HomeEditorialJoe Kearns - EditorialsFrom the editor: dog food
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From the editor: dog food

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Dogs are by far the most acquired pet in the world. It is estimated that there are near 900 million dogs worldwide with the USA having 10% at 90 million. As a note there are about 400 million cats worldwide to give perspective.

In review it appears based on whose list you agree with that China, Russia, Japan and the Philippines round out the top five with the USA leading in dog ownership. Did you know that the USA spends over US$50billion on their pets, and 36% give their dog birthday presents?

In 2019 it was estimated the USA had near 70 million dogs, thus in three years the dog population went up by almost 25%! With so many people staying home during this period it seems the pandemic was good for the pet industry.

The American Kennel Club has a list of 192 different dog breeds giving everybody a style, size, appearance and many different functional dogs.

I admit having had five dogs over time, a beagle, three English Pointers and one German Shorthair Pointer and everyone received birthday and holiday presents. Pets are fully part of families and the best part is they know it.

In fact, I have seen that the dogs know their function, what they live for, as in when the orange vests came out my dogs knew what came next, a drive to the fields of Kansas so they could find quail and pheasants.

I loved the fact that they enjoyed these days more than anything and when we returned home, they were just as comfortable being spectacular house dogs, we were truly best friends.

This family orientation is a driving force in the industry, providing the best for your pets. The purchasers are the pet owners and thus all the different products available for pets.

Every time I go to the pet store it amazes me of the variety and styles of petfoods and products available. The most recent visit resulted in seeing petfoods made with cage free chicken meat, foods high in omega 3 and 6, fresh meat style petfoods, weight management foods, salmon and sweet potato diets with zero grain and lamb and rice for sensitive stomachs and skin to mention a few styles.

I have found diets for Chihuahua, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Shih Tzu’s to name just a few breed specific petfoods.

Dog food additives
All petfood producers are seeing the ads on TV and internet about products sold to be fed in addition to their extruded product to give the pets a supplement that improves conditions in your dog.

I never used such a product and it never seemed to be needed in my opinion. Overall, these supplements offer solutions for your pet with skin and coat problems, reduce allergic reactions as well as digestive issues.

An interesting observation is that reviews seen did not reference the dog foods they used with the supplements. I would have to say that the reviews were very mixed and the only conclusion that can be made is more exacting studies need to be conducted.

To be clear not all dogfoods are made the same, ingredients vary, different production machines with varying designs and different operators and for this reason more details are needed to justify these kinds of products in relation to the petfood fed.

Why not run the equipment so as the pre and probiotics can be included in the recipe? Discussion on this topic is due and needed. As mentioned earlier, production equipment has advanced greatly over the years and equipment producers are obviously working to make their machine produce a better product.

Preconditioning, the extruder barrel as well as controls have been at the center of these developments allowing a more precise production over time.

I can assure you from my perspective having witnessed changes and the studies related to determining if these changes are beneficial or not. Example, moisture used in extrusion results in reduced vitamin loss when the production moisture level is elevated.

It has been proven that dry extrusion has the highest vitamin losses and as moisture increases the results improve. When you factor in the elevated use of fat and high moisture meats you can visualise the process is not as severe as in the past as friction cook is being reduced and replaced by thermal cook.

Keep in mind that historically, preconditioning was limited to four minutes as more time in this device resulted in reduction in lysine. Lysine is the 1st amino acid affected by heat and time.

Another point to consider is the concept that cats, based on preference testing, liked their dry kibble processed so as there is a bit more Maillard reaction occurring or a slightly burnt flavour. The Maillard reaction is what happens between reducing sugars and protein by the impact of heat.

Shaping petfoods
There are many different shapes for petfoods, round balls, square pieces, triangles, ovals, rings to just a name a few for dogs not getting into pet treats. Cats have traditionally liked to nibble or bite off a piece of a kibble thus the shapes tend to have points such as a star or a cross shape of some sort.

When discussion on single or twin-screw extrusion starts, one of the comparison points is the evenness in these points off the centre of a kibble. Twin screws with a more positive pressure profile will make these points a more even thickness where on a single screw they will get thinner at the end of the points.

It is also the reason these kinds of shapes are made with a thinner die plate, better definition of the shape. The idea of counterboring the back side of the die in slower flow areas does allow for a velocity increase at that point to make a more even looking thickness product, however, cat foods being so small overall this is not usual on cat foods.

One more note, the orientation of the hole in the die in relation to the direction of the knife does have an effect on the final product shape. Historic use of insert dies allowed the insert to be rotated thus this effect could be seen.

Article contributed by Joe Kearns, Editor, International Petfood magazine.

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