Why You’re Thinking About Pet Food Quality Wrong
When it comes to pet food, it's hard to talk about quality without quantifiable points of measurement. At a minimum, companies are required to report certain information, including a limited guaranteed analysis, ingredients by weight and the nutritional adequacy statement. Unfortunately, this information is not an accurate measure of quality.
Quality is not measured by the guaranteed analysis or by a protein percentage. Quality is better examined by looking at how efficiently and effectively nutrients are delivered to the animal. There is an important concept in formulating and testing food that is often overlooked—digestibility.
What Is Digestibility?
Digestibility is the measure of how efficiently nutrients are absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream and ultimately utilized in the dog’s system. To maximize digestibility, the right ingredients must be combined in the right way and minimally processed. Linda Case, the author of “Dog Food Logic,” summarizes digestibility perfectly. “As one of the most basic measures of food quality, digestibility provides essential information that can help dog owners to select the best food for their dog,” Case says.
What Affects Digestibility?
Better ingredients result in better digestibility. One end of the quality spectrum includes ingredients like fresh meat and whole foods that are more bioavailable and more digestible. These ingredients are not overly processed and provide a multitude of nutritional benefits. On the other end of the quality spectrum are overly processed ingredients like chicken meal or fish meal. Although incredibly common in dog food, meat meals are highly processed meat substitutes with comparably low digestibility. They are included in recipes as an inexpensive way to raise protein levels in the guaranteed analysis. However, their digestibility rating is lower than the better, high-quality, fresh meat alternatives.
Digestibility is not just a marketing term. It is measured objectively through noninvasive, third-party feeding trials. Over a period of time, dogs fed a specific diet have their fecal matter analyzed for all the markers that measure protein digestibility. Science tells us what is and is not digestible.
With the proven long-term benefits of higher digestibility and the relative ease of objective test measures, you would think that digestibility reporting would be an industry norm. Unfortunately, for retailers and consumers alike, it’s not. Without a regulatory requirement, most companies do not know or will not share their digestibility rating.
Who Reports Their Digestibility?
BIXBI is not like most companies. Because we believe in what digestibility tells about food, we are committed to not only testing all of our recipes, but also making those results available. Third-party tests show BIXBI RAWBBLE is exceptional dog food. Its minimally processed USDA human-grade fresh meat, cooked only once, delivers more bioavailable nutrients than highly processed ingredients like rendered meal powders. RAWBBLE dry recipes average 90 percent protein digestibility across the line, while our Freeze-Dried recipes average 95 percent. Our results on paper and in people’s homes are proof positive that ingredients, formulations and processing all matter. Fresh meat matters.