Blood products and blood meal might not be what you are looking for when you are reading the ingredients of your chosen dog food. Not only does it sound quite disgusting, but in the process of manufacturing foods, some find it quite disturbing. Blood meal may be included in your dog food legally as long as the source of blood is from healthy livestock. So what do you need to know about blood meal in your dog's food?
Purpose and Makeup
Blood meal is a legal protein source for manufactured dog foods in the United States. Blood meal is rendered from fresh animal blood exclusive of animal fur, urine, and stomach contents. Blood product can stem from other parts of the bodies of livestock used for manufacturing dog food. Blood meal and other blood products are byproducts of a slaughterhouse. Used as an additive, usually in lower quality dog foods, blood meal increases the overall protein content of the dog food. Blood meal is typically a dry powder that is used in dog food to extend the protein source within the food. Blood meal is generally considered a poor source of protein because of its indigestibility for dogs.
Process and Sources
The production of blood meal involves the mechanical removal of most of the moisture from the blood and turning it into a semi solid mass. This blood mass is dried quickly to the point where the last bit of moisture is removed. The end result of processing blood meal is a dry powder. Blood meal has uses in agriculture as well as a protein extender in dog food. Because the source of blood meal is not always known, you may not know what other substances are in the blood meal found in your dog's food. Another unknown might be the type of animal the blood comes from during slaughter. Blood meal blood could possibly contain residues of antibiotics, medications, or hormones given to the livestock before slaughter and can carry Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.
Uses and Precautions
Blood meal is often used in gardening, and may make a better fertilizer than an additive for dog food. The nitrogen content found in blood meal added to soil fertilizes plants and crops, making your garden beautiful. However, a bag of gardening blood meal left where your dog can get it can be irresistible, yet dangerous, for your dog. The smell of blood meal can be quite tempting for your dog, causing him to tear into it and eat as much as he can. Too much blood meal can cause pancreatitis or less severe symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Make an Informed Decision
There are two sides to the debate about blood meal in dog food. Many dog owners, veterinarians, and dog food manufacturers do not believe it belongs in dog food. It is a protein extender, which makes it basically a filler. Some higher quality foods do not add blood meal to their food and tout using higher quality ingredients to eliminate the need for fillers. On the other hand, some top-end brands use blood meal and claim it is a useful protein. Unless you decide to feed your dog a raw, whole food diet straight from your kitchen, your garden, and your butcher, you are likely to find blood meal in some, if not many or all, of the manufactured dog food products you purchase.