Are Meat By-Products in Pet Food Bad?

Photo Credit: Carterse

Photo Credit: Carterse

Meat by-products. It seems we all dread seeing or hearing that term, and there are many rumors and opinions surrounding this very common pet food ingredient.

But what are meat by-products? The term by-product sounds gross, and I have heard rumors that by-products contain anything from beaks, feathers, hoofs, and even tumors that have been lying on the ground!

These rumors are false, and they turn many pet owners away from very healthy and nutritious diets. Unfortunately, many pet food companies have taken advantage of the negative rumors and use them as marketing tools to sell their diets to you. We have all seen the commercials -- feed your pet whole meatgive them what their ancestors would eat, etc.

So what should you feed your pet and who can you trust to give you the correct information?

Let’s define what meat by-products are. The Association of American Feed Control Officials defines meat by-products as:

"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 de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs."

It turns out that meat by-products are a great source of and often provide more protein, vitamins, and minerals than whole muscle meat. They're also what an animal would naturally eat in the wild.

If you consider what a feral cat eats, the idea of meat by-products makes more sense. When the cat kills a mouse or bird for food, it is going to eat virtually every part of the animal, including the organ meat, and not just the whole muscle meat. Meat by-products in pet food help mimic the natural nutrients an animal would get if it had to hunt for its own food.

Kacey Reilly, CVT, talking with clients about pet food nutrition at Badger Veterinary Hospital in Janesville, WI

While whole meat sounds better and more nutritious for us humans, it isn’t always what is best for our furry friends.

When in doubt, ask your trusted veterinary professional about what diet you're feeding. We have years of experience and education on the health of your pets. We have fed pets different diets and worked with different pet food companies over the years.

As a pet owner and veterinary professional, I feed a diet to my pets that contains meat by-products. I am confident in this ingredient and in the pet food company I've chosen to provide the essential nutrients and high-quality ingredients that my furry family members need and deserve.

If you have any concerns about ingredients, the quality of a diet, or you're just not sure what diet would be best for the health and lifestyle of your pet, we are here to help. Schedule a wellness visit with your Badger Veterinary Hospital veterinarian today!