Fair Warning!    I am going to talk about really yucky stuff!    Not for the faint of heart

By Products

You know me. I always want to help and share info. Sometimes I want to sell you something……Well, today is just about imparting knowledge, so let’s get started. We don’t sell dog food at Top Dog Kitchen, only treats. Pure muscle dehydrated treats and even grass fed dog treats! But that is another blog topic.

I want you to do something for me. I want you to go to the pantry and  haul out your pet’s dog food. Turn the bag around and lets look at the ingredients. Ingredients are always listed in descending order of predominance by weight which means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. Look for the words “By-Products” or “Meal”. Do you see it?   

So what Exactly Are Animal By-Products?

Basically, animal by-products are what’s left of a slaughtered animal after the edible parts have been removed. They include the waste of meat processing not intended for human consumption. For example…

  • Feet
  • Backs
  • Livers
  • Lungs
  • Heads
  • Brains
  • Spleen
  • Frames
  • Kidneys
  • Stomachs
  • Intestines
  • Undeveloped eggs

YUCK! It gets worse! Have you ever heard of the 4 Ds? These are animals that are Dead, Dying, Disabled or Diseased. Guess where these guys go? You got it! Dog Food. Bad news is that they start off with really bad stuff and cook it (rendering) for quite a long time. This concentrates the protein. So a higher protein mush that cost less than real meat is a great combination for making dog good. For the manufactures anyway.  The rendering process destroys the bacteria, but it does not eliminate the endotoxins bacteria release when they die. These endotoxin, which can cause sickness and disease, are not tested for by pet food manufacturers.When all this comes to the rendering plant, it’s put in a huge vat and shredded.Then it’s cooked at 220 to 270 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes. After it cools, the grease is skimmed off the top. This is “animal fat.” The rest is pressed and dried. This is “meat and bone meal.”Dogs wouldn’t eat this stuff in the wild, so why will they eat it out of their bowls? Their noses are tricked by the smell of it. The smell of animal fats for dogs and fish oil for cats is sprayed on the dry, bland kibble bits to make them appetizing. These flavors usually come from rendered restaurant grease, animal fat, or other oils unfit for human consumption. Huge conglomerates use pet food companies as a cheap, and even profitable, way of disposing of the waste from their human food companies.

There are two ways to label these by products.

  • Named by-product meals
  • Generic by-product meals

Named by-product meals have one thing in common. They all clearly identify the source species of the by-products that was used to make the meal.

These common pet food ingredients can include…

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Turkey by-product meal
  • Poultry by-product meal
  • Beef by-product meal

And although named by-product meals may not be considered the highest quality ingredients, they can be considered acceptable by the manufacturers.

The One Type You Must Never Trust

On the other hand, generic by-product meals do not identify the source of the meat. Instead, they use vague and non-specific names like…

  • Meat meal
  • Meat and bone meal
  • Meat by-product meal
  • Animal by-product meal

What’s more, generic meat meals can also contain

  • Road kill
  • Dead zoo animals
  • Dead on arrival poultry (The 4 Ds)
  • Diseased and dying livestock
  • Euthanized pets from animal shelters

So, what to do? First, watch what you spend. Never pay top dollar for any dog food that lists animal by-products on its label. Do what you can. Some of us can cook for our dogs, others can’t. Knowing what you know now, try to pick the best choice. If you can afford it, chicken meat and organs such as hearts or gizzards and Jack Mackerel make excellent proteins.  Add fresh veggies. Or, if you can’t just read the label and get the best you can.