Chicken meal is a nutrient-rich ingredient commonly found in many high-quality dog foods. Made from chicken meat and bone that has been cooked to remove moisture, chicken meal is prized for its concentrated protein and essential amino acid content.
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What Exactly is Chicken Meal?
Chicken meal refers to chicken meat and bone that has been mechanically separated from the bone, ground, and cooked at high temperatures to remove excess moisture. This renders the chicken into a dry, powdery concentrate, resulting in a very digestible and protein-dense ingredient.
On dog food labels, you may see “chicken meal” or “chicken meal concentrate.” It’s important to note that chicken meal differs from chicken by-product meal, which can contain non-muscle chicken parts like feet and feathers.
How is Chicken Meal Made?
Chicken parts are cooked in giant industrial cookers to create chicken meal, removing about 80% of the moisture. This leaves behind a concentrated, easy-to-digest source of essential amino acids and protein. The high temperatures used in processing also eliminate potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens.
Nutritional Benefits of Chicken Meal
Chicken meal offers a powerhouse of nutrition for dogs. With its high protein content and balanced amino acid profile, chicken meal supports lean muscle development, quick recovery from illness/injury, and overall growth in puppies. Some key nutrients in chicken meal include:
- Protein – Supports muscle growth, tissue repair, and enzyme production
- Lysine and methionine – Essential amino acids for healthy skin/coat
- Calcium and phosphorus – Important for bone health
- Zinc – Supports immune system function
- Vitamin B6 and B12 – Aid energy metabolism and red blood cell formation
The Importance of Chicken Meal in Dog Food
Thanks to its stellar nutritional profile, chicken meal offers valuable benefits when included in commercial dog foods:
- Highly digestible, bioavailable source of complete protein
- Nutrient-dense – more minerals/vitamins than fresh chicken
- Supports growth, development, and maintenance of muscle mass
- Aids dogs recovering from illness or injury
Check the ingredient list when looking for quality dog food with chicken meal. Chicken meal should be listed near the beginning, indicating it is a primary ingredient. Also, look for reputable brands that source high-quality chicken meal free of additives or preservatives.
Feeding Your Dog a Nutritious Diet
Chicken meal can provide valuable dog nutrition when used appropriately in commercial pet foods. Work with your veterinarian to select a high-quality food tailored to your dog’s life stage and activity level. Chicken meal provides energy and amino acids to fuel the development and activity for growing puppies or athletic dogs. For less active adult dogs, moderate amounts of chicken meal supply maintenance levels of protein and important nutrients. You can give your dog a nutritious, species-appropriate diet with the right balance of quality ingredients like chicken meal.