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Comparing Meat to Meal in Pet Food

Mar 26, 2015 ● By Rob Freeman

Pet food advertisers like to say that their main ingredient is real meat because that makes it sound just like human food, but this is not necessarily so. All kibble dog food starts with the cooking process. Ingredients are listed by order of weight prior to cooking, and then the food is cooked. This is an important point because when the cooking process occurs, it alters the weight and content of many ingredients, especially the meat ingredients.

Chicken and lamb meat are approximately 70 percent water and only 12 percent protein, while chicken meal and lamb meal are dry and 65 percent to 70 percent meat protein. Any meat, whether it is chicken or lamb or another animal, is comprised primarily of water prior to cooking. Most meats will lose 60 percent to 80 percent of their weight during the cooking process, so the number one meat ingredient listed by weight prior to cooking will lose a majority of its mass, and the other ingredients will be a higher percentage of that pet food.

Meal is essentially the usable parts of an animal that are ground up and then cooked. During the dog food preparation process, it loses only about 10 percent to 15 percent of its weight. So, when lamb meal or chicken meal is number one on the list prior to cooking, it will very likely remain the number one item by weight after cooking.

The more facts you know, the better you can feed your favorite pet because they depend on you for their good nutrition.


Rob Freeman is the owner of Northshore Pet Chef, offering healthy, fresh, all-natural pet food delivered to the door. For more information, call 847-920-4738 or visit