Animal By-Products – What Exactly Are They?

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dog holding bowl in mouth wanting no by-products in his food

Since this is my first installation of my blog, “Did you know?” I felt that the topic should be of the upmost importance.  This will be the most serious one that I will ever write, but about a topic that few people know much about – By-Products.  I’m not expecting everyone to break out a pan and start cooking dinner for Fido, but hopefully when you go to buy your next bag of dog food you’ll take a good look at the ingredient label.  Pet food is one instance where quality and price have a direct correlation.

We’ve been in business for over 12 years now and the most common concern amongst pet owners is food allergies.  In many cases when we ask what their dog is allergic to, they respond with, “What isn’t he allergic to!”  Could it be what’s in his food?  You be the judge.

Prior to 1990, pet food ingredients were considered open game – just about anything was considered acceptable.  However, as regulations have changed, so have pet food ingredient labels – notice I said labels, not necessarily the actual ingredients.

The facts I am sharing with you came from Dog Food Advisor – “The Truth About Animal By-Products in Dog Food.  Please go on-line to read the article in its entirety.

What are animal by-products?  Technically, they are what’s left of a slaughtered animal after the parts intended for human consumption have been removed.  This meat processing scrap, known as offal, is considered inedible by many cultures and includes waste material like: feet, backs, livers, lungs, heads, brains, spleen, frames, kidneys, stomachs intestines, undeveloped eggs.  What makes some by-products edible while others are not isn’t just a matter of what they are, but how they’re handled after slaughter.  For example, giblets that are not refrigerated for up to 24 hours cannot be sold for human consumption – but they can still be legally used for making pet food.  Dead-on-arrival animals and condemned parts that are inedible or unfit for human consumption can still be used for pet food.

Many inedible products are rendered into dry pet food – a stew is made, it’s overcooked, water is evaporated from it, fat is skimmed and the remaining residue is baked.

You will notice that on the ingredient label that the source of the by-product is usually listed:  Chicken by-product meal; Turkey 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.  You should never feed your pet generic by-product meals that do not identify the source of the meat – these can contain road kill, dead zoo animals, dead on arrival poultry, diseased and dying livestock and euthanized pets from animal shelters.

I’m sure you can guess that the sole reason for use of these by-products is simply that they are cheaper than human edible quality proteins.  So, you should keep in mind, the presence of by-products is considered a reliable clue that the food is made with cheaper ingredients.

The bottom line:  Never pay top dollar for any dog food that lists animal by-products on it’s label and most importantly, never buy any dog food containing anonymous animal by-products that a manufacturer refuses to clearly identify.

After reading my blog, should you still feel that your pet is allergic to chicken, turkey or beef, or even wheat for that matter, I suggest you speak to your veterinarian or holistic veterinarian regarding having allergy testing done.  It may just be an unfortunate ingredient in the food.  My personal suggestion is the next time you’re eating stew and you feel those sad,
I’m so deprived” eyes staring at you, give him some – it’ll make you both feel all warm and tingly inside!!

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