Feed Your Dog This Not That: Protein Part 2

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I have previously discussed protein and how specific, named proteins (e.g. Chicken) should be fed to a dog instead of non-specific proteins (e.g. Poultry).  Yet, there are more ways to scrutinize protein sources in dog foods besides this rule of thumb.


Feed this Not that_protein pt2

Proteins in dog food, whether specifically named proteins or non-specifically named proteins, can show up on the ingredient list in different ‘forms’.   The common forms of proteins in dog food are:

The whole food form (e.g. Turkey)

Meal form (e.g. Turkey Meal)

Byproduct form (e.g. Turkey Byproduct)


Each of these forms can certainly up the protein quantity in a dog food.  However, of the three choices, there is only one that should be the primary protein in a dog food recipe: the whole food form.  Whole food proteins are the proteins as they exist in nature and are not heavily processed.  Although they will contain a lot of water weight, they are still in their closest to natural form, and thus, best for a dog’s body, just as nature intended.


Meals are very commonly used in dog food recipes.  Meals are essentially proteins that have been processed, ground up, and dehydrated to become fine powdery substances.  While meals are very concentrated sources of protein (due to the fact that the water has been removed), this is not the natural state of the protein and thus, less optimal than the whole food counterpart.  To me, meal forms of protein are very much like protein powder that human athletes use to supplement their diet.  Perhaps they are OK as a supplemental ingredient, but they should not be considered the star of the recipe.  Thus, look for whole proteins at the top of the ingredient list and protein meals later on the list.


Byproducts are at the bottom of the list of protein sources.  Byproducts can often contain very nutritious parts of the animal, especially organ meats.  However, one cannot tell exactly what part of the animal is included in a byproduct ingredient which should raise a big red flag.  Worst of all is the infamous unnamed, byproduct meal.  Yes, these exist and are more common than you would think.  One example is “Poultry Byproduct Meal”.  This is not something that I would want to feed my dog.


Feed Your Dog This, Not That


Feed This Not That
Turkey Turkey meal
Beef Beef byproducts
Pork Meat byproduct meal
Salmon Fish meal
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  1. You are so right. Turkey is turkey, not turkey meal. I don’t think humans would be eating food made with meat byproducts or fish meal!
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  2. Its quite remarkable that ‘meal’ is listed on so many ingredient lists. It certainly pays to read AND understand what those ingredients are and what they mean. As always, thanks for a poignant post. 🙂

  3. I remember I stopped feeding my dog canned food with “meat by-products” many, many years ago because in fact, the meat by-product was horse meat.
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  4. We say the by products are feets and beaks
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