One of the more common questions from new pet owners is about the best diet for their dogs, and comparing wet vs dry dog food brands. Which type of diet is better for canines, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
To answer this specific question, I have Petcurean‘s Dr Jennifer Adolphe, PhD in Nutrition, back on the podcast. Dr Adolphe provides a lot of helpful pet nutrition tips, and we we also discuss the differences between wet foods and dry kibble, their pros and cons, as well as the importance of safe packaging of pet foods and how to transition your pet onto a new diet.
Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.
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Wet vs Dry Dog Food
(raw podcast transcript)
INTRO: Welcome back for another episode of Theory of Pets. And, if you looked at the title you obviously know that I'm talking to Dr. Adolphe again today from Petcurean. She has been a frequent expert on my show which is great and I always appreciate that.
She is back this month because Petcurean has launched a new line called Now Fresh. And there are a few different things about this line that really stood out to me. So these are stews and it's wet food. They're stews and pates. So they're a form of wet food or canned dog food. They're not the traditional canned food that you think about.
So she'll explain a little bit about that. And we also are going to talk about the Tetra Pak packaging that they're using for this line obviously because it's a wet dog food. Something that a lot of pet parents don't think about when they're buying products is the containers that they're coming in.
I know more often than not, now we're seeing wet dog foods, especially the newer ones, that are coming in these little, they look like Tupperware. They're these little plastic containers. It's great because they're usually portion-controlled for you so you don't have to do any of that. And it takes kind of the guess work out of portioning for your dogs. But also, something that pet owners aren't thinking about is that most of these products are made with plastic. And while some of them do think about the packaging, others don't. And there are chemicals in the plastic. So, while you're buying an organic food that's supposed to be healthy for your dog, you're also buying a container that is filled with toxins and chemicals that can actually leak into the food from the container. So it's something that you need to think about.
And it's something that Dr. Adolphe talks about today with the new Tetra Pak packaging that we're seeing and that's found in the Now Fresh line from Petcurean. But you can also find it in a few other dog food / pet food products now. So it's becoming more popular, but a lot of pet owner's don't know about it. So I wanted Dr. Adolph to talk to us about the Tetra Pak packaging. But also another thing that stands out about this line is the fact that it's a wet food. So she also is going to discuss the differences between wet and dry kibbles, the pros and cons of each, and how you can decide which one is going to be best for your pet.
Interview with Dr. Jennifer Adolphe
Dr. Adolphe: Petcurean is really excited to introduce the Now Fresh Tetra Pak wet foods for dogs and cats. And this product was just launched in the summer of 2017, and it's a new addition to our lineup.
Samantha: This has some unique benefits, and one of those benefits is actually you guys are looking — Of course, you're looking at the food itself and the product but you're also looking at the packaging with this one.
And you've done something different there, so can you tell us a little bit about the packaging that you're using and why it's so important?
Dr. Adolphe: Yes. So like you said, the food itself is really important, but the package that it comes in is equally as important from an environmental and quality standpoint. So for the Now Fresh wet foods, we chose to use Tetra Pak cartons which are — We're very familiar with them in the grocery store, but they're less common in the pet food store. So we chose Tetra Pak, because they are innovative to the pet specialty industry, but very-well established and similarly in the human food industry.
Our products work really well in the Tetra Pak format, and the great thing about the cartons is that they're easily stacked so they take up less space on the shelf, less space when they're being shipped to the retail stores. So this means that there's less of an environmental impact.
Also, the cartons themselves are a highly sustainable option. They are manufactured from forest-stewardship, council-certified paper which is made from 65% renewable materials. Also once you're done with the carton, they are easily recyclable. And I've been using these with my own three dogs, and they're great. When you toss them into the recycling bin, you can fully compact them, so they don't take up a lot of space.
Some of the other benefits of the Tetra Pak is that they're lined with a — they have a food-grade polypropylene layer, which is BPA-free, and the lining is FDA approved for food contact. So it's very much like what's used, or the same as what's used in the human food industry.
Something that I personally love about the Tetra Pak cartons is that there is no sharp edges. They're super easy to open. It's just a perforated tear top, so you just rip that off, open it up. I actually was speaking with a colleague and she said that she will use it with her dog as a training treat. It's super tasty nutritious food, and when she goes to reward her pup, she just lets the dog lick a little bit out of the container and super high reward value.
Samantha: Oh neat. That's a great, that's another different way to use it that most people probably wouldn't think of. That's cool.
Dr. Adolphe: Yes, totally. I thought that was a really innovative idea. So yes, so the packaging, the packaging is really, really fantastic and innovative.
Samantha: And I think that's something that a lot of pet parents will really think about when they are buying food. A lot of, especially wet food diets will come in plastic containers. And sometimes those aren't made with high-quality ingredients, and the chemicals in those plastics can actually leak into the food. So while they might be maybe looking at an organic all-natural, really healthy good quality food, it actually does have exposure to chemicals through the packaging, and that's something that a lot of people don't really think about.
Dr. Adolphe: Yes. So then Now Fresh wet foods offer 100% fresh ingredients. All of the ingredients are human-grade and it's manufactured in a human-grade facility. None of the ingredients are genetically engineered, so non-GMO. Contains no rendered ingredients and no grains or gluten, and one of the other ingredients in the foods is turkey bone broth, which is a great meaty flavor that dogs and cats really love.
And because the food is cooked and in the cartons, it's free of preservatives and it cooks right in there so there is no risk of cross contamination.
Samantha: Oh, so the food actually cooks right in the packaging.
Dr. Adolphe: That's right. So once the food is cooked, it's sealed right in the packaging while it's cooking so there is no risk of any pathogens or bacteria getting into the container so it is really high quality from a food safety perspective.
Samantha: Yeah that's fantastic.
Most people feed a kibble diet, it's the most popular mostly because it's the most inexpensive. It's also really easy to feed, all you have to do is scoop it out, measure it, and put it in the bowl, and it's, like I said, the most inexpensive.
While it might be a little more expensive to feed a wet diet, can you tell us about the benefits of feeding your pet a wet food over dry kibble?
Dr. Adolphe: Yeah for sure.
Kibble is great, like you said; it has many advantages for feeding pets, it's economical, safe, convenient, and healthy option.
But there are two main benefits to feeding a wet diet, and those are the moisture content, and the palate-ability. So if you think about it, water is actually the most important nutrient for pets because we really can not sustain life without water, and it's essential for life for many important roles — in circulation, digestion, waste removal.
So it's important that pets continually get a source of moisture. Some people think that panting in dogs is a sign of dehydration, but actually it's not. It helps dogs regulate their body temperature, and cool themselves down. But it is important to make sure that pets, both dogs and cats, get enough moisture from their food and drinking water.
Cats in particular are not natural water drinkers, so getting water from their food is important. Cats that only eat dry kibble may be at increased risk of urinary track stones because the lack of water causes their urine to be too concentrated which may increase the environment for the development of stones.
So feeding a wet food like the Now Fresh Tetra Pak options are a great way to add water into your cat diet. You could also add water to your cat's kibble to help increase fluids in paper. You have to remember that once you add water it becomes like a fresh food, and the food needs to be refrigerated if it's not quickly consumed.
Wet foods tend to be super palatable for both dogs and cats. So, wet foods can be used as an addition to feeding kibble to add variety and improve acceptance of the food. If you have a pet that is a picky eater, adding some wet food into the mix can be a great help.
Samantha: You talked about it just briefly, but are there some pets who can benefit from a wet diet more than others? I know you mentioned the pets with urinary tract or kidney issues, but are there other pets that could benefit more from a wet diet?
Dr. Adolphe: So when you're choosing a food for your pet, it's important to consider the individual needs of your pet. Thinking about your pet's health status, age, breed and lifestyle. And it's really the overall nutrient composition that's typically more important than the food format per se, whether it's wet versus dry.
But wet foods, because of the format, they can be higher in fats and or protein, so something to remember is that fat is a very energy-dense nutrient, and so these recipes can help dogs who are under weight to gain some weight, and also because the foods are very palatable, they can help to promote weight gain in pets that are underweight.
But, I mean, most of the pet population tends to be on the heavier side, not on the lighter side. So it's something to think about for pets that may need to lose a few pounds, and high fat, higher fat diet may not be recommended.
For picky eaters, the enhanced palate-ability of wet foods is great. Wet foods are also soft, so they can be easier to chew for dogs with few or no teeth.
Samantha: And are there some dogs who shouldn't eat wet food? Is there any health concerns or anything like that that maybe they should stay away from a wet food diet?
Dr. Adolphe: Again you need to consider the nutrient content, and since some wet foods are very high in protein or fat, again a dog that needs to shed a few pounds may not be suited for a higher fat diet. A high fat diet is also not recommended for dogs who are recovering from pancreatitis, so it's important to think about the nutrient composition of the food when you're choosing what to feed your pet.
Samantha: So let's say an owner has maybe always fed their dog kibble his entire life, and now he's becoming a senior, he's lost some teeth, he's got some dental health troubles, and they're looking to switch to a wet diet. So, of course, obviously, they want to talk to a canine nutritionist or their veterinarian to find the wet food that's going to be suitable for their dog's needs.
Once they find that, do you have any guidelines or tips for switching the dog from the kibble to the wet food?
Dr. Adolphe: Oh. We have some great resources on our website on Petcurean.com that talk about transitioning. We even have a little video to help you out.
But the most important thing to remember is that transitioning to a new food should be done slowly and with care. So you need to allow your pet a chance to adapt to the change to avoid any digestive upset.
So the transition period should be a minimum of about 10 days and could take as long as two weeks or more depending on your pet's sensitivity to change. And if your pet does experience any kind of digestive upset during this time or is being a bit picky, try slowing down the process to let them adjust to the new food. So what I mean by slowing down the process is — don't add as much of the new food to your pet's old food so that you can introduce the new food more slowly.
So what we recommend is on the first day that you add the new food, add about 10% of the new food, about 90% of the old food, so they just kind of getting a taste of the new food. And then slowly increase that each day until your pet is fully on the new food.
Different pets react differently to diet changes. My own dogs are quite resilient. I can change their food over just a few days. Or as I have friends with pets who take much longer.
Some vomiting and diarrhea can be a normal part of introducing new foods as the digestive changes take place and the naturally occurring bacteria readjust. But if there's any significant problems, if you're concerned, of course, speak with your veterinarian. And also, again, back off and do that transition slowly.
Samantha: Those are some great tips, I know. And it's really beneficial too, not necessarily from kibble to wet food, but kibble to kibble even if you're just switching the brand. That gradual transition is really key to that, so thanks for sharing that.
So we've talked a little bit about Now Fresh and some of the benefits that that new formula's going to offer over others, as well as those unique Tetra Pak cartons, which are really unique. As well, like you said, you can find them in the pet food industry. But certainly not nearly as common as in the human food industry.
Is there anything else that we should know about know about Now Fresh that you haven't spoken about already?
Dr. Adolphe: We have the new Now Fresh juice and pates. We have four options for cats and two flavor options for dogs. They make a great addition to your pet's diet.
Samantha: Would they also make a good addition if you are feeding a dry kibble diet and you wanted just to add a little bit for a topper or if you have a picky eater and trying to get him to eat, just add those as a topper as well? Or are they more — should they be more used for a complete diet?
Dr. Adolphe: Using them as a topper is great option to add some flavor, additional flavor, and variety into your pets diet. That's a great idea and a great use for the new Now Fresh Tetra Pak diet.
Samantha: A big thanks again for Dr. Adolphe for being on the shower. She is a frequent visitor here and we really appreciate her input every time she comes. This was some great information about the differences between wet and dry foods and which one might be appropriate for your dog.
If you have any additional questions on your pet's diet, on wet versus dry kibble, whatever the case may be, feel free to jump on our website, Theoryofpets.com. You can either record your question and send it to me and I might use it on a future podcast to help out other pet parents that might be wondering the same thing. Or you can just send me an e-mail and I can either that question myself or if I am unsure of the answer, I will pass on it to Doctor Adolphe and see if I can get you guys an answer to any questions that you might have that she could help with as well.
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