Myths vs Facts


De-boned chicken is all the good stuff taken off and put in my dog’s food.


Many picture this as all the best meat being taken off a carcass, just like Thanksgiving. It actually is known in the pet food manufacturing industry as MSM or mechanically deboned meat. A paste-like meat product produced by forcing pureed chicken through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. The process entails pureeing or grinding the carcass left after the manual removal of meat from the bones and then forcing the slurry through a sieve under pressure. This puree includes bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels and the scraps of meat primarily on the bones. The resulting product is a blend, primarily consisting of tissues not generally considered meat along with a much smaller amount of actual meat (muscle tissue). It is sometimes referred to as white slime.


Chicken and chicken meal are not the same.


Chicken is commonly seen as the first ingredient in dog foods. What do you think when you see “chicken by-product” or “chicken meal”? Do you think it’s a bad thing?

Let’s start by defining some common ingredients listed on a pet food bag:

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Chicken by-product
  • Chicken by-product meal

When defined on a pet food label, chicken meal and chicken are exactly the same thing. Just processed differently. Chicken and chicken by-product, because they are supplied wet, once dried should really show up lower in the ingredient panel because its weight is greatly reduced once cooked. If the pet food manufacturer received the product as wet meat, then they call the ingredient chicken. They process it into a dry form to be added to their recipe. However, if they receive the product already processed, then it must be listed as chicken meal.


All ingredients are high quality ingredients.


Ingredients, though given the same name, are NOT created equal. This is where it is difficult to know where the product was sourced, whether it was tested for purity and what the true mix of ingredients are. If you see chicken as the main ingredient, you have no way of knowing whether that ingredient is mostly meat with a little bit of bone and skin, or is it all skin? If it is chicken by-product, is it a healthy mix of liver, heart, flesh and a little bone or is it 90% feet?

It is costly to “test” every source for quality and purity. Many manufacturers don’t, but it is the only way to make sure the ingredients are balanced and clean. Reputable manufacturers will screen and accept only ingredients that are high quality. One important test is to measure the ash content, high ash content indicates to much bone in the recipe, as low ash indicates more meat than bone.

Marketing has taken over the pet food industry and made it so confusing and unclear what is really good for our pets, what they really need to be healthy. Fads, limited ingredient foods, grain free, meat free, raw diets, it goes on and on. You have to get really good at reading labels and asking questions. Demand more. We need to make manufacturers accountable. There needs to be transparency and honesty in what are in those bags and what we are feeding our pets.


If I’m gluten-free so my dog should be too.


Heart Disease Risks exist with boutique, grain-free and exotic ingredient diets. In the last few years veterinarians are seeing an alarming increase in cases of nutritional deficiencies due to people feeding unconventional diets, such as raw, homemade, vegetarian and boutique commercial pet foods.

The pet food industry is very competitive with more and more novelty companies joining in every year. Marketing experts make it even more confusing as they can make you think every new fad is what your dog needs. Unfortunately, most are unsupported by nutritional science. The creative and persuasive advertising companies do not inform the pet owner if the diets they are feeding have nutritional deficiencies or toxicities that could harm your pet if fed over a prolonged period of time. Man-made diseases are real. Copper Storage Disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Adverse Food Reactions, all are from what is being put in or left out of pet diets.

Beet pulp? Is this necessary in my dog’s food?


Beet pulp is a fiber. The benefits of fiber in diets has been misunderstood. Once described as a “filler” or “bulk” it was looked at as a bad thing, but in reality, is extremely beneficial for the gastrointestinal system. Fiber is difficult for the digestive system to break down and use, but despite its limited digestibility, provides an important source of energy for the cells lining the intestinal tract and promotes healthy cell function.

Fiber helps reduce caloric density of the diet and can contribute to a dog’s satisfaction of feeling full.


Corn in dog food is bad.


While food allergies in pets are sometimes seen, most revolving around the type of protein in the diets, allergies to grains are even rarer. Less than one percent of dogs may have a sensitivity to corn. But for the ninety-nine percent of dogs who thrive on a diet that includes corn, this nutritious ingredient can be found in a variety of quality pet foods. Whatever you decide to feed your dog, information rooted in science gives you facts you can act on. Corn is not harmful to dogs and is certainly not a filler in diets. Corn has a valuable function and plays a part in providing an excellent source of nutrition for your pet.

Not only are grains ok, but they are also beneficial. Grains provide a source of highly digestible carbohydrate, essential fatty acids and proteins. Corn is one of the most naturally antioxidant-dense grains.


Home cooked food for pets are better.


Not necessarily! Nutritional health and longevity for your pet requires receiving the correct amount and proportions of nutrients from six required groups:

Water – Protein – Fat -Carbohydrate – Minerals -and Vitamins

Water, essential because it is involved in virtually every reaction within the body. From helping to regulate body temperature, lubricate tissues, eliminate toxins and waste, blood flow and lymph systems. Water is primarily lost through urine, feces and respiration processes.

Protein- essential nutrient that provides for muscle growth, tissue repair, transporting oxygen in the blood, immune functions and as a source of energy. Proteins are made up of amino acids, are broken down and distributed to various cells of the body where they are used to build body proteins. The two basic kinds are essential and nonessential. The body cannot produce essential amino acids adequately on its own to sustain growth and maintain health. These need to be supplied through diet. Nonessential amino acids are produced in the body naturally and generally do not need to be supplemented. Essential amino acids are not stored in the body, they are constantly metabolized and need to be replenished, in the proper portions through diet.

Fat- a concentrated form of energy. Most dietary fat is made up of triglycerides. A group of three fatty acids linked to a glycerol backbone. Fat contains approximately 2.25 times the amount of energy per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate- sources are sugars, starches and insoluble fiber. Simple sugars are the smallest carbohydrate molecules and are easily digested and absorbed. Starches and complex carbohydrates require more digestion before they can be absorbed. Insoluble fibers are carbohydrates that are not digestible.

Minerals- simple molecules responsible for many different functions in the body such as in bone and cartilage formation, enzymatic reactions, maintaining fluid balance, transportation of oxygen in the blood, normal muscle and nerve function and production of hormones. Even though some minerals function separately from other’s, a dog cannot be adequately nourished without providing all the minerals in their proper portions.

Vitamins- unlike minerals, vitamins are complex substances. Classified as either fat-soluble (Vitamins A, D, E, K) or water-soluble (B-Vitamins and Vitamin C). Vitamins work together with each other and with other nutrients to nourish the body.

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