What Is Chicken Meal in Pet Food?

By Catherine Holden Robinson

When it comes to choosing a dog food, the list of ingredients can be mind boggling. Dogs benefit from a well-balanced diet including food comprised of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Consult with your veterinarian, who can advise you on a balanced diet, and consider the benefit of chicken meal as a protein-rich additive to your pal's commercial kibble.

Defining Chicken Meal

According to T.J. Dunn Jr., DVM, retired veterinarian and founder of ThePetCenter.com, dogs are omnivores, and as such, can survive on plant based nutrition, but to thrive, a dog needs a meat-based protein in his diet. Meats such as chicken and turkey, beef or lamb, and fish such as herring or salmon, are commonly added to commercial kibble to meet a protein requirement. Chicken, when baked to remove toxins and added in a ground form, consists of 70 percent water, 5 percent fat and only 18 percent protein. When the same baked and ground chicken is dried to a moisture level of only 10 percent, the result is a fat content of 12 percent and a protein content of 65 percent. This product is referred to as chicken meal.

Another consideration when choosing a quality pet food is the addition of byproducts. Chicken byproducts may consist of diseased meat, necks or feet, and are often considered to be unfit for human consumption. Much of this is based upon the handling of the chicken during preparation, according to Dr. Ron Rompala of Kent Nutrition Group in Muscatine, Iowa, who also states that, "pound for pound, chicken meal provides more nutrients than chicken at a lower cost."

Dr. Rompala recommends educating yourself on the quality content of your pet's commercial food, including the presence of antioxidants and iron proteinate, which attaches to amino acids and aids in digestion.