Fresh-cooked dog food is a relatively new concept in the world of pet food. It involves cooking premium ingredients slowly by hand at low temperatures to preserve its nutrient content. For example, Canadian brand Kabo partners with local farms to source meat and produce — the same stuff that’s delivered to restaurants. Then, the food is immediately vacuum sealed and frozen to preserve freshness. This process omits the harmful additives and chemicals found in some types of kibble. It also leads to better digestibility.
Digestibility is the amount of dog food that is absorbed in your pup’s digestive tract. The absorbed nutrients are then used by the dog for growth and energy. This is compared to how much of the dog food is simply unused and excreted. Ideally, to maximize value and nutrition, a pet food will have a high digestibility percentage.
Different ingredients will have a higher or lower digestibility. This also changes depending on the animal. For dogs, meat products have a higher level of digestibility than plant products. Plant ingredients still provide dogs with some important nutrients but food with too much plant content will not be processed correctly by your dog’s digestive system.
“Digestibility of the food is important, but it is not disclosed on the packaging,” says veterinarian Dr. Catherine Kerr. Being aware of what your dog needs, rather than what just fills them up, can make the difference when it comes to your dog’s weight and overall health.
A pioneering study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the first to examine the digestibility of human-grade dog foods. The animal nutritionists examined the digestibility of several different fresh dog food products and results of the study showed that fresh-cooked food ranked highly in easy-to-process nutrients.
While all of the fresh-cooked diets were highly digestible, some were more digestible than others. The fresh-cooked diets that contained more plant products were slightly less digestible. Furthermore, meat ingredients with less connective tissue and collagen like pork, chicken and slow-cooked beef were more digestible in terms of protein.
Apart from digestibility, the scientists also found that all of the fresh-cooked dog foods met and exceeded what is considered nutritionally adequate for dogs. This means that fresh-cooked food contains all the necessary nutrients for a healthy pup.
Have you tried fresh-cooked dog food? Let us know in the comments!