Pet owners should read the ingredient list on their pet's food. By-Products are commonly used as a cheap filler by many pet foods yet few pet owners know what by-products really are. A by-product is a waste product, something that would not be fed to humans. As such we should wonder what by products are doing in our pet's food.
Pet food sometimes contains questionable ingredients, byproducts are just one of the concerning ingredients often used as cheap filler in pet food. Learn what byproducts are and why they are bad.
Chicken By-Products are typically stated to be “beaks, feet, and feathers” but feathers should really only be a small part of chicken by-product meal; which is really nearly everything other than meat. More to the point it is heads, necks, feet, intestines and undeveloped eggs. There may be fecal material but only in trace amounts.
Meat By-Products are the non-meat parts from animals other than poultry and fish. As such it can legally consist of horses, cattle, goats, sheep, road kill, zoo animals, even cats and dogs. Meat byproducts can be blood, bones (although large amounts of bones usually go into bone meal), lungs, spleen, kidney, brain, stomachs, and intestines. Fecal material and stomach contents may appear only in trace amounts. It should not contain hoofs, teeth, or hair.
It is a little ironic that meat meal really contains very little meat, and more to the point is nearly everything left over after meat is removed.
More Shocking Information on By-Products
Meat byproducts can even come from diseased animals.
Animals who were euthanized can also end up in pet foods (not in pet food marked “human grade”). Their remains may be processed into meat meal and byproducts, the concern here being the drugs that were use to euthanize the animal can be passed along in the food. In fact this was noted by veterinarians who had been in the business for many years; they were puzzled as to why it was taking more and more medication to euthanize some animals. Studies traced this back to the use of euthanized animals in pet food (as meat meal and by-products).
As noted by Henry Pasternak, DVM, CVA, in “Healing Pets with Nature's Miracle Cures”, by-products can contain cancerous tumors, and abscesses, which could increase a pet's chance of getting cancer. As well he notes that many of the organs would be high in hormones (which are not destroyed by the rendering process) which can cause problems in pets, particularly cats.
Another concern with byproducts is that they are preserved with a chemical pesticide; Ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin has been linked to many health problems in pets and is highly regulated in the livestock industry, and is banned in some countries. Ethoxyquin is added to the byproducts and as such pet food manufacturers are not required to list it on their ingredient list.
Why Do Some Pet Foods use By-Products
Some of the byproducts are very healthy, organ meat itself is full of protein. By-products can represent up to 50% of a slaughtered animal. We should note that in the wild carnivores would eat the muscle and most of the internal organs, often leaving the stomach until last. The digestive systems of cats and dogs are much faster than ours so they are less likely to have problems from eating things that would make us ill.
By-products are relatively cheap, it costs a lot less for a pet food to use by-products that to use a proper meat ingredient.
Concerned pet owners will read the ingredients list and avoid pet foods containing byproducts.