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I've been thinking about something. All of the premium kibbles that we feed our dogs are free of by-products. A feature which prides itself on quality. But my question is what is in fact so bad about them? I feed my dog acana, one of the highest quality foods available which is free of by-products but then go and feed him things like beef liver, chicken liver, tripe and lung, bully sticks, trachea,etc as treats all of which are considered by-products. But count as healthy snacks?
Now I realize that by-products can also include things like bones and feathers and blood, but I've seen people who feed their dogs raw give whole chickens feathers and all. Or a piece of cow with the skin and hooves intact. So what's the difference? Presuming that the source is specified as chicken or turkey or beef or whatever as opposed to just "meat" or "animal" what is so bad about it?
Royal canin has recently started using byproducts in their foods and claim that they have the same nutirtional profile as actual meat parts. I realize that RC uses fillers like corn, brewers rice and wheat and is taking advantage by using cheaper meat sources and not lowering prices but my main question is, inevitable fillers aside, what makes byproducts inferior to actual meat. Say there was a grain free kibble that used only chicken byproducts and was very well priced because of it, what would make that a less than premium food?
 

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I think the issue with "by-product" is that it does not specify exactly WHAT "by-product" they are using if that makes sense.

For all we know they could be using guts (not organs), and other parts that are considered "inedible" for even dogs (if you don't know where the animals are from and you want to avoid parasites). Of course, it's been cooked at a high temperature so it isn't as much of a risk.

There are premium quality kibbles out there that use "by products". Orijen, for example, specifically lists the organ meats they use. On the other hand, labels like "poultry by product" is very vague. For all you know all they could be using are only the nails of the chicken or something lol (okay that is exaggerating A LOT but you know what I mean).
 

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I'm OK with "fresh" by-products in a canned food. But they're allowed to use 4D animals in "by-product meal", and I just think that's a bad idea in general, so I avoid that ingredient.
 

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The definition of byproduct (Merriam Webster):

1: something produced in a usually industrial or biological process in addition to the principal product

2: a secondary and sometimes unexpected or unintended result


Organ meat is not a byproduct. A meat byproduct is the mixing of different parts of the body to create a new substance. Generally, they don't tell you which body parts, which means it can be garbage. Dogs are scavengers, and can eat pretty much anything. It's like us eating bologna or hot dogs; we can stay alive eating these, but they aren't very nutritious. Dogs can eat from a raw whole carcass, but that doesn't mean they eat feathers, nails, and beaks. They may accidentally eat a few feathers, but def not the whole thing. When byproducts are processed, they melt everything into a glob. Dog's cannot separate the unwanted parts. It's not the best stuff, but they can survive on it. Who knows what other garbage is in it. The grocery brands of dog foods are made with garbage collected from human foods. You get what you pay for. On the other hand Orijen charges $80 for a bag. You're paying $20 for the bag itself. There is a middle ground though. Nothing cheap, and nothing deep.
 

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Probably, if you ate too much. But the liver and kidney are also the most nutritious parts of the body. . .moderation.

By-products are not supposed to contain feathers (or, "no more than might occur during proper handling procedures", which of course means some feathers will end up in there. But feathers themselves do not qualify for the AAFCO definition of by-products).

When it comes to by-products and by-product meal in pet foods, there's probably not a lot of liver in there because they can sell that separately. But most of the other organs probably go in the by-product vat. Not a lot of demand for cow spleens. . .
 

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The definition of byproduct (Merriam Webster):

1: something produced in a usually industrial or biological process in addition to the principal product

2: a secondary and sometimes unexpected or unintended result


Organ meat is not a byproduct.
The legal definition of what a by product is for pet food labeling purposes is different than the dictionary definition of a by product. Most of the organs are legally considered by products.
 

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To me the problem is when a food has by-product but no real meaty meat. Heads and feet and organs are great but imo the food should be based on muscle meat.

Maybe ideally it would have the whole ground animal.
 

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Well heart counts as muscle. And intestines are full of muscles. But I agree it's probably not ideal to have as the only meat ingredient, I just don't think it is necessarily a bad ingredient either.
 

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Previous foster dog came with a bag of Bil-Jac which has first: Chicken, Chicken By-Products (organs only, source of arginine), Corn Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal

I did think it was neat of them to specify "organs only" but then two more ingredients down is by-product meal which makes me laugh. Food was mostly corn and the poor dog needed 6-8 cups a day and pooped out almost all of it in big piles of yellow-ish soft mush. I was glad to switch him off it.
 

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From what I've read from many experts, organ meat is great for dogs; they have a ton of vitamins and nutrients. I see no problem with giving my dog organs. The problem I have is that most of the byproduct stuff comes from dead animals like road kill, animals that have been given drugs, and whatnot. I've also heard that they leave the collars on. You can choose to take the risks, but I won't. I've also read that the occurrence of Cancer in dog has risen over time in the last decade. The thing is, it is hard to tell what caused a dog to get Cancer. It could be genetic, environmental, or nutrition related. I don't want to take that risk, honestly. Think about it, they make the low end kibble for a few pennies a pound. No thanks for me.
 

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AAFCO definition of "chicken/poultry by-product meal":
Chicken/poultry by-product meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chickens/poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practice.

"meat by-products":
the non rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hooves.

4D animals can't be in non-rendered ingredients (I suppose under the assumption that rendering kills any nasty stuff a DOA animal may have had :/. Although prions aren't killed by heat), which is why I'm OK with non-rendered by-products but not rendered by-product meal.

But, I'm also not under any illusions that even "high-quality" pet food is much better. Pet food is made of the garbage from meat production for human consumption. They aren't going to use anything you'd want to eat. "Chicken meal" is not made of fresh whole chickens right off the farm. It's expired meat and meat that didn't pass inspection and the frames left after they get all the good meat off, etc. So it's not that I think by-product meal is so much lesser quality than other ingredients. But as far as risk assessment goes, I think it's best to avoid it when possible.
 

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things like beef liver, chicken liver, tripe and lung, bully sticks, trachea,etc as treats all of which are considered by-products. But count as healthy snacks?
Maybe I just live in a really diverse area, but pretty much everything on that list, except the trachea, is readily available in supermarkets here as human food products. (Yes, even bully sticks--google "pizzle soup".) Those sorts of things are perfectly edible, for people and for dogs, even if its not something you personally eat.

I have an issue with the vagueness of the term "by-products" because it can encompass everything from very healthy organ means to useless toenails, but I feed a food that lists "chicken liver" as a specific ingredient, and that's fine with me.
 

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I think the real issue with by-products is that they're usually accompanied by other low quality ingredients. Same goes for corn. It in itself is not really a BAD ingredient, it's just that it's usually found with other low quality ingredients (artificial preservatives, meat and bone meal, animal digest, menadione, grain by-products)

Another issue with by-products is when they make up the main "meat" portion of the food. Many low quality foods contain ONLY meat by-product meals as their only animal protein source. I know Science Diet was guilty of this in many of their foods. Using only Chicken By-Products as the sole source of meat.

That said, there's nothing really wrong with meat by-products (given that they're not rotten or from diseased animals) in moderation. I give my dogs chicken feet, tracheas, and other gross goodies often but it doesn't make up their main diet.
 

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I just found some chicken feet at a grocery store in the more international neighborhood area in Sioux Falls. And, um, dude, those things are creeepy. I thought they'd be yellow but they're exactly the same color as my skin. . .yup, creepy. Like feeding people hands to my dogs :eek:.
 

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Maybe I just live in a really diverse area, but pretty much everything on that list, except the trachea, is readily available in supermarkets here as human food products. (Yes, even bully sticks--google "pizzle soup".) Those sorts of things are perfectly edible, for people and for dogs, even if its not something you personally eat.

I have an issue with the vagueness of the term "by-products" because it can encompass everything from very healthy organ means to useless toenails, but I feed a food that lists "chicken liver" as a specific ingredient, and that's fine with me.
Yep, I've eaten half the stuff considered "by-products." Some are quite delicious, some disgusting to me but delicious to others. I have no problem feeding that sorta thing to my dog.

To me, it isn't what the by-products are per se but that it is usually as vague as possible on the labels like "animal by-product", er, what animal?, and that they are often accompanied by ingredients that I find less suitable for my dog. I do feed both grain-free and grain-inclusive and I know that they aren't exactly putting top round in dog kibble, but I want something a little more informative than "animal" as a source of the by-product or meat or fat.
 

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Just wait until the dogs crunch them just right. The tendons will contract and relax.

Max gets lots of by products raw, I like feeding all those odd bits and they can fill niches muscle meat/bone/liver/kidney leave. Heads are awesome big hard to eat meals for instance.

I would be concerned that rendered by products could be dirty, who is going to squeeze the contents out of chicken intestines and rinse them out? Uncleaned gizzards are full of gravel and corn, doubt they get cleaned. I would be concerned that by products could sit for a while before processing and bacteria could get going. You can cook the stuff to death but some bacterial toxins will survive. High collagen materials are lower in protein and that protein isn't as complete as the protein in muscle meat. Lots of collagen in stuff like tripe, trachea, intestines. Max would only get about 35 grams of protein from 10 ounces of tripe where he gets about 55 grams of protein from lean ground beef.
 

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It's all a conspiracy. The by-products are made up of collars, feces, rocks, blankets, corn, small babies, electrical appliances, and old shoes.
 

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I don't have a big problem with named by-products (i.e. 'chicken by product meal') or whatever.

It's really all about clever marketing. But I would agree that often times in foods with by products, you also get nasty chemicals and preservatives, menadione, food dye, sugars, etc, so that's why I tend to avoid them.

FYI, Champion somehow gets around using the word 'by product' but they use lakefish by-products. Marketing! http://www.freshwaterfish.com/system/files/L2PNewsletter Winter 2011.pdf

It appears as though the Freshwater Fish Company used to have their "waste" (minced fish by-products) trucked to a rendering facility. Now they and Champion have an agreement that Champion gets all of it for a large yearly sum.

It appears that Champion has somehow gotten around using the term "by-products" (maybe because the fish is fresh?).

I thought their meat was fit for human consumption, so went to the site to reread. Sure enough, here is what they say:

"All ORIJEN fresh meats (chicken, fish, turkey, eggs) are of table quality and passed fit for human consumption before arriving at Champion.

Our chicken, fish and turkey meals are produced exclusively from animals that are certified as fit for human consumption by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)."

So does that strictly mean they were fit for human consumption "before" they arrived, but have since been separated from the other parts and are now a by-product? It says nothing about if they are "when" they arrive.

I mean, there usually isn't going to be a problem giving by-products to dogs, I just find it odd that Champion is most likely doing this and has gotten around it with different terminology. Freshwater Fish Company does say it is "by-product".
Freshwater Fish is always looking to expand its market
reach and to strengthen existing markets – even non-human
ones!
We recently signed an exclusive arrangement with Albertabased Champion Petfoods, whereby we sell all minced
by-products to them and they in turn buy all the product
we have to offer.
We began working with Champion in 2005 when we
sent them samples of minced by-products for testing after
it was extracted from fish during the filleting process. Prior
to sending the product to Alberta, we had been paying to
have the waste trucked to a rendering facility in Winnipeg.
After the samples were tested by Champion, a product was
developed that met their high quality specifications.
This business brings in several hundred thousand dollars
in revenue for a product that previously cost us money to
dispose of – and we’re thrilled to be building on a relationship
that dates back more than five years.
 
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