Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: Meat
We now move to the letter “M” in our ingredient A to Z series and are featuring “Meat” as our ingredient of the day.
What is meat?
Seems like a trick question, doesn’t it? According to dictionary.com, the definition of meat is: the flesh of animals as used for food. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which establishes dog and cat food nutritional guidelines, meat is defined as the “clean flesh of slaughtered mammals and is limited to…the striate muscle…with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh.”
Based on either of these definitions, it is not clear what protein source that “meat” is derived from. Which is the problem!
Common names for meat
The most common dog food name variations for meat include meat meal and meat by-product, both of which are more processed forms of meat.
Why is meat included in dog food?
Meat is a cheap protein source that is include in lower quality dog food. Because it is not a specific protein, manufacturers can pick and choose the cheapest and lowest quality protein scraps available. We highly recommend that you choose a food with a named protein (like beef, pork, salmon) and avoid foods that use generic proteins like meat, poultry, or fish.
Is meat a commonly used ingredient in dog food?
Unfortunately, yes, meat is a very common dog food ingredient. We found meat (including meat meal and meat byproduct) in 15% of all dog foods in our database.
Common benefits or risks of meat
As we have posted about in the past, dogs are descendants of the carnivore Wolf and thus, they thrive on a diet high in animal protein and fats. Although non-specific, meat is a rich source in protein and fat.
There are several risks to using a food that includes “meat” as its protein source. First of all, it implies a lower quality ingredient. If the manufacturer can’t be more specific, it raises a huge red flag warning. Second, without a named protein source, you have no way to know if a food is appropriate for your dog if they have allergies or other medical issues.
Miscellaneous facts about meat
The word meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general.
Meat generally refers to the flesh of mammals and not poultry or fish flesh.
Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level (new!)
Because meat is a nondescript ingredient and the pet owner can not discern the meat source, we consider meat to be an ingredient to avoid. Hence, we award it the Slimdoggy frown.
Sources and further reading