Complete or Complimentary
First of all its best to understand that not all foods are complete in nutrients. There are both complete and complimentary available on the shelves.
Complete foods are by far the most popular choice for dog owners in the UK. In order to be ‘complete’ they must contain every nutrient required by a dog in sufficient amounts to keep the dog healthy which means they can be fed alone. Complete foods can be dry, wet or frozen.
Complementary foods are usually wet or frozen foods that don’t contain the full range of nutrients required by a dog/cat or contain them in inappropriate proportions. For this reason they need to be fed alongside a mixer biscuit or complete food to gain the correct balance for your pet.
Mixers are usually cereal based filler biscuits, occasionally with vegetables or herbs. They are nutritionally incomplete (they don’t contain all of the nutrients required by a dog) and so have to be fed alongside a wet or frozen food. Like all dog foods, mixers range from very good quality to very poor.
Dry, Wet or Frozen?
Once the decision on the above had been made, owners can then look into what ‘type’ of food they would prefer to feed. As we already know, dry food is the most user friendly as it is convenient to feed and often works out to be very cost effective when compared to Wet foods.
The majority of British dogs are fed on dry complete foods. Their popularity certainly owes a lot to their convenience as they don’t need any preparation and don’t have any special storage requirements.
Dry foods are made from dried and ground ingredients and can be cooked in a number of ways:
Dry foods can be fed alongside or mixed with both wet foods and frozen foods. When mixing complete diets, you should take care not to feed too much. The easiest way would be to feed half of the suggested feeding amount of the first food with half the recommended amount of the second. With raw frozen foods and mixing, it is recomened that only 10% of the pets meal is the frozen diet – essentially using the frozen food as a topper. This is great way to get the benefits of raw but the convenience of a kibble.
Wet foods are also very popular and can be found in tins, trays and pouches. Wet foods don’t require any added preservatives as the cooking process kills all micro-organisms within the sealed containers. Wet foods can be complete or complementary. Since wet foods contain a large amount of water, the feeding amounts are much higher than those of dry foods which often makes them more expensive to feed.
In the last few years, frozen foods have really started to take off. Freezing is the most natural way of preserving nutrients, although the difficulty of transporting the foods and thawing them over-night makes them the least convenient category of pre-prepared dog foods. Both raw and pre-cooked frozen diets are available and like wet foods, there are both complete and complementary varieties.