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

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?

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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. 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. 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.

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. Chicken 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.

Our Top 3 Choices for Affordable Dog Food Made with Chicken Meal

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 three brands reviewed below:

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. 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. 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. – Buy It

Whole Earth Farms Adult 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. 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. – Buy It

Nature’s Variety Prairie Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

The Prairie brand of food is manufactured by Nature’s Variety, the same company that makes the Instinct line of dog foods. Prairie 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. This brand uses high-quality ingredients, but they still manage to keep their prices affordable. All of their recipes are free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial additives. This brand also coats their kibbles with a layer of freeze-dried raw food for a boost of nutrition and natural flavor.

For a high-quality dog food that is still very affordable, this Nature’s Variety Prairie Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is a great option. This formula starts with fresh chicken as the main ingredient, but chicken meal comes right behind so you can rest assured that it will meet your dog’s need for meat-rich protein. This recipe features whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and barley which offer plenty of carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber with excellent digestibility. For healthy fats, this formula includes a combination of chicken fat and flaxseed, plus some fat from the menhaden fish meal. You’ll also notice plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on the list – these provide supplementary fiber as well as natural sources for key vitamins and minerals. This recipe is also supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient uptake and dried fermentation products for probiotic benefits. – Buy It

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.

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