What Is Chicken Meal in Pet Food?

by Naomi Millburn
Dogs digest chicken meal easily.

Dogs digest chicken meal easily.

Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Attempting to understand the ingredients listed on your dog's commercial pet food packaging can sometimes feel like trying to decipher a language from outer space -- frustrating. Don't guess and make assumptions, however, because the ingredient list can be misleading. Chicken meal, a common component in dog food, is not exactly the same as simple "chicken," for example, but that doesn't mean it's bad for your dog.

Chicken Meal Identification

The term "chicken meal" is not a fancy way of saying chicken. It differs from standard chicken in that it is both defatted and dehydrated. Normal chicken meat consists of a significant amount of water, which makes it different from chicken meal. Chicken meal is a strong provider of concentrated protein to dogs, offering even more protein than chicken meat, according to the staff at the Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital.

Components of Chicken Meal

Chicken meal is pulverized into tiny pieces. It includes several different components of chicken, specifically the flesh, bones and skin. Although bone often is included in chicken meal, it isn't in all cases, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials standards. Chicken meal doesn't include things such as nails and blood. Meat meals such as chicken meals are included in pet foods to raise their levels of protein, says veterinarian Debra Eldredge and author Terry Albert, authors of "Your Labrador Retriever Puppy." Chicken byproduct meal, on the other hand, is less beneficial than chicken meal and is often composed of elements such as heads and feet. Feathers and eggs are sometimes even part of chicken byproduct meal. These things are never part of chicken meal.

Pet Food Ingredients

Chicken meal is often considered to be a strong component in nutritious and healthy dog foods. If you're trying to find a high-grade commercial food for your pet, seek one that lists types of whole meat as the initial two ingredients. Chicken meal and chicken are both solid examples of whole meats. Refrain from buying dog foods that indicate "poultry meal" instead of the more specific "chicken meal." If you ever have any concerns or questions about reading pet food labeling, talk to a veterinarian. A veterinarian makes an excellent resource for helping owners establish effective, well-rounded food plans for their beloved pets.

Chicken Meal Preparation

The preparation of chicken meal involves cooking it to split up its flesh and fat content. The cooking also decreases the water content, taking it from roughly 70 percent water to merely 10 percent or so. When that's done, it's pulverized into its final "meal" stage.

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