Dog Behavior Series 12 – What Are Rendered By-Products in Dog Food?

Do you want to know what it means when dog foods contain rendered by-products? Keep reading to discover why you should be concerned about what your dog is eating and how it can affect your dog’s health and behavior.

Warning: This segment contains an ugly truth that is disturbing and also contains adult graphic material not suitable for children. Please ensure your children do not read this segment, nor do I recommend you continue to read this segment if you are faint of heart.

My last segment, ‘What is the Best Dog Food’, Dog Behavior Series 11, left many of you with a question that I’m going to answer for you today. That question arose with my comment to avoid rendered by-products or meal in your dog food selection. So now, I am asked, what are rendered by-products?

So what are rendered by-products?

Rendered by-products is the processing of dead animals of every sort for use in the manufacturing of pet foods: diseased cattle, tumor-ridden chickens, road kill, zoo animals, dogs and cats from veterinarians and shelters, spoiled grocery store meats not fit for human consumption, rancid restaurant grease, toxic chemicals, and other unsavory additives.

We see pictures of whole grains, prime cuts of meat, and human grade vegetables on dog food bags. We assume there is a chef in a pet food kitchen cooking up the best for our loved ones. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Most of what makes up dog and cat food comes from the rendering plant.

Chickens, lambs, cattle, swine, and other animals are slaughtered for food. Usually, only the lean muscle is cut off for human consumption. This leaves about 50 percent of a carcass left over. These leftovers are what become what we so commonly find on dog food labels, such as meat-and-bone-meal or by-products. Your dog is eating lungs, ligaments, bones, blood, and intestines. But that is not the worst of it. I must warn you again. This segment contains adult graphic material not suited for children or the faint of heart.

Some other things that go into the rendering process are dog collars of euthanized pets and Styrofoam food containers and plastic wrap from spoiled supermarket meats. Animals that are referred to as the 4-D’s are also added to the rendering process: Dead, dying, diseased, and, disabled.

Keep reading if you want to know more about the horrifying truth the dog food industry is hiding from you.

When the remains of slaughtered animals and the 4-D’s arrive at the rendering plant, they are put in a huge vat and shredded, then cooked 220 to 280 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes. After it cools, the grease is removed from the top and used for animal fat. The rest is pressed and dried and used for meat and bone meal in dry dog foods. Dogs would not eat it if not for the smell of animal fats that are sprayed on the dry, bland dog food to make it appetizing. These flavors usually come from rendered restaurant grease, animal fat, or other oils unfit for human consumption.

Some pet foods may contain substances that are toxic to animals, including Propylene Glycol, an antifreeze component and known animal toxin that is poisonous to cats and dogs; and Mycotoxins, a group of toxins that are produced by fungus that occurs in grains. It is always a good idea to check the Consumer Affairs website for any class action lawsuits, past and present, against dog food companies to ensure you aren’t buying those brands.

As pet owners we should ask ourselves, “Are we feeding our pets contaminated food?” Our pets can’t read the ingredients, but we can.

I will now quote a story by Keith Woods, an independent television Producer based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But I must warn you again. The following story is true. According to Keith Woods, The San Francisco Chronicle buried the full story February 1990. ABC Television’s 20/20 similarly watered down the content. Then, “The Dark Side of Recycling,” by Keith Woods was finally published in its entirety by the Earth Island Journal in the fall of 1990.

This is his story.

“The rendering plant floor is piled high with raw product. Thousands of dead dogs and cats, heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons, all waiting to be processed.

In the ninety degree heat, the piles of dead animals seem to have a life of their own as millions of maggots swarm over the carcasses. Two bandanna-masked men begin operating Bobcat mini-dozers, loading the raw into a ten-foot deep stainless steel pit. They are undocumented workers from Mexico doing a dirty job.

A giant auger at the bottom of the pit begins to turn. Popping bones and squeezing flesh are sounds from a nightmare you will never forget. Rendering is the process of cooking raw animal material to remove the moisture and fat. The rendering plant works like a giant kitchen.

The cooker or chef blends the raw product in order to maintain a certain ratio between the carcasses of pets, livestock, poultry waste and supermarket rejects.

Once the mass is cut into small pieces, it is transported to another auger for fine shredding. It is then cooked at 280 degrees for one hour. The continuous batch cooking process goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as meat is melted away from bones in the hot soup.

During this cooking process, the soup produces a fat of yellow grease or tallow that rises to the top and is skimmed off. The cooked meat and bone are sent to a hammer-mill press which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the product into a gritty powder.

Shaker screens sift out excess hair and large bone chips. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, meat and bone meal.”

Knowing what we now know about the raw product of the food rendering industry, note that poultry fat does not necessarily come from slaughterhouse chicken or even from chicken. It can come from anywhere, including 4-D animals; dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter. It might be chicken, or it might be turkey, geese, buzzard, seagull, unidentifiable road kill with wings, or a pet bird euthanized at an animal shelter.

For obvious reasons, poultry by-products are less expensive than chicken muscle meat, but they are also less digestible. Dogs deficient in high quality protein at the cellular level are often constantly hungry. An inexpensive pet food with by-products is not a bargain if you are feeding twice as much of it to your dog in an attempt to satisfy his hunger.

So who is looking out for you and your dog? It is not the industry organizations. It is not the pet food manufacturers. It is certainly not the FDA. It is you. You are now more knowledgeable on the topic of rendering and now know how to take better care in your choice of dog foods.

Remember that any ingredient called by-product, meal, tallow, animal fat, or grease is almost certainly a rendered product.

Hope you enjoyed this segment on Dog Behavior, specifically on the topic of what are rendered by-products in dog food, and hope you walked away with something of value. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to my channel on YouTube. Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to seeing you inside my next article. Please like, share, comment, and subscribe. Until next time. Bye Bye.