Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Animal Byproducts In Your Pet’s Food

Cats, Dogs, Nutrition

During my time as a veterinary general practitioner I have spent a lot of time talking to my clients about their pet’s nutrition. Although these conversations are typically about proper feeding amounts, I have noticed some confusion over the term animal-by-product. Many owners have a stigma against buying pet food with animal by-products in their pet’s food. This stigma isn’t rooted in science. Instead, it’s the product of savvy marketing hype combined with the yuck factor.

What is an “Animal Byproduct?”

Let us first define the term animal-by-product as given by the Association of American Feed Control Officials:

“…the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but not limited to lung, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth, and hoofs.”

The Yuck Factor

I can guarantee that a large proportion of people reading that statement thought to themselves “I wouldn’t feed my animal those things!” That exact feeling and emotional response those people have is how to describe “The Yuck Factor”. We often forget that if you take any of these ingredients and break them down into their protein, carbohydrate, and fat compositions you are left with highly digestible and rich nutrition. Most of these organs have higher nutritional values than muscle—which is all meat!

Do you think any wild animal has discarded these organs from a carcass because they are icky and gross? Our own revulsion towards these organs probably comes from human culture, which has longstanding stigmas that overrule our mammalian instincts..

How Marketing Profits From Disgust

Certain dog food manufacturers have taken advantage of the “Yuck Factor” to create niche markets for dog food that advertise that there are no by-products contained.

Consider how many Marylanders enjoy their breakfast with a side of scrapple—which is a meat by-product by definition. Those that do enjoy frying up a hot skilled of scrapple are probably easier to convince the benefits of meat by-products than those who are turned off by it.

As for the scrapple-shaming audience, I hope I have at least broadened your opinion that animal by-products are completely fine for our pets’ consumption.

-Dr. Ryan Ashkon Beizavi

EMRVC is here to help with all your pet nutrition questions. Contact us today to set up an appointment!

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

How To Protect Your Cat From Lily Toxicity

Springtime is one of the best times of the year, but for cats, it can be one of the most dangerous. As we near the Easter holiday, we see an abundance of lilies popping up in stores, backyards, and flower arrangements. This is worrisome as lilies are one of the most...

How to Keep Your Dog Safe at a Labor Day Party

Labor Day is the last big bash of the summer, and plenty of people invite their pets to the party. However, it’s important you protect your animal from dangers like heat, greasy food, and fireworks. Beat the Heat It may be September, but the weather can still be...

How Do I Purchase a Safe Pet Food For My Cat or Dog?

Within the last few weeks, Hill's voluntarily recalled several of their canned dog foods including some of their prescription foods. This incident highlights the importance of quality control and monitoring of dog and cat food in general. Recently there was a massive...

Help! Recently My Cat Has Been Peeing Around The House

Although cats are known as being highly clean animals, one of the most common reasons they are brought to the vet is for urinating outside of the litter box (known as ‘’house soiling’’ or ‘’inappropriate urination’’). This is a frustrating issue, so the sooner you...

Resource Topics

Does Your Cat or Dog Have Worms?

Whether your pet goes outdoors or stays inside, it’s likely to get exposed to parasites. Here are some of the most...

How to Make Sure Your Pet Has a Good St. Patrick’s Day

Your beer is green, and your plate is full of cabbage and corned beef — It must be St. Patrick’s Day! No matter how...

Hippoty Pup Pup, Hippoty Pup Pup, Easter is on its way
Pebbles, Mac, Bogey, Red, Pepito, Cheyenne, Honey and Lexi wish you a Happy Easter

Comment on Facebook

TJ & Family wish the Whole Staff ..A Blessed Easter!!

Happy Easter from Monty and Mr Darcy!

2 days ago

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center

EMRVC has the greatest clients - this is why we love and appreciate each and every one of you! Mr. Boykins found a kitten on the side of the road last evening. September has now found her forever home🥰 ...

EMRVC has the greatest clients - this is why we love and appreciate each and every one of you! Mr. Boykins found a kitten on the side of the road last evening. September has now found her forever home🥰

Comment on Facebook

Great news. He’s in for many years of love.

Thank you sir!

He's that kitten's hero!

That is one adorable kitten!

Awwwww the kitten is adorable ❤️

Aww. I would have taken it. So cute!!


Great guy ! 🐈

3 days ago

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center

Hastings gave our newest CSR Kearra a nice welcome!! ...

Hastings gave our newest CSR Kearra a nice welcome!!

Comment on Facebook

What is a CSR?

Load more