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Pet Food

This enlightening article on pet food ingredients was written by PAW volunteer Tonja Nansel.

Most commercial pet foods are made from products that are considered waste from the feeding of humans. In fact, the majority of pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major food production companies. This provides these companies with a way to profit from the waste products of food production.

Undesirable pet food ingredients fall into two major categories.

1. Rendering plant products. Rendering plants are used to dispose of dead animals, fat, and meat wastes. This may include livestock that has died in the field or in transportation, slaughterhouse waste, unsold supermarket meats, restaurant grease, roadkill, wildlife, and euthanized companion animals.

The rendering process involves grinding, shredding, and cooking all the products at very high temperatures. The resulting substance is then sold for animal food. These products contain euthanizing drugs as well as disinfectants that are used on slaughterhouse waste, pesticides, insecticides, metals, and even plastic and styrofoam products.

Rendering plant products can be identified by the following names in the ingredient list:

  • Meat meal
  • Meat and bone meal
  • Beef and bone meal
  • By-product meal
  • Beef tallow
  • Animal digest
  • Animal fat

    2. Food production waste products. Food production results in products that are unsuitable for human consumption. However, they may be used in pet food production. Such ingredients may include livestock by-products such as intestines, udders, and other animal parts not consumed by humans, diseased and cancerous meat, meat deemed "not fit for human consumption," rancid grains, peanut hulls, and other products of questionable nutritional value. While not all food that cannot be sold to humans is non-nutritious, it is difficult for you as the consumer to know the nutritive value, since the ingredient lists are typically vague.

    If you are going to use a commercial pet food, then it is important to carefully read the ingredients and find out as much as you can about their quality. First, do not buy any foods or treats that contain any rendering plant products, identifiable by the terms listed above. Second, avoid foods containing by-products, as well as the chemicals BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin. Finally, if you want the very best for your furry pals, look for food that is made with "human grade" ingredients. This means that it was made with ingredients that could have actually been sold to you -- not waste products.

    This is a very brief review of pet food production. For more information, see the sources listed below.

    Animal Protection Institute Reports:

    Animal Protection Institute: What's Really in Pet Food

    Animal Protection Institute: Selecting a Commercial Pet Food

    Animal Protection Institute: Sample Diets for Homemade Foods

    Articles available on the internet:

    Pet Food Facts and Healthy Alternatives

    Polluted Pet Food


    Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food by Ann N. Martin

    Protect Your Pet by Ann N. Martin

    Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

    Websites of Some Premium Pet Foods:

    Balance Diet www.balancediet.com

    Canidae / Felidae www.canidae.com

    Flint River Ranch Available from independent distributors accessible on the web

    Natura (Innova, California Natural, Healthwise) www.naturapet.com

    Nature's Finest www.paws4us.com

    Precise www.precisepet.com

    Solid Gold www.solidgoldhealth.com

    Wellness / Old Mother Hubbard www.oldmotherhubbard.com

    Wysong www.wysong.net


    For more Dog Tips about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

    Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
    P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

    Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport