How do you choose the best tasty looking dog food rolls you can find in the fridge section of most supermarkets & some pet stores? Are they good, bad or just plain ugly? What do you need to know to help you pick the best one for your doggo? Now these sausage-shaped loaves look great, are easy to store & cut & serve and in a lot of cases can be a cheaper option than pre-made frozen complete & balanced meals, & in many cases cheaper than many brands of kibble. If you’re on a budget or like these types of products – let’s get slicing and dicing!
These types of dog food rolls appeal to may people as they are neat, easy, & don’t have a strong smell, especially for those people who don’t like to handle raw meat. They slice up and are pretty much fuss-free. A lot of people do not know, as a vital step in the processing of these big sausage-shaped rolls, the ingredients are pumped into the plastic ‘skins’, sealed & then cooked in a hot water bath. This ensures they hold shape when you peel back the plastic and slice it into bite-sized cubes. So, they are not, despite popular thinking raw at all, they are cooked & include gelling agents to hold them together. Hmmmm, let’s face it seems a far better option than dried kibble. But are they? So, let’s get into it - What should you look for when choosing a product for your doggos dinner? How do you choose the best supermarket dog food rolls?
Dog Food Roll Top Tip #1
Always choose a Brand that is Australian-made, & uses Australian-sourced ingredients. What we do not want is inferior imported ingredients that slip through our country's import rules as they are labelled ‘pet food’ & therefore not subject to our stringent local food laws.
Dog Food Roll Top Tip #2
What is the healthiest dog food roll? Check that ingredient listing carefully, they are listed by law in order of most to least. The top 4 or 5 ingredients make up 99% of what's in that roll. Everything after number five makes up often less than 1%. A trick that the marketing companies do is to label a product for example 'Chicken with Rice Roll', & when you check out those ingredients you read Beef and/or Pork and/or Chicken. There might be chicken in the roll, but it’s a bit of a lucky dip as to which meat they used. Then it's followed up with Soybean Meal and Wheat Bran. Rice comes in at number 7 on the list. Why? Soybean Meal & Wheat Bran are byproducts of the human food chain & are super cheap, basically they are rubbish. Much cheaper than actual whole rice! Misleading packaging is very common!
Dog Food Roll Top Tip #3
Look at the Nutrition Panel as well as the ingredient listing to pick the healthiest dog food roll. You want a high protein percentage, & by that I mean at least 10% Crude Protein, the higher the better, a low Crude Fat percentage, 3% to 5% (unless it’s a Puppy formula), & a Crude Fibre percentage of around 2% for your adult dogs. Puppies need higher percentages of fat, calcium & protein to enable their super fast growth rates, so always go with a product formulated for puppies for dogs under 12 months of age.
Dog Food Roll Top Tip #4
Now, this is where it gets tricky. If you can find one, choose a product that offers SINGLE Protein sources, for example choose a mix that contains Beef Meat, Beef Offal, & Beef Bones.
One animal source. If you choose a product that’s a mix for example containing Beef Meat, Pork Offal & Chicken frames you will never be able to tell if your dog reacts to one of the protein sources. To date, It’s actually quite hard to find a product here in Australia like these that offers a single protein mix, particularly in the supermarket ranges. They usually are made up of a couple, if not more animal sources like chicken & salmon or Kangaroo & Lamb with more often than not chicken carcasses used to make up the bone matter requirement.
It surprised me when doing some research to see many of these rolls contained a list of animal proteins, & they all said they MAY contain, Beef/and/Or Pork/and of/Chicken/and or Kangaroo. Basically, every one of these rolls possibly contains whatever the manufacturer could get their hands on for that batch. This is where I hear stories of people trucking along for months on a single product from a single brand, & then, Bang! out of the blue, their doggo gets a reaction to that exact same product. The owners would never be able to tell which protein source was actually causing their dogs upset. Take out of this tip: avoid all products that list their meat ingredients this way cause you’ll never know what you are really feeding your dog, & for the most part, they are the lowest quality ingredients! Think of bits left over after butchering carcasses for human consumption. I call them lips & arseholes, because, literally, that's what they are!
Top Tip # 5
As a legal requirement ingredients MUST be listed from most to least that are included in the mix. A really good rule to remember is the first 5 ingredients will make up 98% to 99% of the overall mix, every ingredient listed after these 5 is literally so minute they may are well not be there! The addition of synthetic vitamins & minerals falls here, as there only needs to be tiny amounts included to meet the baseline AFFCO requirements for dog food to be fit for purpose. That is, at the bare minimum keep your dog alive!
Also, keep an eye out for the gelling agents used to hold these cooked rolls together so you can slice nice neat portions. It’s interesting to note that it’s not actually a legal requirement to list them. No idea why, it’s just unfortunately another example of crappy pet food labelling regulation! The most common ones used are seed extracts such as guar gum or seaweed extracts like alginate or carrageenan. The jury is out if they are bad or good for your dog so I can’t comment either way, unfortunately!
Top Tip #6
Avoid all products containing Carbohydrates, Grains or Starches like Tapioca. Tapioca, Potato Starch, Corn Meal, Pea Protein, & Chickpea flour all fall into this category so do not fall into the trap of believing the ‘grain-free’ labelling on the package. These all behave the same in your dogs' digestive system & should be avoided at all costs. Avoid!
Top Tip #7
A lot of these fresh rolls contain some plant matter like carrots peas & other vegetables. This is great. In theory. BUT. Uncooked vegetable matter on a cellular level is very hard, if not impossible for your dog to digest & extract the vitamins and minerals from. If the veggies are not lightly cooked they simply pass through the dog's digestive system & unfortunately provide no nutritional benefit whatsoever and are simply a cheap filler to reduce the amount of actual meat in the products & up the protein percentage. A sneaky sneaky trick is the inclusion of these veggies. These are all high in PLANT protein & are cheap in comparison to real meats. These up the Protein percentage in the nutrition panel breakdown, it’s cheaper to include Peas than actual meat! If your ingredient panel states Meat and the next one on the list is Peas, you can be sure that it will be almost a 50/50 ratio of that meat & those peas. You are paying a lot for peas & not getting much meat at all!
So, armed with these seven things to look for when picking your fresh sausage meal mixes, you can make more informed choices when choosing foods for your four-legged family members.
Now, would I pick these rolls for my dogs' dinners? No, nope none of the products I have spent quality time at the supermarket checking out even come close to what I choose to feed my babies. The ones stocked in the Pet store are definitely better quality, but obviously more expensive. That being said, if I have a choice of a bag of kibble, any brand, or any price point, I’d pick one of these pet store sausage loaves over them. For the price they are superior. Hands down!