The Difference between Chicken and Chicken Meal



This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts.


When it comes to dog food ingredients just what is the difference between chicken and chicken meal.

Most pet parents these days are very aware of what is in their pet’s food. As we humans look for organic and whole foods in what we eat, we also want our pets to eat healthy and nutritious food.

AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), is in the business of controlling what goes into pet food. You want to look for the AAFCO letters on the dog food you buy.

I had to do a lot of research on this. Understand dog food ingredients is not easy. You have to get through a lot of minutiae to get to the truth.

When chicken is the first ingredient in dog food, this is a good thing. This will also be the more expensive dog food.

AAFCO defines chicken as a clean combination of flesh and skin with no bone; it excludes feathers, heads, feet, and entails (I know yuck!).

Chicken in itself has a lot of moisture about 70%. This causes it to weigh more and put it to the top of the ingredients listing on the label.

Chicken meal is basically chicken with most of the moisture removed. Reducing it to about 10% moisture.

Chicken meal as the first listed ingredient on your dog’s food label in essence means that they are getting more protein in their food, because this chicken has most of the moisture removed. More chicken meal is added to get it to the top of the list of ingredients.

I will be the first to admit before I researched this, I turned my nose up at any food that did not list chicken as the first ingredient.

I can tell you that whether it is chicken or chicken meal as the first ingredient they both provide the amino acids and protein that your dog needs.

The reason I decide to write this post is that if you are on a tight budget, chicken meal is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing.

The importance is the supplier of the chicken. If you do a little research, you can sometimes find the suppliers information online. Not all dog food manufacturers are forthcoming with this information. When they are not, beware!

When you think about it pound for pound chicken meal provides more nutrients at a lower cost, for those of us that are on a tight budget this is great news.

Don’t let “chicken meal” as the first ingredient on the label scare you away from a particular dog food.

Want to get the low down on chicken meal. Check out this entry at Wikipedia to get a better understanding of it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please comment or send me an email at

Until Next Time

Pawsitively Yours,

Suzanne Dean, ABCDT

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