry kibble foods can’t be more than about fifty percent meat? What does that mean for ‘grain free’ foods?”
To be fair, a select few pet food manufacturers have managed to push the limit of just how much meat a kibble can contain before it falls apart from, so to speak, lack of starchy glue.
But what about all the others, especially foods that claim to be ‘grain free’? If a pet food manufacturer says their food has absolutely zero grains, and only half of the food can be meat after processing is complete, then what does the other half consist of?
Most frequently, potato is the substitute ingredient that contains the necessary starches lost when grains are excluded. Sometimes sweet potatoes or tapioca are used, but, whatever it is, some form of starch must be used. So a grain free food is not an all-meat, or even a more-meat, product.
Granted, many of the grain free foods available, including the selections you’ll find at Joey’s, contain more meat (often a lot more) than typical offerings from grocery stores, mass market pet stores, feed stores, etc. But don’t believe that, just because you’re purchasing a dry kibble that says it is grain free, you’re getting a food with the most meat possible.
"Back to so-called ‘processing’: it alters food? But aren’t processed pet foods ideal?”
Okay, so now you know that you need to pay attention to the ingredient panel; that the ingredient panel doesn’t tell the whole story; and that processing (extrusion, baking, etc.) can affect the those ingredients.
Certainly this begs another question: should our pets be eating heavily processed diets at all?
Ideally, dogs (and especially cats) should be eating a variety of whole, fresh, raw (yup I said ‘raw’) foods. Dogs are omnivores with serious carnivorous inclinations, while cats are pure carnivores; thus a processed grain-based dry cereal (100% complete and balanced dry cereal!) isn’t exactly the pinnacle of pet health.
Chronic dehydration in cats fed processed diets
Because cats are true carnivores, they should get as much meat as possible, and the less processed that meat is the better.
Many of you who own cats have probably noticed that they don’t drink water very often. This is because cats are naturally inclined to get most of their water intake from raw meat (remember that chicken that was 70% moisture before kibble processing), and therefore many household cats are chronically dehydrated.
Processed diets wreak havoc on dogs, too
Animal proteins aren’t quite as important to dogs as they are to cats (fresh vegetables, some fruits, etc. are beneficial), but they’re still an integral part of their natural diet.
Nothing has a more complete amino acid profile (see the discussion of cats not getting enough taurine from grain-based foods above) than animal proteins.
But even though dogs don’t need as much meat as cats, they’re still designed to eat the foods they do consume without any processing. What on earth would wolves do if they needed to ‘extrude’ their prey into cute little kibble bites before they could eat?
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