Question by Bordered: What does chicken meal and barley do in dog food?
I was looking at my dog food brand and the first ingredients are Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley and Chicken Fat. I was wondering if barley and chicken meal is terrible in dog food, and what it is and does for the dog, I don’t know if I’m confusing chicken meal or chicken by product meal, or if it is the same thing? I also don’t know what barley is doing in dog food and is it harmful for the dogs stomachs?

Best answer:

Answer by firefly_in_nh
Barley and chicken meal are considered “higher quality ingredients.” Although barley is considered better for your dog than some other ingredients, whether it should be fed to your dog depends on who you ask. Same goes for chicken meal and chicken by-product meal. To understand whether these ingredients are good or bad for your dog, it helps to understand what the terms in the ingredients mean and how your dog digests them.

The terms that can be used to describe the ingredients in your dog’s food are regulated by the government. Poultry meal is defined as, “Poultry meal is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails” (“Poultry Meal,” p. 1), and poultry byproduct meal is defined as, “Poultry by-product meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices” (“Poultry Meal,” p. 1). So basically, by-product meal has heads, feet, etc, and meal has a more balanced content. There is an interesting article at The Dog Food Project at that explains why one is better for your dog than the other.

Grains in your dog’s food at all are problematic because dogs are not built to eat grains; in the wild they would eat primarily meat, with some fruits and vegetables should the opportunity present itself to them. The only time they would eat grains is in consuming the stomach contents of their prey. However, each grain has a different level of nutrition it provides to your dog, and which is “the best of a bad lot,” as it were, depends on how digestible it is for the dog. Corn and wheat are considered especially bad for dogs, and other ingredients like barley or rice are considered more healthy. The tricky part is is separating fact from popular fiction to understand whether you truly are feeding a healthy food to your dog.

To learn more, check out the links I’ve included below–I think you will find them interesting.

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