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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend

chicken meal

When shopping for a high-quality food for your dog, you need to pay special attention to the information provided on the package. Don’t be lured in by lofty health claims or pretty pictures – the important information is on the back of the bag.

The most important place to look when evaluating the quality of a pet food product is the ingredients list – this is where you want to see premium proteins like fresh meat, but don’t be put off if you see the word “meal” attached to one or more of the proteins. Keep reading to learn more about what a meat meal is and to learn the specifics about chicken meal.

What Exactly is a Meat Meal?

When you are reading the ingredients list for dog food, there are certain buzz words to look for. Anything with the word “by-product” in it is bad, and you don’t want to choose a product that relies heavily on unnamed sources for proteins and fats. But what about meat meal? Meat meal is a confusing ingredient for some pet parents because it can vary significantly in quality.

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to tell the difference between a high-quality meat meal and a low-quality meat meal. What’s the deciding factor? The word that comes before “meal”. If it’s a specific type of meat meal like chicken meal or salmon meal, you can assume that it is a high-quality ingredient.

Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 1

Certainly of higher quality than any unnamed meat meal like poultry meal or fish meal. These ingredients aren’t necessarily low-quality, but it is impossible to determine the quality by name alone.

Though you might be hesitant to purchase a pet food that lists chicken meal as the primary protein instead of fresh chicken, you might want to think twice. Fresh meat like chicken can contain as much as 80% moisture by volume.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 2
American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato RecipeIs Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 3
  • High-protein dog food
  • Grain-free dog food
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Top Choice
Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 4
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies RecipeIs Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 5
  • Real U.S. farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Made with simple, natural ingredients
  • Crafted in USA
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Most Popular
Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 6
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog FoodIs Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 3
  • Grain-free recipe
  • Highly digestible recipe
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Remember, the ingredients list for pet food products is arranged in descending order by volume – this means that the ingredients with the highest volume are listed first. So, while fresh meat might appear at the top of the list, you have to remember that most of the moisture content is going to cook out.

In the end, you could be left with a much lower volume of protein than originally. Meat meals solve this problem. Chicken meal is simply fresh chicken that has already been cooked to remove moisture – this makes it a much more highly-concentrated source of protein. In fact, chicken meal has up to 300% more protein by volume than fresh chicken.

Our Top Choices for Dog Foods Made with Chicken Meal

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 8
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies Recipe
  • Real U.S. farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Made with simple, natural ingredients
  • Crafted in USA
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 9
American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • High-protein dog food
  • With omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Grain-free dog food
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 10
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food
  • Grain-free recipe
  • Highly digestible recipe
  • With proprietary K9 strain probiotic blend
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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 11
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Recipe
  • High-protein and grain-free recipe
  • Made with real deboned turkey, turkey meal and chicken meal
  • Kibble is coated with probiotics
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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 12
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  • No corn, wheat, soy or chicken
  • Glucosamine is added
  • Vitamins, chelated minerals and antioxidants
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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 13
Under the Sun Grain-Free Adult with Chicken
  • Crafted with farm-grown fruits and vegetables
  • Packed with probiotics, antioxidants and omegas
  • Features a single-animal, quality protein from chicken
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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 14
Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe
  • With multiple protein sources
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors or colors
  • Made with no corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-products
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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 15
Instinct Be Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Made with cage-free chicken
  • With added vitamins and minerals
  • Each kibble piece is tumbled with crushed freeze-dried raw chicken
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
Chicken and chicken meal are two of the most commonly used protein sources in dog food. But just because a recipe contains chicken meal as the main ingredient doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good choice for your dog – you still have to go through the steps of evaluating the quality of the product based on the other ingredients used.

If you think that a chicken meal-based food might be the right product for your pup, we recommend one of the brands reviewed below:

  1. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies Recipe Dry Dog Food
  2. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  4. Wellness CORE Original Deboned Turkey & Chicken Meal
  5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice
  6. Under the Sun Grain-Free Adult with Chicken
  7. Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe
  8. Instinct Be Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

1. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutrish is the pet food line of celebrity cook Rachael Ray. It features recipes inspired by Rachael’s kitchen and comes with the tagline of, “Real Recipes. Real Ingredients. Real food.” The specialty meals offer pets a taste of yummy food that is also completely nutritious. What’s cool about the brand is that part of the sales proceeds go to animals in need.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 16
The Nutrish line focuses on providing pets wholesome food with real animal meat as the first ingredient balanced by veggies and rounded off by prebiotics for a healthy digestive system.

The Nutrish line focuses on providing pets wholesome food with real animal meat as the first ingredient balanced by veggies and rounded off by prebiotics for a healthy digestive system. There are no gluten, wheat, fillers, by-product meals, or anything artificial to be found in the recipe.

For this particular recipe, chicken has the starring role. Fresh chicken is supported by chicken meal to get the protein content up to 26%. It relies on dried peas for a plant protein boost and soybean meal for a high dose of folic acid, lysine (an amino acid), fiber, and potassium.

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Because whole corn isn’t that digestible, the brand instead put in ground up corn in the mixture for digestibility and to provide the meal with the carbs they need for energy. For insulation, energy, and cushioning, Nutrish added chicken fat. This ingredient also adds an aroma component to the food, which makes dogs more eager to eat.

To make it a complete and balanced meal, there is dried beet pulp to add prebiotics to the diet, brown rice for fiber, and numerous supplementary vitamins and minerals.

2. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

The house brand of Chewy.com, American Journey is known for its steadfast promise of using only natural ingredients and never including wheat, poultry by-products, fillers, or soy in its recipes. Its dog foods are divided into rice-mixed and grain-free categories, which usually feature sweet potato for its excellent carbohydrate and nutrient content.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 17
Known for its steadfast promise of using only natural ingredients and never including wheat, poultry by-products, fillers, or soy in its recipes. Crafted for pups of varying ages who crave for exceptional meaty flavor.

The Grain-Free range is designed to keep active, grain-sensitive dogs in perfect health and provide them with enough energy to last them throughout their daily adventures. It’s crafted for pups of varying ages who crave for exceptional meaty flavor and was developed to target brain and eye development, skin and coat health, and an improved digestive system.

Real deboned salmon fuels most of the protein content here and is also an excellent source of DHA, a crucial element in the neural development of dogs. DHA also plays a role in the development of a canine’s retinal function and central nervous system.

The salmon also gives a healthy dose of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, with both working to make a beautiful and shiny coat your dog.

Chicken meal plays a supporting role as far as meat content is concerned, but it delivers a lot of protein into the mix. The crude protein in this recipe is at a high 32%, much higher than the content of plenty of other dry dog food brands.

Keeping it wholesome, American Journey has turned to superfoods like dried kelp, blueberries and carrots to keep the phytonutrients and antioxidant levels in this formulation at a high level.

And with a caloric content of 390 kcal/cup, super active dogs or those who need to gain weight will truly benefit from this recipe.

3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula

Taste of the Wild is a premium dog food brand made by Diamond Pet Foods, a big pet food manufacturer that also makes Diamond Naturals, Kirkland, and more. The focus of the brand is to give dogs a high protein meal from unique animal meat based on the diet of ancestral canines.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 18
Provide dogs a high protein meal from unique animal meat based on the diet of ancestral canines. Taste of the Wild cut out the grain, gluten, corn, or wheat from the recipe. There are also no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.

Each of the recipes in the range start off with a novel protein. In this case, it’s buffalo. Supported by other animal proteins such as lamb meal, chicken meal, roasted bison, roasted venison, and ocean fish meal, each serving of the food is a complicated yet tasty treat for meat-loving doggies. Because there’s plenty of animal sources in this mixture, the protein content is quite high at 32%.

The sweet potatoes and potatoes are healthy alternative carbohydrate sources to grains. Because it’s supposed to mimic the diet of dogs in the wild and keep it suitable for food-sensitive dogs, Taste of the Wild cut out the grain, gluten, corn, or wheat from the recipe. There are also no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.

Fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, blueberries, and tomatoes deliver all the vitamins and minerals that your pup needs to support his overall health. The dried chicory root provides prebiotics that promote the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut, while the K9 proprietary blend of probiotics further support the development of a healthy digestive system.

All of Taste of the Wild’s ingredients are taken from sustainable and trusted sources to ensure only the best-quality meals for your pup.

4. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Recipe

Wellness is a company that believes in utilizing a simple and holistic approach when it comes to dog food. For 100 years, the company has been crafting natural pet food that is founded on superior nutrients and ingredients and the use of probiotics for overall canine health.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 19
Focuses on delivering high-protein meals that are grain-free but big on flavor. It’s based on the nutritional philosophy that dogs thrive on a natural diet that is composed mostly of meat.

The CORE dog food range, in particular, focuses on delivering high-protein meals that are grain-free but big on flavor. It’s based on the nutritional philosophy that dogs thrive on a natural diet that is composed mostly of meat, so each CORE recipe contains a healthy amount of protein along with super foods and supplements.

For the CORE Original recipe, deboned turkey is the main star. It’s a lean white meat that gives off lots of highly-digestible protein. To make the meal’s protein content even better and to boost the flavor, Wellness added turkey meal, chicken meal, and turkey liver into the mix.

The combination of these protein sources resulted in excellent levels of crude protein, which is pegged at 34% — a higher than average content for dry dog foods.

Because digestive health is crucial, each kibble is coated with probiotics to promote the growth of good bacteria that helps your dog digest food, absorb nutrients, and keep bad bacteria down which may make your pet sick. Plus, the food is enriched with fruits and veggies like kale, broccoli, apples, spinach, and blueberries for a truly healthy feast.

There are no undesirable ingredients in this recipe such as meat by-products, soy, corn, wheat, and artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. It’s all pure, nutrient-dense food that keeps your dog well in all ways.

5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Carefully formulated by veterinarians and animal nutritionists, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula contains all the ingredients you need to give your dog the healthiest possible food. Each recipe contains the trademark LifeSource Bits that is a holistic blend of 7 carefully selected vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system for all life stages.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 20
Carefully formulated by veterinarians and animal nutritionists. Each recipe contains the trademark LifeSource Bits that is a holistic blend of 7 carefully selected vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system for all life stages.

Every formula starts with real meat (in this case, chicken) then enhanced by whole foods (brown rice, barley, peas, blueberries, cranberries, and more) that are known for their nutrient content. There are never any soy, wheat, corn, or poultry by-product meals in the recipes.

The two sources of animal protein here are chicken and chicken meal. The two, combined with peas, help the crude protein content reach 24% — a good enough amount that is about average the content of dry dog foods for most brands.

Aside from the nutrients provided by the fruits and veggies in the mix, Blue Buffalo also added some supplemental ones to target the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones, healthy muscles, and enhanced joint health and mobility.

There’s a healthy amount of calorie for each cup of this meal courtesy of the brown rice. At 378 kcal/cup, each feeding should support your dog in gaining weight and maintaining it. An active pup who is constantly on the move will also do well with the slightly raised calorie content.

6. Under the Sun Grain-Free Adult with Chicken

The Under the Sun brand is manufactured by Canidae, one of the top brands of natural pet food. Canidae is an independent and family-owned company that offers high-quality pet foods made with premium ingredients.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 21
Under the Sun brand is manufactured by Canidae. Canidae pet foods also come at a premium price – that’s where Under the Sun comes in. The Under the Sun brand was designed to offer quality nutrition for dogs at a more affordable price point.

Unfortunately, Canidae pet foods also come at a premium price – that’s where Under the Sun comes in. The Under the Sun brand was designed to offer quality nutrition for dogs at a more affordable price point.

These products are still made with fresh, natural ingredients, however, so you can feel good about feeding them to your dog. Under the Sun offers a variety of products for dogs in all life stages as well as different breed sizes. This makes it easy to pick the formula that is perfectly suited to meet your dog’s unique nutritional needs.

If you’re looking for an affordable recipe made with chicken meal as the main ingredient, consider this Under the Sun Grain-Free Adult Dog Food with Chicken. This formula features protein-rich chicken meal at the top of the ingredients list with gluten-free, grain-free carbohydrates to follow.

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Green peas, chickpeas, and yellow peas provide carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber as well as essential nutrients. The main source of fat in this formula is nutrient-rich chicken fat, supplemented with flaxseed for a balance of skin- and coat-supporting omega fatty acids.

This recipe is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient uptake and it contains a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients. All in all, it is a high-quality formula made with chicken meal.

7. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Recipe

In the same way that the Under the Sun brand is a more affordable version of Canidae pet food, the Whole Earth Farms is a more moderately priced member of the Merrick Pet Care family.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 22
Whole Earth Farms follows the tagline, “Feed goodness from the earth,” and they are a brand dedicated to providing wholesome, naturally nutrition pet foods at a great value.

Whole Earth Farms follows the tagline, “Feed goodness from the earth,” and they are a brand dedicated to providing wholesome, naturally nutrition pet foods at a great value. All of their products are made in the USA using high-quality, natural ingredient to ensure fresh flavor and complete nutrition.

Their products offer excellent digestibility, increased energy, and healthier skin for your dog. This brand doesn’t use any corn, wheat, or soy ingredients and their products are free from artificial additives, by-products, and ingredients sourced from China.

If you’re in the market for an affordable recipe made with chicken meal, try this Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe Dry Food. This formula features protein-rich chicken meal as the main ingredient with turkey meal right behind and fresh chicken later in the list.

All in all, this formula offers a crude protein content of 26% and a crude fat level of 13%. For carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber, this recipe relies on whole grains like oatmeal, pearled barley, and brown rice which offer excellent digestibility for most dogs.

There are also supplementary sources of fiber like alfalfa meal and dried blueberries. If you take a look at the ingredients list, you’ll find that this recipe is made with a select number of key ingredients plus healthy supplements to ensure nutritional balance. Many of these supplements consists of chelated minerals and probiotics.

8. Instinct Be Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Instinct believes in real food and the power of raw nutrition. It’s known as the Raw Brand, and it works on delivering the superior benefits of raw food in a way that’s accessible to everyone. Every batch of food it makes is crafted in its own facilities to ensure that the food is held to the highest quality standards.

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Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 23
Instinct pet foods are made with fresh meat, hearty whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables in balanced recipes designed to offer holistic nutrition for dogs in all life stages.

The Be Natural range by Instinct is focused on giving your dog meals made with natural ingredients, high animal protein, no fillers, and freeze-dried coating on every piece. Every recipe starts with two real meats followed by hearty grains.

There is no soy, poultry by-product meal, wheat, or brewer’s rice in the mixture. You won’t also won’t come across any artificial flavor, preservative, or color in the food.

The kibbles are freeze-dried and as minimally-processed as possible to keep all the goodness in. So your pet only gets flavorful meat and pure nutrition to support lean muscles.

The first ingredient in this particular recipe is cage-free fresh chicken followed by chicken meal in a bid to boost the protein content of this recipe. It succeeds at 25% minimum crude protein, just a little bit higher than the average amount usually found in dry dog foods. The hearty grain in this recipe is brown rice.

Not only does brown rice provide lots of carbohydrates to energize an active doggy, it is also an excellent source of fiber for digestive health and Vitamins B and D for a properly functioning heart.

Because super foods provide the daily vitamin and mineral needs of dogs, there are also cranberries, apples, blueberries, and carrots included. A menhaden fish meal ingredient assures that there will be an ample supply of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the formulation.

The Nutritional Benefits of Chicken Meal

Now that you know the truth about what chicken meal is, you may be wondering about its nutrient profile. Chicken meal generally contains about 10% moisture and about 12% fat – the protein content is a whopping 65%. Compare that to fresh chicken and you’re looking at something closer to 70% to 80% moisture with about 18% protein and about 5% fat.

Don’t be worried about the higher fat content in chicken meal, either. Chicken fat is one of the most nutritious sources of fat available to dogs – not only is it a concentrated source of energy but it is loaded with linoleic acid, an important nutritional element for your dog’s skin and coat health.

Is Chicken Meal a Good Ingredient in Dog Food? 8 Recipes we Recommend 24Chicken meal also contains concentrated levels of selenium, phosphorus, choline, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. All in all, it’s a pretty great ingredient for your dog.

Not only is chicken meal one of the most meat-rich and nutritious sources of protein for dogs, but it is also one of the less expensive proteins so you can find an affordable product that offers decent quality.

If you are looking for a quality food made with chicken meal as the main protein, consider one of our top-rated brands reviewed above.

Is chicken meal better than chicken in dog food?

Chicken meal is simply fresh chicken that has already been cooked to remove moisture – this makes it a much more highly-concentrated source of protein. In fact, chicken meal has up to 300% more protein by volume than fresh chicken.

Is meal good in dog food?

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.

What is the difference between chicken meal and chicken by product meal?

By-product meal is made of the waste material left over after the parts for human consumption have been removed. By-product meal can contain things like feet, bones, heads and feathers, etc. Chicken meal is made of only chicken muscle tissue, though the sources of that chicken can be questionable.

What is chicken meal in dry dog food?

While chicken meal is the protein-packed dry and rendered clean flesh, skin, and/or accompanying bone, dog food with chicken by-products contain the nutrient-rich parts of a chicken that remain after meat is removed, such as the lungs, spleen, liver, and kidneys.

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