What’s In Dog Food?

What’s In Dog Food?

Have you ever thought about how strange it
is that dogs eat these dry, weird smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never
get sick of them? How torturous would it be to be forced to
eat the same, boring cheese sandwich for every meal of the day for a decade on end? Are we torturing our dogs? As it turns out, no, dog food kibble is a
chemically custom tailored product that meets every mark when it comes to nutrition, diet,
and the interesting eating preferences of dogs. Once you see what dog food kibble is actually
made of, you’ll come to find that the real wonder science behind it is the chemistry
used to tickle Sparky’s fancy into thinking this stuff is to die for, when really it’s
not. Making the perfect dog food kibble is a scientific
puzzle, because each bite needs to balance a lifetime of nutritional requirements, with
affordability, and of course, with palatability. Though some dogs seem to eat about just anything. To optimize nutrition and cost, some added
ingredients aren’t exactly what dogs would want to call food, so scientists had to create
a solution to trick their senses into thinking it’s something that it’s not. Before we get into that, let’s take a look
at what’s inside a pellet of kibble. An organization called the Association of
American Feed Control Officials provide nutritional standards for dog food manufacturers. There’s a whole bunch of different dog food
formulas on the market, some are designed for weight loss and others for richer coats,
but the overall ingredients are relatively standard. These include grains, meats, fats, a vitamin/mineral
pre-mix, and chemical additives for color and a long shelf life. Yeah, your dog probably eats a better balanced
diet than you. Grains like wheat, rice, and corn, are added
as a source of starchy carbohydrates that offer an inexpensive source of energy for
dogs. Since raw starch is not easy to digest, the
grains are cooked, which makes the starch in them about 90% more digestible. This allows dogs to extract more nutrients
out of the grains, giving Sparky that energy boost he needs to play with his friends all
day. Cooking the grains also gives kibble its shape
and texture by causing the starches to gelatinize, giving kibble a stable, bulky quality. Some types of grain also provide fiber, which
makes using these little bags a lot easier if you know what I mean. But when it comes to a dog’s choice of what
they prefer to eat, dogs will more often than not, choose meat over carbs. Meats and meat meals are added as the primary
source of protein in kibble. Meat meals, are made from all the animal parts
we typically don’t eat like: scraps, guts, and bones. These by-products are cooked and dehydrated
and end up contributing more protein to dog food than added meats. Dogs will break down proteins in their small
intestine, into amino acids, which are crucial for muscle growth and the synthesis of hormones
and neurotransmitters. There are 10 essential amino acids that dogs
need to survive and all of those need to be included in a healthy dog food diet so little
Fido can hog your bed for years to come. Fats are also an important source of energy
and essential fatty acids in a dog’s diet. Little Scruffy’s skin and coat are greatly
affected by fatty acids, and without the right ones, his hair can become dry, matted and
well, scruffy, making him an aptly named dog. So dog food manufacturers add in several types
of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, to make Sparkles a more apt name. Fats also add a little extra flavor, which
is a big help because a lack of flavor is kibble’s biggest problem, well, to a dog,
anyway. These crunchy, dry pellets are super bland,
odorless, and unattractive to dogs. Not only are they made largely from grains,
a food that they would usually have nothing to do with, research has shown that dry dog
food has far less aroma than the wet stuff. Dog noses are around 10,000x more powerful
than ours, and they heavily rely on their sense of smell to hunt and scavenge for food
in nature. Keep in mind, flavor doesn’t just describe
what’s happening on taste buds, it also factors in aroma, so a food without a smell,
to dogs, is really unappetizing. This is where flavor chemists come in. They developed a custom built chemical aroma
called palatants that trick dogs into thinking these bland pellets have big flavor. Palatants are sprayed onto the outside of
dog food similar to how we flavor potato chips – the big difference is that, Sparky doesn’t
care for smoking hot barbeque – he wants wild rotten corpse or raging roadkill. Dogs are attracted to flavors that would make
us gag, like Putrescine and Cadaverine, two cleverly named compounds that come from the
breakdown of proteins. These two compounds quite literally smell
like a dead body, and for some reason, dogs absolutely love it. Yeah, Max will be having the time of her life
when that zombie apocalypse finally comes. Flavor chemists build palatants off this bizarre
preference, which helps to give the bland, dried kibble a desirable disguise to stoke
Sparky’s interest. Keeping your dog happy is keeping your dog
healthy. Flavor chemists use their genius to make these
boring bits of food into something spectacular to your dogs nose, and we thank them for that. Oh, and believe me they’re on your side. When making these artificial dog aromas, they
factor in our sense of smell too, so you know, we don’t vomit every time we open the dog
food bag. If you’re a music fan — which I’m guessing
is most of you — you should definitely check out Sound Field, the newest show from PBS
Digital Studios. Sound Field breaks down our favorite songs
and artists from all genres, from Bach to Beyonce. The show is hosted by two amazing musicians,
Nahre Sol and “LA” Buckner, who even come up with an original song in every episode. Check out Sound Field at the link in the doobleydoo
below. We love making videos about pets, and want
to know if you have any other pet related chemistry questions for us to answer. Let us know down in the comments. And be sure to like and subscribe on your
way out. Thanks for watching.

23 Replies to “What’s In Dog Food?

  1. Pet question: What is aquarium dechlorinator, and would it be safe to use on water you were going to brew beer or kombucha with?

  2. We supplement our dogs food with cooked meals. They love it when we make them fresh food. Somehow when we cook fresh, some kibbles are always left behind. 😉 🐶 ❤️

  3. it's odd that putrescine and cadaverine smell bad to us given that a large part of human history was eating left over bone marrow which I can't imagine smells much better.

  4. So they add a lot of starch which turns into sugar when eaten, then cook this stuff to death so there's no flavor, then hire chemists to spray chemicals on the kibble so they will eat this garbage. Wonderful, no wonder more than 50% of dogs are getting cancer.

  5. I was going to ask if they were ever going to make a human equivalent.. then I remembered Mcdonalds existed, except it's not healthy.

  6. Kibble is trash. Give your fur babies natural food. Meat, sweet potatoes, string beans, eggs, etc. Kibble is processed food, and therefore, unhealthy.

  7. So kibble is mostly grains that dogs wouldn’t normally eat and can’t easily digest but we cook them and add an attractive smell so they do eat it? That doesn’t sound very good for dogs.

    When did the kibble industry start? Why do our dogs need to eat that? Why don’t we just feed our dogs leftovers and meat and bones like people used to? I know my dogs don’t really like kibble, they eat it because that’s what they have to eat. But when they eat meat and eggs, they DEVOUR them because they are so delicious.

  8. In summary, kibble is made of a bunch of food dogs aren't supposed to eat to make it cheap, sprayed with chemicals to make it smell yummy when really its bland and flavourless and thats all they eat for the rest of their lives? Glad I'm not a dog

  9. Thanks for the love Reactions! I'd be interested in a human meal designed like dog food that's as cheap and easy to prepare…

  10. As a nutrition scientist, I have answered questions about the way that animals, particularly dogs, can eat foods that would be considered spoiled for human consumption, yet the treatment and shorter time it spends in the canine digestive system make it less likely to make them ill. This coupled with their ability to summarily reject items at one point (we know what that means), or eat grass to provide another way to mitigate some of the risks, is another. All fascinating stuff for the dog owner.

  11. i never liked the chemistry classes at my high school, but i just subscribed to this channel because it presents information in a fascinating and fun way

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