Do you have a dog? If so, you're probably very familiar with dog food. Even if you don't have a dog of your own, you probably have a friend or family member who has a dog. Have you ever helped feed a dog?

What types of food do dogs like? Some dogs may prefer crunchy dry food, while others might rather have the soft moist food that comes in a can. Of course, most dogs probably like the food you eat, too!

But what exactly is in that crunchy dry dog food that most dogs seem to like so much? Of course, it depends somewhat on the particular brand and flavor of food you choose. Let's take a closer look at what goes into dog food and how it's made.

Dog food is big business. In the United States alone, dog owners spend nearly $9 billion on dog food each year. That consists of about 7 million tons of food from over 300 manufacturers. That's a lot of kibble!

While the exact composition of dog food varies widely from one manufacturer to another, dog food generally is made up of meats, meat byproducts, cereals, grains, vitamins, and minerals. Modern dog foods got their start as a dry, biscuit-like food created in England in the 1860s.

If you've ever seen the dog food aisle in a local supermarket, you probably already know there's an incredible number and variety of dog foods for owners to choose from. Many companies make special foods for dogs of certain ages (puppies or older dogs, for example), as well as food targeted at dogs with certain lifestyles or sizes (big dogs or active dogs, for example).

Which dog food should an owner choose? Many factors go into making a good decision. If you have questions about what type of food to feed your dog, consult your local veterinarian.

Some people choose the cheapest possible food in order to save money. Others might choose a specialty food formulated for dogs of a particular age, size, or lifestyle. Still others may base their decision on the nutritious ingredients included in the food. Some dog foods contain more of the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that dogs need.

Dog food manufacturers take the basic ingredients — byproducts of meat, poultry, and seafood, along with feed grains and soybean meal — and grind them, cook them, and shape them into the food you see when you open a bag of dog food. Vitamins and minerals are usually added as supplements after processing.

Dry and moist dog foods often contain similar ingredients. The main difference between the two is the amount of moisture in the food. Moist dog foods are 70-80% moisture, while dry dog foods are usually less than 10% moisture.

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