Friday, June 2, 2017

Food Friday: Rolled Dog Food

Yes, dog food comes in roll form. I've shared several different brands recently, and now it's time to discuss the whole concept of dog food rolls. Why do they exist? What are they good for? Are some better than others?

What's in a Roll?

Grain-free dog food roll
Grain-free dog food roll
While several dog food companies have recently added food rolls to their product lineup, dog food rolls have been around for at least 15 years. The recipes vary quite a bit between brands, but the basic formulation is the same. These are all shelf-stable salami-like products that need to be refrigerated after opening.

All complete and balanced dog food rolls that I've encountered so far have had ingredients lists that start with meat, followed by some type of flour. The grain-inclusive ones usually have rice flour and/or pea flour. The grain-free rolls just have pea flour. 

Surprisingly, all the dog food rolls I've encountered also contain both eggs and added sugar. Some also have molasses, broth, and potato starch. Eggs and sugar appear to be essential though, I've guessing they hep the roll hold its shape or something.

To Grain or Not to Grain

The biggest difference between a grain-free food roll and a grain-inclusive roll is the texture. The ones made with rice flour tend to hold their shape really nicely. They don't crumble easily, and are easy to cut into super tiny cubes for training treats. They don't tend to go moldy very quickly, but they do dry out within a few days of being cut off the roll, even when sealed in an airtight container. 

Grain-free rolls tend to be more squishy and less firm. It's tough to cut cleanly through a roll without a very sharp knife, and it tends to crumble when chopped very small. The grain-free stuff seems to hold more moisture, so it doesn't dry out and go hard. Instead it gets moldy. I had half an uncut roll go moldy in the fridge within a week. Not even gonna talk about when happens when it gets forgotten in a bait bag or pocket.

Let's Roll!

The added sugar means all dog food rolls are high in carbohydrates, so I wouldn't recommend making them a major staple of a dog's diet. They also aren't terribly economical compared to kibble and canned food. They make excellent shelf-stable convenience food, and also great toppers for kibble. I use them primarily for training treats. 

Natural Balance has been making their grain-inclusive complete and balanced dog food rolls since before I got Brisbane in 2005. Redbarn and Blue Buffalo both offer grain-inclusive and grain-free versions of their food rolls. Walmart's Pure Balance brand has grain-free rolls. It's worth noting that these are all complete and balanced dog foods. There are meat rolls with no eggs and no sugar added, like Happy Howie's, but these are intended to be used only as treats.

Do you know of any dog food rolls that I didn't mention here? Please share them in the comments!

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