It’s a dog’s breakfast: trying to figure out what’s in pet food

It’s a dog’s breakfast: trying to figure out what’s in pet food

The pet food industry sums up what people think about advertising when they’re feeling especially cynical.

It’s shady, sketchy and more than a little dishonest.

Descriptions are twisted and turned. Words are left out. Others are honed to a fine edge, perfect to stick in your eye.

Does it have to be this hard?

No, it doesn’t. But this is big business, very big business. It’s estimated that last year alone, in just the United States, we spent more than $23 BILLION on pet food. So no wonder the stakes are so high when it comes to competition. Even the tiniest increase in market share can deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars to a company’s bottom line.

And it’s why pet food makers take short cuts, use the cheapest possible ingredients and hate to follow rules and regulations. They just don’t want us to know what’s in pet food.
dog looking at kibble on the ground


FAIL: What’s in this food?

Unless your Morkie is a vegetarian, you’d expect to find meat in his food. But not so fast… When it comes to the source of protein, there are several things to remember.

  • There’s “meat”
  • There’s meat by-products, and
  • There’s “meat meal”


About Meat

“Meat” is the muscle that is stripped off a slaughtered animal, which can include what’s attached, such as fat, skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels.

If a pet food says “meat” instead of the specific source of meat like beef, lamb or chicken, then beware. You don’t know where the meat has come from. It can be from animals that didn’t make it to the slaughterhouse and died on the way (The infamous 4-D meats, dead, dying, diseased and disabled.) It can be road kill. It can be other dogs, picked up after they’ve been euthanized at the pound or shelter.

Bottom line, look for the specific source of meat.


Meat by-products

plate of chicken feetBy-products are the polite word for sh*t you wouldn’t consider eating or feeding to your pet. Chicken by-products for example, include beaks, feet, the head, bones, intestines and even some feathers that stick to the rotting by-products.

Again, if the source of meat by-products isn’t name, the nightmare doubles. It’s disgusting parts from unknown or mystery animals. At least beef by-products, for example, come from cattle despite being parts your don’t think can be food.

Bottom line, avoid by products. And especially avoid meat by-products, versus a named protein by-product.


Meal meal

Author Ann N. Martin describes a rendering plant in her book, Food Pets Die For. By-products and waste from the slaughterhouse pile up on the factory floor. Maggots thrive in the barrels of dead dogs and cats, snakes, roadkill, deer, foxes, spoiled grocery store meats still in their foam packaging and more.

This stuff is then picked up by front end loader and dumped into a huge vat, where it’s boiled and boiled — or rendered — down into a concentrated sludge of horrifying goop. At the same time, a grinder rips into the mess, popping bones and joins, and tearing skin apart. After cooking and grinding, the mess is spun by centrifugal fore to remove the fat. It’s measured and added back in to the food as “animal fat.” Again, not identified by type of animal. Because how could it be?

Finally the rendered material is dried to a highly concentrated protein powder.

Bottom line, if a meat meal is made from an identified source of protein, such as beef, it does offer more protein, although it’s from pretty unappetizing parts of the animal. But “meat meal” or even worse, “meat by-product meal” means you can’t get a worse food to feed your Morkie.

Look for a specific type of meat in your Morkie’s food. Period. Chicken meat, beef meat, lamb meat and so on.

Best small dog food for your Morkie

Best small dog food for your Morkie

Feeding your Morkie right is vital. That’s because you can’t afford to fill up his tiny stomach with junkie food or unnecessary calories.

To stay healthy and happy, your Morkie needs protein, a good source of fat, some carbohydrates and key vitamins and minerals. And of course, these ingredients must be in the right ratio – too much of one or the other can be unhealthy.

What’s the best food for your Morkie?

When it comes to feeding your Morkie, there are so many choices.  It can be difficult to try to decide what’s best. And the more you read the more confusing it can get.  This is my personal recommendation based on research and experience with small dogs. It works well with picky eaters too.

recommended foods

This combination of good quality commercial food (both dry and canned) plus some raw treats and occasionally my own (dog food) cooking, has kept my dogs healthy and lively for many years.  Two of my Maltese lived past their 16th birthdays and I attribute a good diet to a large part of that. And plenty of kisses of course 🙂

If you’re new to small dogs, you might not know this: make dietary changes very slowly. Otherwise you’ll pay. With diarrhea mostly, but often vomiting too. If your Morkie does have an occasional upset stomach, you might find Pepto-Bismol does the trick.



The author of this blog is not a trained dog health professional. It is the reader’s responsibility to consult with a licensed, practicing Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine (DVM) (or equivalent in your country) before making any changes to your method of feeding, grooming or any other matter of dog care for any dogs for which you have any responsibility or contribute, in any way, to his or her care. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own Veterinarian.

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