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Byproducts, and gluten, and digest: Oh My!

Reading Pet Food LabelsPicking out a pet food these days is no easy feat- entire pet stores are devoted to food alone. Deciphering the label of a pet food can be challenging, and things are not always what they seem. There are a lot of misconceptions these days about what the things on the label mean (especially on the internet!), so we thought we'd help you out.
  • Gluten: gluten is the protein component of wheat and other grains, such as corn. So when you see ‘corn gluten' on a label, this is actually concentrated protein.
  • Animal digest: At first glance, this sounds pretty gross, but in reality animal digest is skeletal muscle and is used for flavoring pet food.
  • Byproduct: Contrary to the popular belief that 'byproduct' is the leftover parts of an animal that no one else wants (ie beaks, feathers, and feet), byproduct actually is the head, neck, and viscera (organs) of an animal. This may sound gross as well, but what does a cat eat first when catching a mouse? You got it: the head, neck, and organs. Internal organs are a huge source of protein and an important part of the diet.
  • Byproduct meal: This is basically byproduct that has been ground up with the moisture removed. If, for example, 'chicken byproduct meal' is the first or second ingredient, you can be assured that protein is a major component of the food.
  • Chicken: This sounds pretty great, huh? What's better than a nice juicy drumstick as the first ingredient in our pet's food? Well, think again. 'Chicken' actually refers to any combination of the meat, skin or bone. When orders for chicken are filled, who do you think gets the meat? People- the bones and skin are saved for pet food companies, but are still called 'chicken'.
  • Thiamine mononitrate: Umm, can you say that again in English? Sure, this is Vitamin B2. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) requires vitamins to be listed on the label by their chemical name. So if you see a long list of things you cannot pronounce, these are probably vitamins.
We hope this helps you out when reading your pet food bags, but if you have any questions, please call!