The Truth About “Meal Meal” In Your Dog Food

The Truth About “Meal Meal” In Your Dog Food (And Why It’s A Lot Healthier Than You Might Think)

Have you ever read through the ingredients in your dog food and noticed an ingredient called “meat meal”?

It could come in different forms, such as meat and bone meal, animal by-product meat meal, chicken meat meal, and many others.

Many people see these ingredients and automatically assume that they are low-quality ingredients—less healthy than real, whole meat. But is that actually true?

In many cases, the truth is the exact opposite: that a high-quality meat meal can be MORE nutritious than whole meat.

How can that be, you wonder? Well, let’s start by recognizing one little-known fact:

Whole Meat Is 70% Water


protein in whole chicken
We tend to assume that whole meat is the best source of protein there is. But as you can see in this chart, whole chicken consists of 70% water by weight…and just 18% protein.

This makes sense, after all. Our bodies are made of about 70% water…so it makes sense that real, whole meat would be too.

And this is where high-quality meat meal can actually prove to be an even better source of nutrition for your dog than whole meat.

Meat Meal Is 65% Protein

meal meal protein percentage
Meat meal is mead through a process called “rendering.” In this process, the meat is cooked until all the excess water evaporates…leaving you with highly concentrated protein.

Whereas whole chicken has roughly 70% water and 18% protein, chicken meal flips that ratio on its head—it contains just 10% water and a whopping 65% protein!

In other words, meat meal contains nearly 300% more protein than whole meat.

protein percentage rate in dog food

Is Meat Meal Healthy?

While meat meal does have more protein, that’s not the end of the story.

Some varieties of meat meal are extremely high-quality, giving your dog a dense source of nutritious, natural protein…

…while other types of meat meal are made up of waste materials including animal heads, hooves, bones, and other waste that you would NOT want your dog to eat.

The bottom line is: a meat meal can only be as healthy as the ingredients that were used to make it.

What Kinds Of Meat Meal Should You Look For (And Which Should You Avoid)?

Low-quality meat meal is unspecific and does not clearly identify the type of animal it’s made from. Additionally, any meat meal with the words “by-product” in the name are also a bad choice.

Make sure to avoid these meat meals:

  • “Animal meal” or “Animal by-product meal”
  • “Meat meal” or “Meat by-product meal”
  • “Chicken by-product meal”
  • “Meat and bone meal”

So what should you be looking for? Just the opposite: any meat meal that clearly identifies what type of animal it comes from is likely to be a healthy, high-quality dog food.

These meat meals are all great choices:

  • “Chicken meal”
  • “Beef meal”
  • “Venison meal”
  • “Lamb meal”
  • “Duck meal”

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is meat meal?

Meat meal is a form of ground-up meat that has been dried and cooked to remove the extra water content. The result is a highly concentrated source of protein. Some varieties of meat meal are extremely high-quality, giving your dog a dense source of nutritious, natural protein, while other types of meat meal are made up of waste materials including animal heads, hooves, bones, and other waste that you would NOT want your dog to eat.

  1. How is meat meal made?

Meat meal is mead through a process called “rendering.” In this process, the meat is cooked until all the excess water evaporates…leaving you with highly concentrated protein. Whereas whole chicken has roughly 70% water and 18% protein, chicken meal flips that ratio on its head—it contains just 10% water and a whopping 65% protein!

  1. What are some examples of good meat meals?

Look for any meat meal that clearly identifies what type of animal it comes from. Some examples of healthy, nutritious meat meals include:

  • “Chicken meal”
  • “Beef meal”
  • “Venison meal”
  • “Lamb meal”
  • “Duck meal”
  1. What are some examples of bad meat meals?

Low-quality meat meal is unspecific and does not clearly identify the type of animal it’s made from. Additionally, any meat meal with the words “by-product” in the name are also a bad choice.

Make sure to avoid these meat meals:

  • “Animal meal” or “Animal by-product meal”
  • “Meat meal” or “Meat by-product meal”
  • “Chicken by-product meal”
  • “Meat and bone meal”