Dogs Ask – What is in This Dog Food?

What's In This Dog Food?Today we’ll take a look at a few ingredients, that to some dog parents might seem to be the same thing, but in reality are very different as you will soon see.

First I will list the ingredients as you would see them listed on your dog food bag, then I’ll explain what they are, but before we do that let’s talk about the difference between meat Meal and regular meat found in dog food.

Take for example chicken vs chicken meal…

Wikipedia says :Chicken meal is ground up chicken meat that has been dried to a moisture level of 10%. The protein content is 65% and the fat level is 12%. Regular chicken contains about 70% water with 18% protein and 5% fat.

So what does that tell us?  It tells us a few things, one being that if the first ingredient in your dog food formula is regular chicken, that no matter how good that looks, it is at least 70% water, and after the dry dog food is processed it would not really be the first ingredient by weight.

It also tells us that the chicken meal is only 10% water and has a much higher protein and fat content levels than regular chicken, therefore when it is listed as the first ingredient, you have more of a chance that chicken is a major ingredient in the formula… notice I said more of a chance, because there are other factors.

Now let’s get back to the comparisons of…

  1. chicken meal
  2. Poultry by-product meal
  3. chicken by product meal

We already talked about chicken meal above, so go back and read that again.

Here is the definition of Poultry by-product meal…

Poultry by-products consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of slaughtered poultry carcass, including necks, beak, feet undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, “except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practice.

and now chicken by-product meal…

chicken by-product meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.

So the only read difference between chicken by-product meal and Poultry by-product meal is that the poultry by-product can consist of chickens, turkey and even duck, leftovers after the good meat is used for human foods, whereas the chicken by-product would be the left overs from just chickens.

The major issue with any by-product is there is no consistency in quality… each batch will be different depending on the available slop used… ooops did I say slop out load?

So to re-cap… look for a named meat (Chicken, Turkey, beef, lamb so on and so on) in the meal form as you first ingredient and more than one would be a great indication that the formula is meat based. It is good to see named meats (not meal) listed, but understand that they are up to 85% water before the food is processed so they are not a good indication that the formula is meat based, and can actually be listed first to mislead the dog parent.

Also if you see any by-products listed, remember there is no quality consistence from one batch to the next, so the fact that your starting out with a low quality by-product to begin with, and then you have no idea how low the quality could get between batches…. just  make it easy!  If the dog food bag lists a by-product of ANY kind… move on to the next brand!