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Chicken Meal vs Chicken Byproduct – Whats the Difference?

Chicken Meal vs Chicken Byproduct – Whats the Difference?

You know, when I was a pup, I used to think all this talk about chicken meal and chicken byproducts was just a bunch of dog food mumbo-jumbo. I mean, how different could they really be, right? Well, let me tell you, my friend, there’s a world of difference between these two ingredients, and it’s something every dog parent needs to know.

Chicken – The Whole Package

Let’s start with the good stuff – plain old chicken. When you see “chicken” listed as an ingredient on a dog food label, that’s referring to the clean combination of chicken meat, skin, and bone, with all the good stuff your pup needs. This is the whole, unadulterated bird, minus the feathers, heads, feet, and entrails. It’s the real deal, the whole package, and it’s a great source of high-quality protein for your furry friend.

Now, you might be wondering, “But isn’t chicken just as good as chicken meal?” Well, not exactly. You see, when chicken is processed into kibble, a lot of that precious moisture content gets removed. And as we all know, water makes up about 75% of a chicken’s weight. So, if you start with plain old chicken, by the time it’s all dried and ground up for your dog’s dinner, you’re left with a lot less actual meat than you might think.

Chicken Meal – The Condensed Version

That’s where chicken meal comes in. This is the same chicken, just with the water taken out. It’s been ground up into a fine powder, leaving you with a concentrated dose of protein-packed goodness. When you see “chicken meal” on the label, you can rest assured that your pup is getting a higher percentage of actual chicken meat in their food, compared to if the first ingredient was just plain old “chicken.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But wait, doesn’t chicken meal sound kind of gross?” And I get it, the idea of “meal” can sound a little unappetizing. But trust me, this is a good thing. The process of making chicken meal actually helps to preserve all the essential nutrients and make them more readily available for your dog’s body to absorb.

Chicken Byproducts – The Leftovers

And then there’s the less desirable option – chicken byproducts. These are the parts of the chicken that aren’t typically consumed by humans, like necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But my dog loves chicken feet!” And you’re not wrong, our canine companions do have a bit of a taste for these less glamorous chicken parts. However, when it comes to dog food, you want to steer clear of chicken byproducts.

You see, these byproducts are the leftovers, the bits and pieces that the food processing companies can’t sell to us humans. And let’s be honest, would you want to eat a big ol’ plate of chicken feet and intestines? Didn’t think so. The same goes for your pup – these byproducts are less nutritious and often harder for your dog to digest, so it’s best to avoid them if you can.

The Bottom Line

So, there you have it – the lowdown on chicken meal vs. chicken byproducts. When it comes to your dog’s diet, you want to look for high-quality protein sources like chicken meal, where you’re getting the most bang for your buck in terms of actual meat content. And steer clear of those chicken byproducts – your dog deserves the best, and that means the whole, unadulterated chicken, not just the leftovers.

And remember, if you’re ever unsure about the ingredients in your dog’s food, you can always head over to for more information and expert advice. After all, we pups know a thing or two about good nutrition, and we’re always happy to share our wisdom with our human counterparts.

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