You’ve heard this before – “You are what you eat.” The same goes for your dog.
So, how’d you like to be a, “meat by-product?” Well, of course you wouldn’t, it just sounds nasty, doesn’t it?
But what is this whole “by-product” business all about?
Unfortunately, that’s just it — business. By-products are generally defined as animal parts that are not fit for human consumption, such as bones, organs, blood, fatty tissue and intestines. So, in essence, someone got the great idea to process all the leftover garbage in the meatpacking plant and call it, “Dog Food.”
And, if that alone wasn’t bad enough, the offal is processed in varying degrees of nauseating. For example, while “chicken by-product” may encompass heads, necks, feet and intestines, at the very least, all the parts must come from chicken. The same is true for lamb by-products, beef by-products, etc.
The “meat” umbrella, however, invites a whole other ballgame.
A closer look there can unearth zoo animals, road kill, and so-called, “4-D livestock” (dead, diseased, disabled and dying). It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. Much to our relief, it does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. Meat byproducts are not meat. They can include almost any part of the animal other than meat. Because any mammal can be used, cheaper meats like horse, pig, or goat are often included.
Similarly, “poultry by-products” should not be confused with “chicken by-products.” The origin can be any fowl (turkeys, ducks, geese, buzzards, etc.), instead of a single source, like chicken.
Mmmmm, sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?
Yes, navigating the dog food label ingredients lists can be a slippery excursion. Commercial-brand dog foods are not beholden to the same FDA labeling requirements as people foods, but federal standards are governed by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Additionally, some states also enforce their own labeling regulations, many adopting model pet food regulations established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Still, the information provided tends to be vague and often outright misleading.
Would you believe “Lamb & Rice Dog Food” and “Lamb & Rice Dinner For Dogs” denote two entirely different ingredient lists, and very distinctive applicable regulations pertaining to their listings? Did you know, under the “Flavor Rule” governing dog food ingredient lists, “Beef Flavor Dog Food” might not necessarily contain any beef?
Perhaps you are thinking the safe route would be to spend a little more and get your brand’s “premium,” “super-premium,” “ultra-premium” or “gourmet” offerings. It might surprise you to learn that products labeled as such may not mean what you’ve been lead to think, because there is no legal requirement.
Learning to decipher dog food labels can be considered an art form unto itself. For the health of your dog, learn the basic tools you need to master that art form.
Do you know how to read the ingredients listings on commercial dog food products. This is the simplest skill for you to learn to make a drastic change to the health of your dog and every caring dog owner should know how.