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Understanding the “meat” in your dog’s food

Have you ever read through the ingredients in your dog food and noticed an ingredient called “meat meal”? Many people see these ingredients and automatically assume that they are low-quality ingredients—less healthy than real, whole meat. But is that actually true? In many cases, the truth is the exact opposite: that a high-quality meat meal can be MORE nutritious than whole meat.


It is true to assume that whole meat is the best source of protein there is. But the weight of the meat in your dog food is determined when it is added to the formulation which includes water weight. Let’s use chicken as an example.  A whole chicken contains 70% water and just 18% protein.


However if the chicken is rendered down to form chicken meal, by weight it contains just 10% water and 65% protein. That’s 300% more protein than whole meat.


Some varieties of meat meal are extremely high-quality, giving your dog a dense source of nutritious, natural protein. Other types of meat meal are made up of waste materials including animal heads, hooves, bones, and other waste that you would NOT want your dog to eat. In other words, meat meal can only be as healthy as the ingredients that were used to make it.


What Kinds Of Meat Meal Should You Look For (And Which Should You Avoid)?

 “Meat meal” is unspecific and does not clearly identify the type of animal it’s made from. This meal is usually of low-quality. Additionally, any meat meal with the words “by-product” in the name is also a bad choice.


Make sure to avoid these meat meals in your dog food:

  •  “Animal meal” or “Animal by-product meal”

  •  “Meat meal” or “Meat by-product meal”

  •  “Chicken by-product meal”

  •  “Meat and bone meal”


So what should you be looking for? Just the opposite - : any meat meal that CLEARLY identifies the “source”, that is, the type of animal it comes from. This will assure you of a healthy, high-quality dog food.

Make certain the “source” of the meat meal in your dog’s food is specifically listed – examples:

  •  “Chicken meal”

  •  “Beef meal”

  •  “Bison meal”

  • ·“Venison meal”

  •  “Lamb meal”

  •  “Duck meal”

NOTE: If you see products on pet foods labeled as "flavored" such as "chicken flavored" or "beef flavored" you should completely avoid those products. There is no idea where the flavoring comes from.

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