What are the different types of pet food available?
There are five main types of pet food available in Australia. Two of these are considered highly processed and three minimally processed.
"Dry kibble and canned foods are considered ultra-processed, whereas light-cooked, raw and freeze/air-dried foods are considered minimally processed," says Dr. Muir.
Dry pet food
Dry pet food is normally found in the form of kibble. Kibble is popular amongst pet owners as it is a convenient and economical pet food option. However, most kibble is ultra-processed, with ingredients being prepared at higher temperatures - making the end product less nutritious than it could have been.
"Ultra-processed food generally has high levels of carbohydrates," says Dr. Muir, "Dogs do not have any requirement for carbohydrates, so many refer to this type of diet as biologically inappropriate."
Canned pet food
Another convenient pet food option for owners, but comes with the price of being highly processed.
Lightly-cooked pet food
Lightly cooked pet food is when food is heated enough to kill pathogens often found in raw ingredients (i.e. salmonella and e-coli), but still preserves the nutrition value of the ingredients. It's a minimally-processed option of pet food.
Raw pet food
Raw pet food is primarily seen in the form of uncooked meat, edible bones, organs and dog-safe vegetables. It is unprocessed and is easily accessible.
Freeze or air-dried pet food
Freeze-dried or air-dried pet food is raw pet food that has gone through the process of drying to preserve the nutrients found in raw food. The end result is a highly nutritious, minimally-processed, shelf-stable product for your pet.
What are the benefits of feeding minimally processed food to your pet?
"The scientific benefits of feeding minimally-processed, low-carbohydrate diets [to your pet] include: a more diverse population of friendly gut bacteria, less risk of mould toxicity from food, less risk of obesity and decreased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)," says Muir.
The best pet food subscriptions available in Australia
With different options of pet food available and giving your pet a balanced diet in mind, we’ve rounded up the best pet food subscriptions that will get tails wagging for more.
For the purpose of price comparison, we’ve used Gimli as our generic dog size throughout this round up. Gimli is a two year-old toy cavoodle, weighing 8kg and is pretty active (1-2 hours of walking/playing per day).
Subscribe now at Perfect Bowl
Designed with palatability in mind, you’ll find your dog (who is typically a fussy eater), snout-deep in a Perfect Bowl.
Perfect Bowl’s recipes have been developed by their in-house animal nutritionist - incorporating the latest developments in veterinary nutrition - and are AAFCO Complete and Balanced.
The current range is made through a gentle cooking process using locally sourced, human-grade meat, poultry and vegetables alongside superfoods such as omega-3 oil, kelp powder, rosemary and turmeric - with no nasty preservatives or fillers.
Subscribe now at Petzyo
Choose from Petzyo’s selection of grain-free dry and raw dog food that is packed with superfood extras and is made from 100 per cent natural ingredients. Its Kibble That Counts range comes in three flavours - chicken and turkey, salmon and oceanfish, kangaroo and sweet potato - is made in small batches which means its fresh when delivered to your door!
“Fantastic experience. Easy to order, excellent communication throughout and doggo's coat is now beautiful and soft,” notes a five-star reviewer.
Petzyo’s raw dog food range features chicken, beef and kangaroo, with each flavour made to suit different dogs and their needs.
Subscribe now at Lyka
With rave reviews, Lyka is one of Australia’s most popular dog food subscription services - and with good reason. With five different recipes formulated by their in-house vet, Dr. Muir, lightly cooked to preserve vital nutrients, every bite is packed with whole food goodness.
With options aplenty from turkey, lamb, kangaroo, beef, chicken to fish, your pup will be licking their bowl clean in no time.
"It’s beneficial to do your research and opt for a wholefood dog food, with a meal plan-based offering like Lyka’s, where meals provided are not only balanced and include the necessary nutrients, but are tailored to the attributes and specific health needs of each individual dog," says Dr. Muir.
"Buddy’s improvement was huge after just one month on Lyka. No more itching. His coat got smooth, soft and shiny. It’s been the best thing for him," says reviewer and dog owner, Ana.
Subscribe now at Bezzie
If your pup is currently on dry food only and you’re wanting to introduce raw food into their diet, the Bezzie Mix and Match dog food subscription is worth looking into. Choose from beef, chicken, or a combination of the two for raw food, and complement it with dry food - choosing from turkey and lamb, fish or chicken and duck puppy bites. Plus, all of Bezzie's ingredients are sustainably sourced, premium and human-grade.
Subscribe now at Scratch
Built with flexibility in mind, you can pause, adjust, push forward, change delivery address and much more within your Scratch subscription. Simply fill out a few details about your dog and the team will suggest a personalised plan filled with sustainably-sourced lean meat, whole Aussie veggies, healthy oils and plenty of fibre. Your pupper will be scratching for more!
“My German Shepherd puppy loves the kangaroo packs. Steady growth every week, poo has been good also. Their customer service is amazing. Fast response to all of my enquiries, very satisfied,” comments a five-star reviewer.
Subscribe now at Raw & Fresh
Raw and Fresh are passionate about giving your dog or cat the best (and healthy) life. They've therefore crafted a completely balanced raw diet, no matter what special dietary requirement your dog or cat may need. The subscription meal plans are customisable and are made (and delivered) fresh, not frozen. Your pet will be spoiled with fresh produce, straight from the farm.
Shop now at Pet House
If you’re wanting to choose specific brands of pet food to be delivered straight to your door swiftly, then Pet House will have you covered. Pet House is not only one of Australia’s biggest online pet food stores, it also offer a handy auto-delivery service so your pet’s food and supplies can be delivered to you, without you even having to lift a finger. Each reoccuring order helps you save extra, and the auto-delivery service makes the chore of buying pet food super convenient. Perfect for dog-owners on the go.
How important is a balanced diet for your pet?
Long story short: this is critically important. Dogs and cats have high requirements for protein, omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
"Biology is complex and amazing, with specific nutrients all playing roles in keeping the body healthy and delaying ageing," says Dr. Muir.
"It is critical to ensure your pet’s nutritional plan is based on delivery of all necessary nutrients in a bioavailable form and in the appropriate ratios to one another - for example, omega-6:omega-3 ratio and zinc:copper ratio. If they are not in balance with one another, it can affect what these nutrients do in the body - especially the ability of diet to be inflammatory and cause liver damage."
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LEAD PHOTO: LYKA