How Is Canine Meals Made? Ingredient Sourcing to Packaging!

Fashionable canine homeowners typically contemplate pups relations and care deeply concerning the meals they serve them. This not solely contains issues just like the meals’s taste and the substances used but additionally the manufacturing course of as an entire. 

We’ll assist you perceive how pet food is made and clarify associated points beneath. 

Key Takeaways: How Is Canine Meals Made?

  • It is vital for canine homeowners to know the fundamental methods through which producers make pet food. This is not going to solely assist make you a extra knowledgeable proprietor, however it may well additionally assist you distinguish reality from fiction.
  • Several types of pet food are made in several methods. For instance, the tactic by which canned canine meals are made differs from the best way kibble or fresh-frozen pet food are made.
  • Most homeowners will most likely discover that fresh-frozen pet food is manufactured in essentially the most acquainted method. Against this, the strategies used to make kibble, moist meals, or semi-moist pet food are fairly totally different than those used to make human meals.

Totally different Sorts of Canine Meals Are Made in Totally different Methods

Pet food is available in many varieties, from dry kibble to canned meat in a sauce. You possibly can even discover up to date takes on canine delicacies, like freeze-dried patties, fresh-frozen pet food, and semi-moist packets for comfort. 

Every type is ready in another way, from distinctive cooking strategies to added preservatives to increase shelf life.

We’ll cowl the method of creating the next pet food varieties beneath (you possibly can click on on any of the choices beneath to leap all the way down to the corresponding part):

Now let’s dig in!

Pet Meals Regulation: Guidelines of the Highway in Making Canine Meals

dog food regulations

To grasp making pet food solely, you need to know the foundations surrounding the observe.

In contrast to many different nations, pet meals is closely regulated in the USA at a federal and state degree to make sure animal security and client safety. 

The Meals & Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines about pet meals, requiring it to be:

  • Secure for animals to eat
  • Made in sanitary circumstances
  • Freed from harmful substances
  • Labeled honestly

As well as, 2011’s Meals Security Modernization Act requires pet meals producers to:

  • Have and observe a meals security plan, together with hazard evaluation and preventative controls
  • Be registered as animal meals services
  • Adjust to up-to-date good manufacturing practices to make sure meals security

Many states observe the Affiliation of American Feed Management Officers (AAFCO) requirements. 

AACFO is a nonprofit physique that crafts nutrient profiles for pets to make sure balanced, full vitamin and likewise advocates for pet meals transparency, requiring packages to show the:

  • Meals’s title: Meals have to be recognized with no ambiguity.
  • Species the product is for: Is it for canine, cats, each, or one other animal?
  • Amount of the bundle: The burden or quantity of the product have to be famous for customers.
  • Assured evaluation of vitamins: The proportion of vitamins per serving have to be acknowledged.
  • Ingredient listing: Elements have to be recognized appropriately and ordered by their proportion of weight within the recipe from highest to lowest.
  • Nutrient adequacy assertion: Is the meals “full and balanced” for use as a main meals, or is it meant for use as a deal with or complement?
  • Feeding instructions: How a lot meals is required per animal by weight? 
  • Producer’s data: The title and deal with of the producer have to be listed, whether or not the model produces the meals or outsources preparation to a second social gathering.
  • Relevant Conditional necessities: An instance could be if a meals is labeled as “mild” or for “weight upkeep,” it should present the caloric data to again up the declare.

Recipe Creation & Ingredient Sourcing: Common Steps in Making Any Canine Meals

dog food ingredient sourcing

USA-based pet meals producers should observe a strict recipe for every product to make sure compliance with AAFCO nutrient profiles. Some recipes are developed by veterinarians, whereas animal nutritionists formulate others. 

Usually, the most effective meals are crafted with the assistance of a devoted nutritionist. 

With sourcing substances, an moral pet meals producer will solely purchase from trusted suppliers, typically requiring them to acquire provider approval by way of security testing and web site inspection. Many pet meals makers persist with U.S.-based suppliers, however some supply substances internationally, particularly for nutritional vitamins and minerals which can be laborious to supply from the U.S. 

Not all internationally-sourced substances are dangerous, however it’s greatest solely to make use of merchandise sourced from western nations to make sure security. In addition they have strict high quality management legal guidelines for meals gadgets that different nations lack.

What Are Meat Meals and Meat By-Merchandise? Are They Secure?

meat meals and byproducts

Should you verify a pet food’s ingredient listing, you might even see “beef meal” or “beef by-products” as an alternative of a complete protein like “beef.” There’s a lot villainization of those proteins, however are they actually that dangerous?

To search out out, you need to perceive what they’re.

Meat meals are made via rendering, a course of that happens after muscle meat has been cooked. The leftover parts (other than blood, hair, hooves, and abdomen contents) are heated till they type a powder, creating the protein-dense “meal.” 

Meat meal might sound stomach-churning, however it’s a suitable type of protein in pet food so long as it’s labeled, as thriller meat is one thing we’d all prefer to keep away from. An instance could be “beef meal” as an alternative of “meat meal.”

By-products are one other widespread protein supply. These are the substances left after an animal is processed for muscle meat, like organs, bones, and tissues, in addition to blood and heads. 

These aren’t essentially the most savory menu merchandise to people, however by-products aren’t one thing to keep away from solely in your canine’s meals. They shouldn’t be the one supply of protein in your canine’s meals, however they’re not “dangerous.”

Simply you should definitely persist with by-products which can be correctly labelled. They need to, for instance, be labeled as “hen by-products” as an alternative of a generic “animal by-products.”

How Dry Canine Meals (Kibble) Is Made


Kibble is the most well-liked sort of pet food within the developed world as a result of its low price and comfort, however how do these crunchy little bits come to be?

Extrusion, that’s how.

The phrase isn’t nice on the ear, however it’s a typical course of additionally used to provide human meals like pasta and breakfast cereal. It permits producers to create mass portions of a meals merchandise shortly.

Extrusion includes combining a pet food’s substances and grinding them right into a high quality texture. The ensuing product is then heated and fed right into a machine that cuts the dough into kibble-sized items. 

how kibble is made

The kibblets are reheated and pressurized to take away moisture, preserving them and creating an extended shelf life.

The dry nature and excessive starch content material of the kibblets give dry pet food its trademark crunch.

The excessive temperatures and strain of the extrusion course of are laborious on substances and have an effect on taste and – in some circumstances – dietary content material.

This could typically depart the kibblets fairly bland and missing, so that they’re typically coated with tasty (and nutritious) animal fat and vitamin and mineral mixtures afterward that the nice and cozy morsels take up. 

Some producers may also add synthetic flavors or colours to make the meals extra interesting earlier than packaging and transport the product.

Extrusion is tremendous environment friendly, letting producers make mass portions of kibble per batch.

It’s additionally extra inexpensive than different cooking strategies, because it’s primarily finished by way of equipment and extends the shelf lifetime of merchandise for transport, sale, and time in your pantry at house.

Whereas handy, the cruel nature of dry pet food’s extrusion course of has led some pet mother and father to hunt pet food made with gentler cooking strategies, which we’ll dig into extra beneath.

In search of a novel twist on dry pet food?

Just like the idea of kibble however not into the excessive warmth of ordinary extrusion?

Take a look at Spot & Tango’s Unkibble, a contemporary tackle kibble utilizing low-heat drying strategies for crafting the crunchy, shelf-stable meals your canine craves with out impacting style or vitamins.

How Canned/Moist Canine Meals Is Made

canned dog food

Canned meals or “moist pet food” is made a lot in another way than its crunchy counterpart, although it additionally begins with its substances being mixed in a mixer

The feel will differ by product, as some canned choices are a gravy-rich chunky stew whereas others are a pate-style meat mash.

As soon as completely blended, the meals is piped into its closing container, whether or not it’s a plastic tray, aluminum can, or pouch. The container is then sealed and cooked for a delegated time at a set temperature to make sure all micro organism, viruses, and mildew inside are killed to forestall sickening folks or animals.

After the cooking course of concludes, meals is appropriately labeled and shipped out on the market.

How Semi-Moist Canine Meals Is Made

Semi-moist pet food is a midpoint between dry, crunchy kibble and canned moist meals, containing a moisture content material of between 60 and 65 % by weight.

It has a treat-like look of moist nuggets or shredded fibers, which canine often discover tremendous palatable and simple to eat. 

Semi-moist pet food is made equally to dry kibble, however as an alternative of being cooked at excessive temperatures and pressurized, it’s baked at decrease temperatures to protect moisture, taste, and vitamins

It’s then portioned and sealed into particular person baggies for freshness, along with your bought product sometimes being a field filled with baggies as an alternative of a big bag of meals it’s worthwhile to measure out.

Semi-moist pet food isn’t really useful for many canine, because it’s greater in sugar and salt than different choices. It typically lacks complete proteins, too, and often has substances that may be problematic to delicate methods, together with synthetic colours and flavors. 

But when your doggo has bother chewing, wants fast, handy eats on a visit, or has a mega choosy palate, semi-moist pet food works high quality if it meets the AAFCO requirements on your canine’s life stage and doesn’t trouble his stomach.

How Recent-Frozen Canine Meals Is Made

make fresh dog food

Recent-frozen pet food is comparatively new in the marketplace and extra gently ready than kibble or canned pet food. Due to this, you possibly can often establish the substances at a look when serving the meals to your pup, because it’s sometimes a meaty mixture of protein, produce, and grain. 

The feel and style are additionally higher than most different canine meals, making it a good selection for choosy pupperinos.

Recent-frozen pet food typically options human-grade substances and is usually customizable to your canine’s wants.

Nevertheless, these puptastic perks come at a price, as fresh-frozen pet food is without doubt one of the most costly forms of canine delicacies

Most fresh-frozen meals is made in small batches, with some manufacturers cooking substances individually whereas others prep a mixture of substances without delay.

Recent-frozen meals is not uncooked and is cooked in any of a number of methods, relying on the model, with strategies together with:

  • Steamed: Elements are cooked utilizing steam, successfully heating them to protected temperatures with out damaging style or vitamins as a lot as excessive warmth might.
  • Sous vide: Elements are positioned in a plastic or glass container and submerged in water for cooking at decrease temperatures to attain meals security whereas preserving taste and vitamin.

As soon as cooked via, the meals is flash-frozen, a method utilizing a circulation of frigid air to shortly freeze meals with out giving moisture inside the possibility to create giant ice crystals. This ensures the contents gained’t be a watery mess when thawed. They’re then shipped out to a retailer or on to your door.

The packaging of fresh-frozen meals varies by producer. Some promote them in loaf type for a cut-and-serve design or bagged for scooping and serving, whereas others are specifically pre-portioned to your canine’s wants. 

Recent-food choices require refrigeration and have a shorter shelf life than conventional choices, making them much less handy. 

Wish to study extra about contemporary pet food manufacturers?

Take a look at our head-to-head comparability of the highest choices, Ollie, Farmer’s Canine, and Nom Nom, detailing who formulates recipes, the place the meals are made, pricing, and extra.

How Freeze-Dried Canine Meals Is Made 

how freeze dried food is made

Freeze-dried pet food is a crunchy various to kibble that’s lighter in weight and extra moveable. However this stuff come at a price – actually, as freeze-dried meals are sometimes fairly dear. 

Freeze-dried meals even have an extended shelf life and don’t require refrigeration, making them good selections for feeding on the go.

Some freeze-dried canine meals use uncooked meat as an ingredient, whereas others use patties or nuggets of cooked proteins mixed with greens.

To freeze dry meals, producers:

  • Freeze substances to transform a contemporary meals’s water content material to ice
  • Place frozen substances in vacuum equipment to show the ice immediately into vapor, ensuing within the removing of about 95% of the water initially current

Freeze drying is carried out at tremendous low temperatures, preserving the style, look, and vitamins of meals higher than different types of processing. These low temperatures additionally prolong shelf life greater than different strategies by “freezing” potential microbiological exercise. Nevertheless, some might survive, so all the time fastidiously deal with freeze-dried meals, particularly if the product was processed uncooked. 

Freeze-dried meals has a wierd, Styrofoam-like texture that some canine dislike. Including a little bit of water makes it extra palatable however may be messy.

How Dehydrated/Air-Dried Canine Meals Is Made

dehydrated dog food

Dehydrated or air-dried pet food is ready utilizing a method that falls between the acute warmth of kibble processing and the acute chilly of freeze-dried pet food. It makes use of a gentle stream of low warmth for an prolonged interval to take away the water present in substances by way of evaporation. This dramatically improves shelf life and reduces the substances’ weight.

To serve, simply add water in accordance with the producer’s directions (some dehydrated meals can be served as-is, simply you should definitely supply them with loads of water).

Like freeze-drying, some micro organism can survive dehydration, so all the time observe correct dealing with of dehydrated pet food to keep away from contaminating surfaces of your private home, together with washing your fingers after serving and cleansing your pup’s bowl after feedings.

Dehydrated pet food is a strong decide for homeowners who battle to lug round heavy kibble baggage and for choosy canines or these with dental points that may’t chew kibble. It’s costly, nonetheless, and may be messy.

How Uncooked Canine Meals Is Made

raw dog food

Because the title implies, uncooked pet food isn’t cooked like different pet food varieties. Usually, it comprises an animal’s organs, bones, and muscle meat, as nicely secondary substances like greens or uncooked eggs for some preparation kinds. Frequent proteins utilized in uncooked pet food embody hen, turkey, and beef.

Many homeowners feeding the uncooked pet food food regimen put together meals from scratch at house, however some corporations promote prepackaged frozen uncooked meals in slice-and-serve rolls, patties, or balls you thaw and function wanted.

Uncooked meals makers don’t heat substances like different producers, however they often mix and freeze them earlier than transport.

Since their merchandise are unprocessed, they aren’t required to fulfill AAFCO requirements, which is regarding. 

In addition they require cautious dealing with to make sure that neither you nor your canine aren’t sickened by dangerous micro organism, together with washing your fingers and cleansing surfaces that are available in contact with the meals.

Some homeowners just like the “pure” type of the uncooked pet food food regimen and declare it aids in pores and skin points or sensitivities. That mentioned, it’s very costly, and the FDA advises towards it, with a two-year research discovering that uncooked pet meals is extra more likely to comprise illness-causing micro organism like salmonella.

Canine Meals Security: Testing & Remembers

dog food inspector

Common onsite security testing of merchandise is a should for all pet meals producers, however the most effective corporations even have third-party testing carried out to make sure their merchandise are freed from dangerous contaminants and comprise acceptable nutrient ranges.

Security recollects are a necessary side of the manufacturing course of, and whereas they are often jarring, they’re an indication that high quality management is at work

Sorts of recollects embody voluntary recollects by the producer, FDA-requested ones, and people which can be FDA-ordered. 

It’s additionally necessary to notice that recollects occur for quite a lot of causes. Some do happen as a result of the meals has turn into contaminated with a dangerous substance or the meals was improperly nutritionally balanced. However recollects also can happen due to easy, comparatively benign issues like labeling errors. 

How Do You Decide a Meals for Your Canine?: Three Should-Haves

pick dog food

Selecting pet food can really feel overwhelming because the sheer quantity of choices grows in shops each day. Fortunately, you possibly can kind via these shortly if what to search for, making discovering the proper one on your barker a breeze.

An excellent pet food ought to:

Meet the AAFCO requirements on your canine’s life stage.


Should you learn a bag of pet food in America, you’ll see a notice about assembly AAFCO requirements. Many overlook this blurb, however it’s one thing to concentrate to, because it’s there on your and your canine’s profit. 

The AAFCO blurb mentions what profile the meals meets, similar to grownup upkeep (feeding grownup canine) or progress and replica (puppies and pregnant females.)

Meals meant as snacks or accompaniment to a whole food regimen will say “for intermittent feeding” or “supplemental feeding,” that means they don’t supply an entire and balanced set of vitamins for use as your canine’s solely meals. 

Now, no shock right here, however your canine’s vitamin wants change all through his life, with a pet having vastly totally different issues from a senior doggo.

AAFCO requirements additionally cowl particular issues, similar to the expansion of enormous breed puppies. In these circumstances, you need to search for a notice mentioning “the expansion of large-size canine (70 kilos or extra as an grownup). You additionally need to double-check the wording, because the assertion is usually preceded by “together with” or “excluding.”

Deal with any well being points your canine might have.

dog health problems

Your canine’s meals is an integral a part of his each day well being, so what goes in his bowl ought to assist with any underlying circumstances, whether or not it’s a kibble wealthy in fatty acids to assist pores and skin points or low-protein pet food for a pup with kidney points. 

Pet food with probiotics is an efficient match for sure tummy troubles, whereas single-protein canine meals and limited-ingredient recipes are perfect for canines with allergic reactions.

A superb rule of thumb right here is to ask your vet for manufacturing suggestions, significantly in case your pup has points past occasional gasoline.

Be made along with your vet’s recommendation.

health concerns of brachycephalic dogs

It’s all the time a good suggestion to seek the advice of your vet earlier than making important modifications to your mutt’s meal plan, particularly if he has any medical circumstances, as talked about above. 

Your canine’s well being is an enormous image that may be too laborious to see solely by yourself, and your vet can assist make it just a little clearer, serving to you decide the healthiest pet food on your greatest bud.

If a potential meals can verify all three packing containers, you’re heading in the right direction and have possible met your canine’s core nutrient wants.

How one can Decide a Canine Meals: Different Issues to Look For

Should you’d prefer to slender the sphere of choices additional when shopping the pet food aisle, search for:

  • A complete protein as the primary ingredient
  • Useful extras like glucosamine and chondroitin for joint well being or probiotics for digestive assist
  • A meals that includes high-quality grain (in case your canine doesn’t have a vet-diagnosed grain allergy)

Good pet food doesn’t must wallop your pockets, both, so don’t get distracted by fancy advertising and marketing. There are many nice budget-friendly canine meals to select from.

How Is Canine Meals Made: FAQ

The small print of canine manufacturing may be complicated. Let’s kind via essentially the most generally requested questions on how pet food is made and their solutions.

Is pet food nonetheless constituted of horses?

Whereas as soon as a typical ingredient, horse meat isn’t utilized in pet meals anymore within the U.S. The final processing plant for horse meat closed in 2007, and the protein is never imported anymore. Nevertheless, some manufacturers abroad nonetheless use horse meat, like Jolipet. 

If you wish to keep away from horse meat in your canine’s meals, solely use American-made pet food from respected manufacturers. It’s additionally necessary to analyze the place a model sources substances from. Domestically harvested proteins or these from different western nations like New Zealand, Australia, or Canada are greatest.

What’s most pet food product of?

Pet food often options protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The commonest protein in pet food is hen, however beef, lamb, and fish like salmon or whitefish are additionally often used. Carbohydrates in pet food sometimes come from rice, barley, oats, wheat, corn, or potatoes, and fat and oils could also be hen fats, beef fats, fish oil, or flaxseed oil.

Canine-safe greens and fruits are additionally included in lots of meals, with carrots, blueberries, cranberries, and peas typically showing in ingredient lists. Further nutritional vitamins and minerals are often added to fulfill the AAFCO normal of the meant canine client too.

Is there actual meat in pet food?

Sure, high quality pet food comprises actual meat. An excellent pet food on your canine could have complete, labeled meat as the primary ingredient, like free-range hen, grass-fed beef, or deboned turkey. A number of of the most effective dry canine meals and canned varieties supply unique proteins, like kangaroo, venison, and bison. 

Some canine meals characteristic meat meal instead of (or along with) complete meat, which continues to be a superb supply of protein and different vitamins, although their preparation isn’t everybody’s favourite to check. 

Why do vets not like home made pet food?

Most vets don’t advocate home made pet food as a result of the recipes aren’t balanced, resulting in nutrient deficiencies. Canine vitamin includes fastidiously measured protein, fat, carbs, nutritional vitamins, and minerals to maintain a complete system operating. Consider particular dietary wants, and it’s an actual headache.

Until you’re an animal nutritionist or veterinarian, you don’t have the coaching to correctly stability a home made pet food recipe, particularly in case your canine has underlying well being wants requiring a specialised food regimen. Should you’re contemplating a home made food regimen, converse along with your vet. 

What meals ought to canine completely not have?

Sadly, many meals are poisonous to canine. Chocolate is a well known downside merchandise for canine, however the listing additionally contains human favorites like onions, macadamia nuts, avocados, apple cores, grapes, and raisins. One other sneaky ingredient to skip is xylitol, a synthetic sweetener typically hiding in gum and peanut butter.

Whereas a number of pantry favorites are off-limits, there are some meals you possibly can share along with your canine, like cooked rice, popcorn, carrots, pumpkin, and eggs.

Is it cheaper or more healthy to make your personal pet food?

No. Sourcing substances is costlier than ever. You’ll additionally must seek the advice of with knowledgeable (both an animal nutritionist or your vet) to make sure your pup’s food regimen is balanced, which additional drives up the price of making ready your canine’s meals at house. The latter is a should, as most home made canine diets lack core vitamins that may negatively have an effect on your floof’s well being.

Should you’d prefer to prepare dinner on your pooch often as a deal with, attempt dog-friendly crockpot recipes. One other enjoyable possibility is to organize a home made pet food topper so as to add to your canine’s food regimen. 



Making pet food isn’t all the time fairly, however understanding the method is useful when in search of the most effective meals on your canine. It’s additionally simply enjoyable to know as an oddball canine reality.

What pet food type does your sniffer take pleasure in? Have been you stunned to listen to the way it’s made? Inquisitive about the rest canine food-related? 

Share with us within the feedback. We’d love to assist!

9 Finest Canine Meals for Australian Cattle Canine: Nice Eats!

A high-octane herder just like the Australian cattle canine wants meals that may sustain along with his famously tireless spirit. With so many choices available on the market, discovering the fitting meals in your good-looking heeler might be difficult.  Don’t...

Savory Meals for Your Beautiful Gun Canine

Life with a Brittany is sure to be filled with adventures, as this leggy girl runs at a fee of go-go-go. Meaning this stunning breed requires gas that may sustain together with her zest for all times – one thing that isn’t at all times simple.  Don’t stress;...

9 Finest Canine Meals for Jack Russell Terriers: Bow Wow!

As a Jack Russell terrier pawrent, you recognize this breed’s filled with power, mischief, and a contact of stubbornness — simply sufficient to maintain your family on its toes. Your enthusiastic, pint-sized buddy deserves a pet meals that matches his cheerful...

Your Canine’s Food regimen: An Introduction

By no means undermine the importance of a nutritious diet for each your canine’s well being and yours. The sustenance you give them is essential in dictating their lifespan, their general well being standing throughout their life, and even their long-lasting...

Learn how to Select the Proper Meals for Your Canine

You’ve bravely chosen to extend your clan and have shopped for toys and goodies. However, you now end up misplaced amidst the limitless decisions of pet food varieties. It could make issues simpler if our canines may categorical their likes and dislikes, sadly,...

Meals for Your Wrinkled Rover!

As a shar-pei mum or dad, we all know you wouldn’t accept something lower than the crème de la crème on your wrinkled surprise, together with what he eats. Discovering the appropriate meals isn’t all the time straightforward, although, contemplating the pet...

9 Finest Canine Meals for Cockapoos: Bow Wow WOW!

Hey there, Cockapoo connoisseurs! Are you circling the pet meals aisle such as you’re chasing your tail? We get it – selecting a pet food is hard. Making certain your curlicue canine will get the vitamin she wants can really feel like fixing a puzzle.  Don’t...

Uncooked Feeding Canines – Professionals, Cons & How you can Get Began

Canines, inherently carnivorous, necessitate a meat-based protein weight loss plan being essential for his or her digestive capabilities, not grain consumption. They're inherently conditioned to chase and devour uncooked prey. Offering your canine with its...

Finest Canine Meals for Maltipoos: Marvelous Meals for Your Majestic Mini

Hey Maltipoo pawrent! Are you having a tricky time choosing the right meals in your fluffy pal? Properly, that’s comprehensible – proudly owning a Maltipoo is like internet hosting royal tea day by day (with the queen being your puffy little princess)....

9 Finest Canine Meals for Aussiedoodles: Bow Wow WOW!

Consideration Aussiedoodle admirers! We all know your playful pup is the apple of your eye along with her good mix of the Australian shepherd’s sportiness and the poodle’s pomp.  Your Aussiedoodle deserves the very best mix of vitamins to gas her awesomeness,...

Carl Brooks


Introducing Carl, a highly experienced writer at our blog. With a deep passion for dogs and expertise in hypoallergenic dog food, Carl brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to our platform. His extensive experience in the field allows him to provide valuable advice on the technical specifications and features of hypoallergenic dog food, making him a valuable resource for all dog owners seeking to optimize their pet’s health and well-being.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *