It used to be if Duke was low on food, a quick stop at the store to pick up some kibble was fine. However, since the pet food scare of 2007 when unknown numbers of pets became seriously ill from contaminated food, pet owners have become more aware of what they feed their furry friends. As a result, commercial pet food has become more sophisticated -- and challenging to understand exactly what Duke's eating.
If you've looked at Duke's dog food label, you may have seen the phrase "chicken meal." Chicken meal is not what the chicken ate for supper. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines chicken meal as "chicken which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size." The definition doesn't include feathers, feet, entrails or heads.
Chicken Byproduct Meal
One of the words often found on dog food labels is "byproduct," which conjures up all sorts of unsavory images. Byproducts are the leftovers of a slaughtered animal after the parts meant for human consumption have been removed. According to AAFCO, chicken byproduct meal "consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice."
Foods Without Chicken Byproduct Meal
If you don't have the time or inclination to research and prepare Duke's supper yourself, some good commercial options are available. Commonly available commercial dog food brands without chicken byproducts include Blue Buffalo, Evo, Innova, Canidae, Newman's Own Organic, Wellness Core Dog Food and AvoDerm. Make it a practice to read the label of whatever food you consider just to make sure you're comfortable with what Duke's going to eat. Of course, if Duke has special dietary needs, check with your vet to make sure your choice doesn't conflict with his requirements.
Homemade Dog Food
If you want total control over Duke's diet, you can make his supper for him and not worry whether he's eating chicken byproduct meal. However, homemade diets are a lot of work and require research. It's not as easy as throwing some meat and potatoes in a dish; he has nutritional needs that must be met. There are numerous websites providing information and recipes to help develop an appropriate diet for Duke. It's a good idea to talk to your vet to learn if Duke has special considerations to keep in mind if you cook for him yourself.
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