Is Dog Meat Used to Make Dog Food?

the daily dish More on PawNation: Dog Food, Dogs, Health, Nutrition, Pet Food, Safety
How much do you know about the ingredients your dog food contains? Would you still feed it to your dog if you knew some of the ingredients consisted of expired meat, diseased meat and even dead dogs and cats from animal shelters? That's exactly what's going into some commercial pet foods, according to a recent article on


We already know that pet food contains a lot of animal products that we probably wouldn't eat ourselves, including meat that the FDA won't even allow in food sold to humans - stuff deemed too nasty even to go into hot dogs. That's the trade-off for pet food that, on a dollar-per-pound basis, is very inexpensive.

According to Slate, all the cast-off animals parts that we won't eat - brains, intestines, udders, beaks, etc. - are sent to rendering plants that combine that meat from various animals in grinders that pulverize it all together. But what's more disturbing is what else is thrown into the grinders, including expired meat from supermarkets (Styrofoam and plastic included), road kill, diseased meat, and yes, dead dogs and cat from shelters, and even dead zoo animals.

When all those ingredients are ground together, the resulting product is cooked for hours at high temperatures. The fat is skimmed off and included as an ingredient in pet food. Of course, you won't find it listed on the label as "dog meat" - it's called "meat meal" or "meat and bone meal."

The official Association of American Feed Control Officials description of meat and bone meal is "The rendered product from mammal tissues, with or without bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices." But even that unpleasant description doesn't include the specifics of what animals, diseased tissue, and drugs/medicine used to treat sick pets may wind up in the mix.

While the AAFCO regulates the ingredients that go into pet food, it doesn't do any testing and doesn't have the authority to enforce anything. When we talked to pet expert Dan Barton last month, he told us that it is up to the FDA to regulate processes and sanitation for pet food production, and inspect facilities, but there are tons of loopholes available to food producers, and FDA enforcement isn't particularly thorough.

Ultimately, you can probably feed dog food to your pets safely, as millions of pet owners do every day without incident. Even the Slate article concludes that, although disgusting, using all that thrown-away meat represents "in a sense, a laudable form of recycling." But most pet owners probably don't have a clear picture of what goes into their pets' food, and they may have second thoughts about buying commercial food if they did.


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