What to look for in a good food (Part 2)

Right, so you went to Wags and you didn't buy every bag of food ever.  You read Part 1, or you asked an associate, and you made a smart purchasing decision to help your conscience and your pet's stomach.  Good stuff, we approve. 

Today we'll get a little more in depth on the ingredients in a good food.  In order to retain your attention, we'll keep this short and break it into a few parts ;), starting with the proteins.  The world of pet food ingredients is different than our common nomenclature for the food we eat. How do you know what the things on the food label actually are? 


  • Meat (this would appear as 'Lamb,' 'Beef,' etc on a label): clean flesh from slaughtered mammals, limited to skeletal muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus with or without overlying fat and portions of skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels.  Might sound a little gross, but the furry folks need it.
  • Meat Meal (the would appear as 'Lamb meal' etc on the label): dehydrated of the above defined meat, exclusive of added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents.  Good thing too.  
  • Poultry (this would appear as 'Chicken,' 'Duck,' etc on the label): clean combination of flesh and skin with or without bone exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.
  • Poultry Meal (appears as 'Turkey meal' etc): dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.
  • Meat by-products (look for the species! 'Meat' could be anything): non-rendered clean parts other than meat from slaughtered mammals. Includes but not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temp fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair horns teeth and hooves.  Be careful of this stuff.  
  • Poultry by-products (look for the species!) non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet and vicera free from fecal content and foreign matter.  Also, be careful of this stuff.
  • By-product meals: ground rendered product of the above defined by-products.  Nonspecific.  
  • Meat and bone Meal (there is no way to tell what animals are or aren't in this product): rendered product from mammal tissues including bone exclusive of added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents.  In July 2008 AAFCO finally stated that “4-D” animals (dead, dying, diseased or disabled) would no longer be allowed in pet food. Unfortunately this still happens as seen by recent pet food recalls for food with euthanasia drug in them, the culprit ingredient is usually meat and bone meal).


When buying pet food, try to stick to brands that are transparent about what's in the food.  If you don't know what they mean when they say "by-products," then you probably don't know what's in the food.  Good ingredients are critical for your furiend getting the nutrients and vitamins they need!