Are Meat Byproducts Bad for Dogs?

by Laura Agadoni
    Feed your friend a good diet.

    Feed your friend a good diet.

    Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Just because your dog eats anything you put in front of him and appears to like it doesn’t mean you should serve him the cheapest food on the market. Dog food manufacturers need to cut corners if they want to sell cheap food. Cheap food typically contains low-quality ingredients. This could cause your dog to eat more to get the nutrients he needs, shed more and have body odor. The use of byproducts is one way dog food makers can sell food cheaply.

    What Are Byproducts?

    Once you understand what meat byproducts are, you might not want to feed your dog food that contains them. Meat byproducts are slaughterhouse leftovers, the waste that is unfit for human consumption. They could be hooves, feathers, beaks, eyes, fur, lungs, bone and skin. They are anything from the slaughtered animal that is not meat. Meat byproducts could also be meat from a rendering plant. This meat comes from roadkill or from animals who died from a disease or from being euthanized. However, if the Association of American Feed Control Officials approves the food, the meat byproducts are supposed to be organ meats only, such as liver, kidney, heart, stomach, blood and brain. PetMD says this type of meat byproduct is OK for animals to eat and can be a “great source of protein.”

    Can Dogs Eat Them?

    Dog food that contains meat byproducts is inferior dog food, according to DogFoodAdvisor, a website that rates the quality of dog foods on the market. In the wild, however, dogs eat the entire animal, which means they eat meat byproducts. But that isn’t only what they eat. They eat the meat, also. When dogs eat food that contains meat byproducts, they are eating mostly byproducts and little to no meat. Food that contains animal byproducts is about the worst type of food you can feed your dog, according to DogFoodAdvisor. If you care what your dog eats, avoid feeding him animal byproducts.

    Dogs Can Get Sick

    Your dog can become sick from eating meat byproducts or rendered meat. If a euthanized animal is in the food, your dog could be ingesting the chemicals used to euthanize. These chemicals, particularly sodium pentobarbital, can survive the cooking process the food undergoes in the rendering process, according to Ann M. Martin, author of “Food Pets Die For,” in NaturalNews.com.

    Protein Source

    Dogs need protein as the main ingredient in their food, so people naturally look for the word “meat” on the label. With meat byproducts, consumers often see only the word “meat” and don’t think about what follows. If you want to avoid meat byproducts, read the label. Look for the name of specified meat as the first ingredient, such as lamb, duck, chicken or salmon.

    Photo Credits

    • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.

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