What Is Chicken Meal In Dog Food: The Real Deal On Protein Meal

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If you’ve ever wondered, “What is chicken meal in dog food?” you’re not alone. Chicken meal, along with real chicken meal and chicken by-product meal, is a common ingredient you’ll find in many types of dog food as well as dry cat food. This article will give you the real deal on what chicken meal is and why it’s often used in pet food.

What Is Chicken Meal In Dog Food?

Chicken meal is chicken meat cooked to remove most of the water and fat, leaving a concentrated source of protein. Unlike fresh chicken, chicken meal is a meat meal, meaning it has a higher protein concentration. This is one of the reasons why it’s found in many commercial pet foods. It’s packed with amino acids that dogs need for good health.

What is Chicken Meal in Dog Food?
What is Chicken Meal in Dog Food?

How is a chicken meal made?

The cooking process for making chicken meals involves taking parts of the chicken rich in protein and cooking them down. Unlike protein alternatives to chicken, chicken meal is made from real chicken parts. The cooking process helps to remove excess water and fat, so what’s left is a concentrated form of protein that many dog food brands use. And this is quite similar to the chicken meal in cat food.

However, it’s important to note that chicken meals may not be a good choice for all pets, depending on their specific health needs.

So, when you see that dog food contains chicken meal, it’s a way to give your pet the protein they need, although it may not be a good fit for all dietary requirements.

Chicken Meal Vs. Whole Chicken: What’s The Difference?

“What is chicken meal in dog food?” is a question many pet owners have. Below is a table to help you understand the key differences between chicken meal and whole chicken as ingredients in pet food.

FeatureChicken MealWhole Chicken
Made fromPowder-like due to the rendering processCombination of chicken flesh and sometimes chicken carcass but without bones
TextureUsually cooked, it can also be raw chickenRegular chicken
ProcessRendering to remove water and fatSome people think the chicken meal is bad
Protein levelsHigh protein concentrationLower protein levels
Good forStool qualityDogs with allergies might find this easier
Common OpinionsSome people think chicken meal is badViewed as more natural by many dog owners
QualityConsidered high-quality by pet food manufacturersHigh-quality food
Extra infoNo 4D meat or feathersNo 4D meat
The differences between chicken meal and whole chicken

The choice between chicken meal and whole chicken should be based on your pet’s specific needs. Both are quality ingredients, but they offer different benefits. Read the labels carefully to make the best choice for your furry friend.

Is Chicken Meal A By-Product?

One common question is, “What is chicken meal in dog food?” Specifically, many dog owners are curious about whether chicken meal is considered a by-product. So, let’s set the record straight.

Clarification on chicken meal

Firstly, chicken meal is not a by-product. It is made from quality chicken parts, usually the flesh, and sometimes other parts like necks. These parts are then processed to remove water and fat, creating a concentrated protein source that is good for dogs. Chicken meal is often listed as an ingredient in high-end pet food, underscoring its quality.

Comparison with other by-products

In comparison, you’ll also come across a chicken by-product meal in dog food. Unlike chicken meal, this is a by-product. It consists of the less desirable parts of the chicken, like feet and intestines. While not inherently bad, these by-product meals are generally considered lower quality than chicken meals.

So, the next time you shop for dog food, knowing these differences can help you make an informed choice.

Safety And Nutritional Value Of Chicken Meal

Many pet owners often wonder about the safety and nutritional value of ingredients in dog food. So, what is chicken meal in dog food when it comes to these aspects? Let’s dive in.

Safety And Nutritional Value Of Chicken Meal
Safety And Nutritional Value Of Chicken Meal

What nutrients does chicken meal offer?

  • High in Protein: Chicken meal is a rich source of protein, which is essential for muscle development and overall health.
  • Nutrient-Dense: Lacks high levels of water, providing more nutrients by weight.
  • Essential Amino Acids and Minerals: Provide the building blocks necessary for good health.

Is it considered a high-quality ingredient?

Yes, chicken meal is generally considered a high-quality ingredient. Many premium dog food brands include chicken meal because of its excellent nutritional profile. When you see a chicken meal listed on a bag of premium dog food, you can often take it as a sign that the product has a focus on dog nutrition. It is also commonly included in recipes alongside whole foods, providing a balanced and hearty diet for your pet.

Reading Pet Food Labels

Guide on how to spot chicken meal on pet food Labels

When you’re buying dry dog food, it’s crucial to understand how to read the ingredient list. If you’re interested in foods containing chicken meal, you’ll usually find it listed as ‘Chicken Meal’ on the pet food nutrition label.

Remember that ingredients are often listed by weight, so if chicken meal is high on the list, it usually means it’s a primary ingredient. Knowing this can help you determine whether chicken meal is a good source of protein in the dog food you’re considering.

Other ingredients

When chicken meal is included in dog food, it often comes with other food ingredients like grains, vegetables, and sometimes, natural chicken. These ingredients work together to offer a balanced diet for your dog. Here’s a quick list of some common ingredients you may find alongside chicken meal:

  • Grains like rice or barley
  • Vegetables like carrots or peas
  • Fats like chicken fat or fish oil
  • Natural chicken or chicken liver

Reading and understanding a pet food nutrition label is key when choosing the best food for your pet. Knowing what is chicken meal in dog food and what other food ingredients typically accompany it, you can make an informed decision contributing to your pet’s long-term health.


Is chicken meal better than chicken in dog food?

Chicken meals have more protein packed into them and are usually cheaper, while the whole chicken is more natural but can cost more. Both are good for your dog, depending on what your vet says and your dog’s specific health needs.

Is chicken meal and rice good for dogs?

Yes, a mix of chicken and rice can be a tasty treat for most dogs and help settle an upset tummy.

Is the first ingredient in dog food chicken meal?

If the first thing you see on a dog food label is “chicken,” it means the food includes fresh chicken, like the kind you’d cook for yourself.

What is the chicken by-product meal in Royal Canin dog food?

Chicken by-product meal in Royal Canin dog food is made of ground-up chicken parts, like necks and feet. These are clean parts, but they don’t include feathers.

Should I feed my dog chicken meal?

Cooked chicken is good for dogs and is often used in dog food. It’s rich in protein, which is important for your dog’s health. You can give your dog cooked chicken by itself or add it to their regular meals.


Understanding what is chicken meal in dog food is crucial for making informed choices about your pet’s nutrition. Knowing the difference between chicken meal and other protein sources can help you pick the best food to meet your dog’s health needs. So, next time you scan pet food labels, you’ll be better equipped to decide what’s good for your furry friend.


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