Simple Summary The majority of pet food currently on the market is represented by dry food thanks to its practicality and long shelf life. Dry pet food production consists of several processes that can have different effects on nutrient bioavailability and digestibility. The aim of this study was to analyze the nutritional quality of three different chicken-based formulations, consisting of fresh meats, meat meals, or a mix of these two from a protein, lipid, and in vitro digestibility point of view. The results show that the fresh chicken-meat-based formulation appears to be the preferable choice when proteins, lipids, and in vitro digestibility are taken into account. Moreover, the soluble protein content estimated by the Bradford assay is found to correlate well with the total protein content and in vitro digestibility. Dry pet food, made of fresh meats and especially meat meals, represents one of the main types of complete food available on the market by virtue of its practicality and long shelf life. The kibble production process includes mixed thermal and mechanical treatments that help to improve the palatability and durability of the final product but may have undesirable effects on nutrient bioavailability and digestibility. An analysis of the protein and lipid content of different dry pet food formulations, together with an in vitro digestibility analysis, can reveal which formulation can provide a more nourishing diet for pets. In this study, a quantitative and qualitative analysis was performed on three different formulations of chicken-based dry pet food, consisting of fresh meats, meat meals, or a mix of these two. The soluble protein concentration was determined by the Bradford assay, while the crude protein content was assessed through the Kjeldahl method. Quadrupole time-of-flight liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (Q-TOF LC/MS) was used to analyze the amino acid (AA) and lipid compositions. Finally, a gastric and small intestinal digestion simulation was used to determine the in vitro digestibility. The results show that dry pet food consisting only of chicken fresh meats has the highest content of soluble protein; it also contains more Essential AAs, Branched-Chain AAs, and Taurine, as well as a greater quantity of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. In addition, its in vitro digestibility was the highest, exceeding 90% of its dry weight, in agreement with the soluble protein content. These findings thus make the fresh-meat-based formulation a preferable choice as dry pet food.
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