How has dog food changed?

Have you ever wondered how we went from feeding our dogs human food to dry biscuits? Keep reading to find out…

Kitchen scraps and raw meat

Early dog diets were a bit of a mix and very much depended on what family they lived with and if they had a job to do. Many societies fed their pups leftover bread and kitchen scraps, with meat and bones. Working dogs were fed lard and grains to keep their energy up, and horse meat was also a popular source of dog food. 

Dog biscuits 

Dog biscuits came about when James Spratt, a businessman from Ohio, visited London in the 1860’s and saw street dogs flock to the docks where leftover sailors biscuits had been thrown down.

Spratt knew these biscuits were simple to make, had a very long shelf life and were easy to store, so he was inspired to make his own. Spratts biscuits were made from a mixture of wheat, vegetables, beetroot and beef blood.

This was the first type to be introduced to the market and it was very popular – he named them “Patented meat Fibrine Dog cake”. 

Tinned food

The first “tinned” dog food was introduced to the world in 1922. Made from horse meat, the food was called Ken-L Ration and was so popular they started farming horses specifically for tinned dog food. Ken-L Ration was advertised on the radio during popular family shows. 


During the war, metals became scarce and so the production of tinned dog food took a downturn, and meat was rationed. Dog biscuits rose again in popularity.

After WWII the pet food industry shifted to using more meat by-products as this was a really economical and very convenient way to feed the canine population. Interestingly, the number one benefit of this commercial pet food was how convenient it was (and not any health benefits to the dog!)


In 1965 the first dry “kibbles” were being produced, made through a process called extrusion.

Extrusion is still used today to make kibbles. Ingredients are mixed together and ground into a dough, which is then pushed through the extruder and heated under pressure. Temperatures can reach up to 200 degrees Celsius.

These kibbles grew in popularity and companies started making ailment-specific diets. By the 1990’s dog food included diets based on the breed and activity level of the dog.


The way we feed dogs in 2020 is shifting – dog owners are searching for food that is high quality and uses natural (and recognisable) ingredients. In general people are looking for products that are environmentally friendly and will benefit their dog. 

Different Dog

We use all human grade ingredients- there is nothing in our kitchen that our chefs wouldn’t eat themselves. Our gentle cooking process means the nutrients in the food are preserved and our packing is all recyclable/compostable. 

Visit to find out more.

When deciding what to feed your dog it’s so important to read the label, and understand what ingredients are being used. Our Vet Alison will be blogging about this in the coming weeks to give you more information about pet food labelling and what to look out for.

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Different Dog exists to improve the lives of dogs through freshly, hand-cooked food. Different Dog's recipes are nutritionally balanced by their vet and pet nutritionist for optimum canine health. They have expanded their production facilities and market presence since 2018 to reach more dog families across the UK.

It is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

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