SERIES: What's Really in Your Dog's Treats: By-Products

Know About the By-Products in Your Dog's Treats

Welcome to our New Series: What's Really in Your Dog's Treats

In our last post, we revealed the secrets behind some of the artificial food dyes found in many of the commercial treats sold for your family K9. 

In this new blog post, we're going to pull back the curtain on the by-products often found in commercial edibles for your dog.


Should Your Dog Eat ByProducts?Look at almost any edible product for your beloved dog and chances are you'll see the term, "by-product." But what does that actually mean? And even more importantly, is it something you should feed your dog?

By-products could be chicken, lamb, beef, fish, turkey or some other type of meat. Typically, by-products are the internal reamins of an animal, not the muscle meat. While raw animal organs are nutritionally beneficial for our carnivorous dogs, what you probably don't know is that these "by-products" can also include diseased tissues, organs and tumors. defines animal by-products as: "What's left of a slaughtered animal after the parts intended for human consumption have been removed."

In other words, it's the scrap (or "offal") remaining from meat processing that many consumers would consider inedible waste. These meat by-products are then used in one of two primary ways by the industry:

  • Canned pet food; and
  • Creation of by-product meals through rendering (learn more about rendering under the heading below).

 Animal By-Products Diagram

 Used with Permission from explains the motivation behind the common use of by-products in the industry:

"This is a cheap way for pet food companies to keep the protein levels "high" (although not high quality) while keeping food production costs low."

Good for companies, but is it really good for your cherished dog's overall health?


By-product "meat meals" are created through a process called rendering:

  1. Over-cooking to remove all water and the fat is skimmed away; and 
  2. Then baked.

The high temperatures used throughout the rendering process will potentially "alter or destroy natural enzymes and proteins found in these raw ingredients." ( ByProducts are Overcooked

So, the by-products originally deemed "unfit" for human consumption are then overly processed (resulting in questionable nutritional quality from batch to batch) and then added to the products you feed your pets every day. All for the goal of keeping production costs low - and profits high - from the very same companies who claim to care about your dog.

Our pets deserve better!


Think all "meat meals" are equal? They aren't. They are divided into two categories including:

  • Named by-products meals (where the animal is identified, like chicken, beef, lamb, fish, etc.); or
  • Generic by-product meals.

Generic by-product meals should always be avoided and never fed to your dog. They are identified by terms including:

  • Meat Meal
  • Meat and Bone Meal
  • Meat By-Product Meal
  • Animal By-Product Meal

Why should you always avoid the generic by-product meals? Because they can contain:

  • Road kill;
  • Dead zoo animals;
  • Dead-on-arrival poulty;
  • Diseased and dying livestock; and
  • Euthanized pets from animal shelters (despite this being illegal).
Note: This explains the recalls last year of pet food (including over 30 different ones) contaminated with pentobarbital (a drug used to euthanize cats, dogs and horses). The recalls involved the following products:
    • Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits and Skippy Premium (all produced by the J.M. Smucker Company);
    • Party Animal Dog Food;
    • Evanger's Dog & Cat Food; and
    • Against the Grain Dog Food.

Remember, your pet is relying upon you to protect him and give him the best quality of life! Keep reading those labels and following our blog for more information to protect your beloved dog.

Always Protect Your Pets!



    • Read all labels thoroughly and carefully. Unsavory details are often buried in the fine print. 
    • Use products containing limitedhuman-grade ingredients you recognize.
    • Learn and follow independent, non-biased experts including:



    Dogs Love Kale treats are made with limited ingredientsOur Dogs Love Kale treats are made in the USA with 100% all-natural, USA-sourced ingredients and absolutely no artificial coloring.

    (Check out all the healthy Dogs Love Kale products at

     Dogs Lvoe Kale cannot guarantee any health benefits

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