Dog Products
dried food reimagined

Dried Food Re-Imagined: How Oven Baked Food Is Shaking up the Dog Food Market

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Discover how oven-baked dog food is revolutionising the pet industry! Explore the innovative process behind dried food reimagined, and its impact on the market with THE PACK.
a husky with his tongue out against green leafy background


Alt-protein pet food brand, THE PACK recently launched their Oven Baked Crunchy Feast, which is the first oven-baked plant-based dried dog food of its kind in Europe. You may be thinking, “But isn’t all dog food oven baked?” and to some extent that’s true, however, there are alternative methods of cooking that have a huge impact on the palatability (taste) and nutrient availability of dog food.

THE PACK’s mission is to do things differently and lead the way in innovation to transform the traditional pet food industry. Their aim is to make truly delicious dog food that not only tastes amazing but is packed with functional ingredients to support health. All while taking a bit out of climate change through their low CO2e products and production processes. In fact, THE PACK celebrated becoming Europe’s first plant-based pet food brand to become a
Certified B-Corporation.

How is dried dog food usually made?

Did you know that around 95% of dried dog food (kibble) is extruded? You may be wondering what this means and what is the difference to THE PACK’s oven-baked process of cooking their dried food.

Extruded cooking is when the ingredients are subjected to high heat and extreme pressure, including a lot of steam. Otherwise known as the ‘high-temperature short time’ (HTST) extrusion method, the ingredients are heated to temperatures between 110ºC to 150ºC for between 60-270 seconds.

As a result of this process, the majority of natural flavours are lost meaning that brands spray on a palatant (usually made of unhealthy meat-based fats and oils) after cooking to ensure the food is masked with flavour to tempt dogs to eat it. This is why most kibble has a greasy feel and texture to it.

What does the extruded cooking process do to the ingredients?

This high-temperature processing has a particular impact on non-heat stable vitamins, effectively reducing the levels of vitamins requiring dog food manufacturers to add back excess vitamins to ensure your dog gets the vitamins they require. Those most affected vitamins are the B group vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. While minerals are less affected by heat it can affect bioavailability, meaning that your dog may not be receiving as much of the mineral as they should be for their optimum nutrition and health.

Essential fatty acids, including the very important, and healthful, Omega 3 have been shown to be negatively affected by increased processing temperatures.

Probiotics, which are known to improve a dog’s gut microbiome are also shown to be highly heat sensitive and their efficacy in optimising your dog’s gut microbiome, and overall health, is greatly degraded by high-temperature processing.

Finally, protein, which is the very foundation of your diet and your dogs is also affected by the processing temperature. Increasing heat denatures protein and results in the triggering of a chemical process, the Maillard reaction – the browning process of meat and other foods caused by heat. This leads to the formation of numerous toxic compounds including acrylamide and AGE's, both of which have been linked to a multitude of different disease states – including cancer, in people and dogs.

the pack promo image showing 3 bags of dog food against a white background

What does extruded cooking mean from an environmental perspective?

From an environmental perspective high-temperature cooking requires a considerable input of water (in the form of steam) as part of the process. This together with the increased levels of energy required to generate the high heat levels results in greater greenhouse gas emissions, significantly adding to the environmental impact your dog’s food has.

How does THE PACK’s Oven Baked Dried Food differ from extruded kibble?

THE PACK cook their dried food at temperatures no higher than 80c and for a longer period of time. By slow cooking at much lower temperatures for a longer period of time, their premium functional ingredients and superfoods maintain their essential nutrients and flavours to outstanding levels. Not only does the finished product have a higher nutritional value compared to extruded kibble dog food, but it also maintains the natural smells and flavours of these drool-inducing ingredients.

That makes THE PACK a far tastier option for your dog than bland, flavourless extruded kibble! THE PACK do not need to spray palatants on their food like most of the dried food on the market, because the slow baking process keeps all the tastiness of those natural ingredients – in fact, their early studies have confirmed that dogs prefer THE PACK’s dry food to leading meat-based kibble. THE PACK carried out two pan taste tests through an independent tester, these tests gave dogs the free choice of choosing between two bowls of food and measured a variety of factors such as how much of the food each dog chose to eat. The test comprised of the Oven Baked Crunchy Feast and a leading premium brand’s chicken dried food, the results were incredible, with dogs actively choosing to eat 280% more of THE PACK than the leading meat-based brand. This is a true testament to the high palatability of the product and is a big statement for plant-based pet food, showing that dogs prefer it to meat!

How does Oven Baked Dried Food affect digestibility?

THE PACK carried in-vitro tests (which mimic the digestive tracts of dogs) to assess the digestibility of their food and the results came in at over 93%. Depending on the ingredients used and the extrusion process, kibble protein digestibility usually ranges from 64 to 91%, which shows how the cooking process used by THE PACK has really enabled an outstanding level of nutrient availability. This is one of the most important factors to look at when feeding your dog, as this means they digest much more of the proteins, nutrients, vitamins etc rather than pooping them out.

the pack infographic providing statistics on a lilac background

What exactly is in THE PACK’s dry food?

If you’ve tried THE PACK’s wet food then you are used to the myriad of premium plant-powered superfoods in their recipes, so you won’t be disappointed when it comes to their dried food! They’ve packed in a variety of nutritious and functional plant-based ingredients, including dried sweet potato, pumpkin, apple, green peas and other vegetables like spinach, tomato and beetroot, dried fruits like cranberry and blueberry, plus botanicals and herbs, peanut butter, naked oats and olive oil. Plus functional ingredients like alfalfa, olive oil, seaweed, turmeric and camomile.

To spotlight just a few of these ingredients, sweet potato is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A for dogs, promoting healthy skin, coat, eyes, nerves and muscles, as well as being a rich source of vitamins C, B6, potassium, calcium and iron. With beta carotene, vitamin E, iron and folate, pumpkin strengthens your dog’s immune system, warding off germs and speeding up healing. Green peas supply essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre to your hound, the protein punch boosting energy levels while being gentle on the digestive system. They also include algae oil, a powerful source of Omega-3 fatty acids which keep your dog’s skin supple and their coat shiny.

What other benefits will THE PACK’s dry food give your dog?

A packet of THE PACK’s baked food contains five major sources of plant protein, supplying no less than 25g of protein per 100g. To put that in context, adult dogs need 18-25% protein to maintain their health, which means we’re delivering an extremely generous dose. But what’s most important is the quality of that protein and, as we’ve seen, THE PACK put the emphasis on the very best natural ingredients. Crafted with an expert pet food technologist and nutritionist, their oven-baked kibble is 100% nutritionally complete.

THE PACK’s use of plant-protein and plant-based ingredients is beneficial to pet parents who are looking for dog food for dogs with sensitive stomachs, dogs with animal-based protein allergies or dogs with conditions such as IBD, where they require a novel protein dog food. In fact,
studies found that the most common food allergens in dogs are animal-based proteins, especially those from dairy, beef, chicken, chicken eggs, soy, or wheat gluten. Each time a pet eats food containing these substances, the antibodies react with the antigens, and symptoms occur.

So, you will be relieved to see that THE PACK’s protein sources are all allergen-friendly, as they do not use soy protein which is commonly used by other plant-based dog food brands as it is a lower-cost protein.

The other key thing with protein is how digestible it is. There’s no point in supplying lots of great amino acids if your dogs can’t break them down and use them within their bodies. The Vet Times states that the digestibility of dry matter in dog foods should be more than 80% and having tested their kibble carefully in the lab (cruelty-free, of course) they found that the digestibility of their dried food protein is over 93%. That means your dog is absorbing more protein, nutrients, and essential fatty acids than most of those hounds eating meaty kibble.

Finally, their food also supports a healthy microbiome as it includes a sprinkle of pre- and post-biotics, meaning your dog’s digestion will be healthier than ever. Supporting a thriving gut, THE PACK’s kibble acts like a multivitamin for your dog's immune system, digestive health and well-being. You’ll see this reflected in healthy stools, a waggier tail (our food helps maintain vitality) and livelier, more playful pups. Their food also supports joints for more comfortable walks and, best of all, a more active and longer life.

a collage image of dogs sitting next to the pack dog food

Fancy switching your dog over to THE PACK?

You can try THE PACK’s Oven Baked Crunchy Feast in a 100g sample size or go all in and stock up with their 5kg bag.

If you want to try their sample size we recommend you use code
FREESHIPPING to get free delivery, meaning you can try this groundbreaking food for just £2.99!

Or you can get 30% off their 5kg bag with code
WAGGEL30, meaning you can save £15 and purchase the 5kg size for just £34.99, giving your dog week after week of delicious, nutritious meals to chomp on.

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