Researching the Formula
Dog food begins with careful scientific study. Pet foods are all very carefully monitored to make sure that they offer complete nutrition. Scientists gather all of the nutritional data on various ingredients used in dog food and evaluate them to determine whether the dog food formula offers a balanced and nutritious meal. If the combination of ingredients is well balanced, then the formula is sent for production and testing. The dog food is then made in very small batches and tested again to ensure that the end product is still a healthy food choice. If the formula needs adjusting, it is done at this time before being mass produced.
Gathering the Ingredients
Dog food companies gather the required ingredients from various sources. The main ingredients in commercial dog foods are grains, meat and meat by-products, poultry, seafood and soybean material. Ingredients that do not need much processing such as the grains and soybean materials are normally shipped directly to the dog food manufacturing plant. More complex ingredients, such as the meats, need to be rendered before being added to the dog food. Rendering is the cooking process that separates the meat of an animal from the bones and hard tissues. The rendered animal parts are then shipped to the dog food plant for production.
Creating the Dog Food
Production of the dog food begins by cooking together the grains and the rendered animal parts. The mixture is normally cooked with water and heated to a high temperature before being ground up into very fine meal. Other ingredients, such as oils, preservatives and vitamins, are added after the meal has been ground and the mixture is further blended to incorporate all parts thoroughly. Moist dog foods are often dyed a red or other meat-like color, and the dye in blended into the mixture after all of the necessary ingredients are added. At this time, moist or canned dog foods are normally placed in the required shipping containers and the containers sealed to make sure the food does not spoil.
Molding the Product
Dry dog foods are typically molded before packaging. This molding process normally forms the dry dog food into shapes such as bones, small circles or other nugget-like shapes after the mixture is completely cooked. Dry dog food products are further cooked after molding to make sure that the food is thoroughly dry and ready for packaging. Once dry, the dog food is commonly sprayed with scents or other additives that make them enticing to dogs. This is done just before packaging so that they last as long as possible.
Packaging and Shipping
Packaging and labeling is done in predetermined units or sizes, depending on the type of food. Moist dog food is normally done in metal cans, while dry dog food is packaged in bags ranging from one pound to 50 pounds. Canned dog food is heated after being packaged to seal in the dog food and seal out any bacteria. Packages are labeled after being sealed, typically with the company logo and nutritional information. The dog food is then crated and shipped to retailers for purchase by consumers.