dog food on table with knife and fork

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Choosing the right high-quality food to feed your pet can be a perplexing task. One ingredient that you often come across in dog food is chicken meal. Despite its prevalence, many pet owners don’t fully understand what chicken meal is and whether it’s good for their furry friends.

This blog post will unravel these mysteries, arming you with knowledge to make well-informed decisions about your dog’s diet. Ready to discover more? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Chicken meal is a concentrated protein source in dog food made from rendered chicken flesh and skin.
  • It does not include feathers or non-meat parts of the bird, making it a high-quality ingredient.
  • Chicken meal provides essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals for your dog’s overall health and vitality.
  • However, some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities to chicken, so it’s important to choose the right food based on their specific needs.

Chicken Meal and Chicken By-Product Meal in Pet Food

Chicken meal in dog food is a highly concentrated protein source made by rendering chicken flesh and skin.

Definition and composition of chicken meal

Chicken meal is a key part of dry dog food. It is made from chicken parts like flesh, skin, and bone. These are mixed together. Then they get dried out and ground down to a fine powder.

This turns into chicken meal after heating at high temperatures. So, it is dry and easy to store for long periods of time. Chicken meal does not contain feathers or other non-meat parts of the bird.

How is chicken meal made?

Making chicken meal for dog food starts with clean chicken. This includes both the meat and the bones. The first step is to get parts of a whole chicken.

Then these parts are cooked in a process called rendering. Rendering means cooking the parts until all moisture gets taken out. What’s left is a dry, powder-like substance that we call chicken meal.

  1. Get clean chicken, including flesh and bone.
  2. Use a process called rendering – this involves cooking at high heat.
  3. Cook until every bit of moisture goes away.
  4. After drying, grind into a powder – like substance.
  5. Now we have what is known as chicken meal.

Differences between chicken meal and chicken by-product meal

Chicken meal and chicken by-product meal may sound similar, but they are significantly different in composition and quality. In terms of nutritional value, digestibility, and potential allergens, there are some factors that pet owners need to consider when comparing them.

Chicken Meal Chicken By-product Meal
Chicken meal is made from dehydrated chicken meat. It is a concentrated source of animal protein. Chicken by-product meal includes other parts of the chicken such as feet, necks, and organs along with some meat.
Chicken meal is often a cheaper food ingredient than whole chicken, making it a cost-effective source of protein in dog food. Chicken by-product meal can also be a cheaper ingredient, but the nutritional value can vary depending on which specific by-products are included.
Chicken meal does not include less desirable chicken parts, making it a more palatable choice for many dogs and their owners. Some people may prefer to avoid chicken by-product meal due to the inclusion of less desirable parts of the chicken.
Premium pet foods often include chicken meal to provide a high-quality, concentrated source of protein. While some pet foods use chicken by-product meal, it is less commonly found in premium products due to potential quality concerns.

Understanding the differences between chicken meal and chicken by-product meal can help you make an informed decision about what’s best for your furry friend’s diet.

dog sniffing dog food

Is Chicken Meal Good for Dogs?

Chicken meal is highly beneficial for dogs due to its nutritional value and high protein content.

Nutritional benefits of chicken meal

Chicken meal offers several nutritional benefits for dogs. It is a concentrated source of protein, which is essential for muscle development and repair. Protein also helps to support healthy skin and coat, as well as the immune system.

Chicken meal contains amino acids that are crucial for overall health and vitality in dogs. In addition, it provides important vitamins and minerals that contribute to optimal canine nutrition.

While fresh chicken may have higher nutritional value than chicken meal, including chicken meal in pet food can still be a healthy choice for providing the necessary protein content in your dog’s diet.

Considerations for dogs with specific dietary needs or sensitivities

If your dog has specific dietary needs or sensitivities, it’s important to consider what ingredients are in their food. Some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities to certain proteins, such as chicken.

If your dog is allergic to chicken or has a sensitivity to it, you should look for dog food options that are chicken-free. There are many high-quality dog foods available that use alternative protein sources, like fish or lamb.

Additionally, if your dog has other dietary needs, such as grain-free or limited-ingredient diets, make sure to choose a dog food that meets those requirements. Always consult with your veterinarian if you’re unsure about which type of food is best for your furry friend.

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Pros and Cons of Foods with Chicken Meal

Foods with chicken meal offer nutritional benefits, providing a high-quality source of protein for dogs. However, it’s important to consider potential disadvantages or concerns such as allergies or sensitivities that some dogs may have towards chicken meal.

Advantages of foods with chicken meal

Foods with chicken meal can have several benefits for your pet:

  1. High protein content: Chicken meal is rich in protein, which is important for dogs’ overall health and muscle development.
  2. Cost-effective: Chicken meal is a cheaper food ingredient compared to whole chicken, making it a more affordable option for pet food manufacturers and potentially resulting in lower prices for consumers.
  3. Convenient and consistent: Chicken meal is a powder-like substance made from chicken parts and by-products, ensuring a consistent nutritional profile in each batch of pet food.
  4. Nutritional balance: Premium pet foods often combine higher-quality fresh chicken with chicken meal to provide a balanced mix of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.
  5. Longer shelf life: Chicken meal has a longer shelf life compared to fresh chicken, reducing the risk of spoilage and allowing for easier storage.

Potential disadvantages or concerns

Potential disadvantages or concerns of foods with chicken meal in dog food:

  1. Allergies or Sensitivities: Some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities to chicken or poultry ingredients, including chicken meal. It is important to monitor your dog for any adverse reactions and consult with a veterinarian if necessary.
  2. Unknown Quality: The source and quality of the chicken used in the meal may vary depending on the brand and manufacturer. It is essential to choose reputable pet food brands that prioritize using high-quality ingredients.
  3. Processing Methods: The process of creating chicken meal involves rendering, which can involve high heat and pressure. This process may alter the nutritional value of the chicken meal, potentially decreasing its overall quality.
  4. Lack of Transparency: Pet food labels may not always provide specific information about the type of chicken used in the meal or how it was processed. This lack of transparency can make it challenging to determine the true nutritional value and safety of the product.
  5. Contaminants or Additives: Chicken meal may contain traces of contaminants such as antibiotics or hormones if they were present in the chicken before processing. Additionally, some pet food manufacturers may add artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers to enhance taste or shelf life.
dog food in heart shape


Chicken meal is a protein-rich ingredient commonly used in dog food. It is made from ground chicken parts and by-products that have been dried at high temperatures. Despite some misconceptions, chicken meal can be a nutritious and beneficial component of a balanced dog food diet.

So next time you see chicken meal listed on the pet food label, know that it can provide your furry friend with the protein they need to thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is chicken meal in dog food?

Chicken meal in dog food is a dry rendered product made from real chicken, including the flesh and bones.

Is chicken meal used as an ingredient in many pet foods?

Yes, you will often see chicken meal listed on many commercial pet food’s nutrition labels, such as dry dog or cat food.

How does meat meal like “chicken meal” compare with regular chicken meat used in pet food?

Meat meals like “chicken meal” often contain more protein than regular whole meats because they are a concentrated source of animal proteins.

What parts of the chicken are used to make chicken meal?

The whole carcasses of chickens may be used when making a batch of high-quality “chicken meal”, which can include parts like necks and breasts.

Are there other types of meat meals found in pet foods?

Indeed! Besides “chicken meals”, other examples include “salmon meals”, which are also commonly found ingredients on common dog or even cat food brands.

Will feeding my pets with commercial foods containing ‘meal’ harm them?

No, provided that your choice aligns with trusted standards of the Association of American Feed Control who oversee what goes into our pets’ foods; quality assurance is a must while selecting any type for your furry friend’s diet.

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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What Is Chicken Meal In Dog Food?

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