Because we want to keep our dogs healthy and happy, we know that feeding them the best food available is high on our priority list as responsible pet parents. The ingredient list on the package is one of the first things we look at when picking a high-quality diet. But what is that stuff labeled “protein meal” or “meat meal,” and is it good for our dogs?
Dogs are designed by nature to eat protein from meat sources, not grains. A dog’s four sharp and pointed “cuspids,” what we call the canine teeth, are intended to grasp and hold food. When looking for the best diet for your pet, meat and a named meat meal, like beef, chicken meal or lamb meal, should be listed before any grains.Many veterinary nutritionists believe the high grain content of some manufactured pet foods is a primary contributor to the growing obesity and allergy problems in pets, so if grains are listed above an animal protein, you’re looking at a lower quality of food.
What is protein meal?
Protein meal is a dried end product of the dog food cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew – except that this stew is intentionally overcooked.With rendering, you start with a meat stew, cook away the water and bake the residue. In its simplest, purest form, protein meal is meat with the water and fat removed. The dried meat is then ground into small granules or powder for use in pet food. And you end up with a highly concentrated protein powder– or protein meal.
How nutritious is protein meal?
A high-quality grade protein meal can actually be a more abundant source of protein than the whole meat from which it was made. For example, whole chicken contains about 70 percent water and 18 percent protein. Yet after rendering, the resulting chicken protein meal contains just 10 percent water and a whopping 65 percent protein.That’s nearly four times more protein than the whole chicken.Fish meal contains 92 percent protein and pure beef meal is around 78 percent.
What are the health benefits of protein meal?
Pure protein meal, as opposed to a combined meat and bone meal or meat by-product meal, is a good source of the concentrated protein that is considered nutritionally excellent for your dog. Proteins are necessary for all aspects of growth and development and are very important in structural makeup and the immune system. In addition, they are burned as calories and can be stored and converted to fat.
Are there grades of protein meal?
Pure meat meal cannot contain blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, or stomach or rumen contents, except for amounts that may be unavoidably included during processing. It cannot contain any added extraneous substances, and may not contain any more than 14 percent of materials that are not easily digested. Also, no more than 11 percent of the crude protein in the meal can be ingredients the dog cannot digest at all, for example feathers, beaks, or hooves.
How do we recognize low-grade materials?
Avoid dog foods containing any meat meal that includes the words “ by-products” in its name and/or fails to identify the specific source animal. Some examples of inferior meat-based protein ingredients include meat meal, animal meal, chicken by-product meal, meat and bone meal, glandular meal, poultry meal, and blood meal.Notice the generic nature of those phrases.When you see components like these in any ingredients list, it’s a sign you’re probably looking at a lower quality dog food.