The problem with by-products in pet food

The majority of dried pet food brands available on the market contain ingredients labelled “by products”. They may be labelled as chicken, poultry, lamb or meat.

Looks harmless enough, but that’s not the full story. Depending on what type of by-product they are, they will not be doing your pet much good…and they may even be harmful.

If the by-product is from a specified type of animal – chicken, poultry – etc then the result is not as bad as it could be. The petfood industry’s standard definition of chicken by-product, for example, is:

“the non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered chickens such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice”

In other words, all of the waste unfit for human consumption.

However, if the animal is not specified, the by-product could contain almost anything. The industry standard definition of “meat by-product” is:

“the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.”

In a word, by-products are simply slaughterhouse waste. So why do petfood companies use them?

  • Firstly they’re cheap. As they really are pure waste products, unfit for human consumption, petfood is a great way to dispose of them. The fact that they have very little, if any, nutritional value for animals doesn’t seem to be a factor.
  • Secondly, they’re an inexpensive form of boosting protein levels in the food – although NOT a form that is well assimilated by cats or dogs. The result is that the protein percentage looks good on the label, but your dog or cat won’t be getting much actual nutrition (protein) from it.

Well-known brands containing by-products: Advance, Beneful, Tux, Purina Dog Chow, Eukanuba, Pro Plan, Hills Science Diet

Well-known brands that contain NO by-products: Pro Pac, Nutro, Nutrience, Royal Canin

To quote Mike Sagman from

“I love my dog, Bailey… and I would never consider feeding him anything that was so vile it’s been forbidden from use in my own food.

If it’s not good enough for me… then it’s not good enough for my dog.

Needless to say… animal by-products are some of the lowest-quality dog food ingredients out there. Do your dog a favor… and avoid them like the plague.”

If you want to learn more about by-products and other ingredients about what goes into petfood, read our free report, “The Truth About Dried Dog Food – What Even Most Vets Don’t Know and Why.” You can get it here:

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