“What makes a pet food better?” is one of the most frequently asked questions we get. Your fur baby is family and you want to feed them the best, but with all the pet food options out there it can be hard to determine what “better” actually means.
A better dog or cat food starts first and foremost with the ingredients. Then how it’s processed and the food safety measurements in place to make sure it’s 100% safe 100% of the time. We’ll take a deeper dive into each of these topics so you can make a more educated choice on what food is right for your dog or cat.
Here are some tips to consider when looking at ingredients:
- Premium ingredients. Ingredients such as grass-fed beef, grass-fed lamb, cage-free poultry and certified organic produce help signify a food made with top of the line ingredients.
- Look at the first five ingredients on the label. Is the first ingredient meat? Are the first five ingredients all high quality ingredients? Ingredients have to be listed in the order of what percentage the recipe they are and the first five ingredients typically make up the majority of what’s in the food. At Stella & Chewy’s high-quality meat is always the first ingredient in every recipe we make.
- Find a food high in meat. Dogs are carnivores, they crave meat. Feeding a complete and balanced diet where meat is the primary ingredient will not only keep pups healthy, but can also help keep teeth and gums healthy, help keep their coats vibrant, and can increase their vitality/stamina.
- None of the bad stuff. You don’t want artificial flavors or preservatives in the food. Dogs and cats can be allergic or sensitive to these and are certainly not something they need to be consuming.
- Probiotics are great for your dog’s digestive system and overall health. Look to see if they are included in the recipe. This is yet another strong signal you’re looking at a great dog food.
All of our Freeze Dried Raw recipes and Frozen Raw recipes are 90-95% meat, organs, and bones while our Raw Coated Kibble and Raw Blend Kibble options are 65%-70% meat, animal ingredients, and healthy oils. Our Stella’s Stews feature only human-grade ingredients.
The amount of processing in food often relates to how denatured the food is from its original source and what non-essential additives are included. We make it a point to minimally process our food. Food that is minimally processed does not contain fillers or artificial flavors which not only makes it more wholesome and nutritious, but it also means that it contains healthy natural oils and is easier for pets to digest. Additionally, diets that are minimally processed, like our Freeze Dried Raw and Frozen Raw, include fewer allergy triggering ingredients. Less processed is more like nature intended. It’s the same reason you shop for fresh ingredients in your food.
If less processed matters to you consider these tips:
1. Go raw. Frozen raw and freeze dried raw are less processed than other types of dog food.
2. Get baked. If raw is not right for you, consider a baked kibble. Most pet parents think all kibble is baked, but the far majority of kibble is extruded at high heat which lessens the nutritional quality and natural taste of the food. Our kibble is gently baked at much lower temperatures.
Commitment to Food Safety
Ultimately, food safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to a better pet food, because if it’s not safe nothing else matters. Food safety is Stella & Chewy’s number one priority. The food that we make is the very same that we feed our own dogs. We understand the trust that pet parents put into our company whenever they select any of our food or treat options.
It’s a responsibility and commitment to pets and pet parents that we take incredibly seriously. We use HPP on all of our raw food options – this is a cold water pressure process, many foods you’ll see it labeled as cold pressed, that effectively eliminates harmful bacteria from the food. We use this process on all of our products, regardless of the protein. As food-borne bacteria can be present in any type of meat, we feel that incurring the extra cost of HPP for all of our products is the responsible thing to do. This way our customers can rest assured that they’re always bring a safe food into their home.
We have a “test and hold” process in place where we send all batches to a 3rd party testing facility to be tested for Salmonella, E.coli, and Listeria with nothing leaving our facility until we have negative test results in hand. We post all these test results on our website so that pet parents can access them with the lot number on your Stella & Chewy’s packaging. You can learn even more by reading our Food Safety blog post.
Where the ingredients come from is just as important as what they are. Due to our mission of helping dogs and cats thrive, we focus on only the good stuff. We never source any ingredient from China. Our proteins are cage-free, grass-fed, or wild-caught. It’s important to us that we partner with only farmers and ranchers who we know and trust to ensure that we’re sourcing the best ingredients.