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So we get this question a lot in the store, when asking about pet food:

“What is meal?”

A lot of people are turned off by that word. I completely understand why. In dealing with lower grade pet food, “meal” can be the indicator of suspicious “mystery meat”.

However, not all meals are created equal. According to “Dog Food Advisor” — a reputable third party website that evaluates dog foods:

Meat meal is the dried end-product of a cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew… except that the stew is intentionally over-cooked.

And that’s the whole point.

You see, the idea of rendering is to start with a meat stew… cook away the water… and bake the residue. What you end up with is a highly concentrated protein powder… better known as meat meal.

…It all boils down to the contents of the stew… the raw materials. And this one critically important principle…

No meat product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it.

Better meals are made from the quality meat parts of specific animals. Low-grade meals come from generic sources like slaughterhouse waste and spoiled supermarket meats… even dead zoo animals… and worse.

So what does this mean for you? It means that meal in your dog or cat’s food can be a good thing. “Meal” does not automatically mean “cheap”, it is just an indicator of process.

How do you know the good “meal” from the bad? Here are some tips from Dog Food Advisor:

Stay away from dog foods containing any meat meal that…

  1. Includes the words “by-products” in its name

  2. Fails to identify the specific source animal1

Here are a few examples of inferior meat-based protein ingredients. Be sure to notice the “generic” names…

  • Meat meal

  • Animal meal

  • Chicken by-product meal

  • Meat and bone meal

  • Glandular meal

  • Poultry meal

  • Blood meal

When you spot ingredients like these… it’s a sure sign you’re looking at an inferior dog food. Stand clear.

So basically if it sounds suspect, it is. High quality pet foods are always specific. They want to be!

They want to tout the good stuff they put in their food!

Its when ingredient lists and guaranteed analyses are vague that it makes me believe they are hiding something. Which means what they are hiding may not be good.

So there’s the short answer to “What is meal?”.

If you’re ever in doubt of the quality of your pet’s food, READ THE LABEL. It can reveal so much.

Know what’s in your pet’s food! If you don’t know what something is, look it up. The internet makes it so easy for all us to be educated these days.

If you would like to read more about your pet’s food, visit or if you’d like to read more about “meal” click right here.

~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger

NOTE: Please, always check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt always ask a vet.

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