Are your dog’s kibbles made from waste? – In the Name of the Dog

les croquettes de votre chien sont-elles faites de déchets? – Au Nom du Chien


Pet food is a very lucrative market. In 2015, $77.7 billion worth of pet food was sold worldwide…and that’s typically growing at 3-4% per year! But the real question I would like to ask you is:

Have you ever wondered where the ingredients in your dog’s food come from? Especially the meat…

Do you really believe that manufacturers have ranches and farms where they raise the animals that will go into making your dog’s kibble? If only that was it…but no! Purina, Hill’s, Royal Canin and others do not have farms or ranches. Ask them where the animals used in their food are raised and you will unfortunately not get an answer.

On the bags of croquettes, however, you are shown cubes of bright red beef, plump chicken breasts and fresh vegetables that seem straight out of the market… then we easily imagine a chef in a kitchen preparing the recipe for our dog. In fact, that’s what we WANT to believe (would that be willful blindness?). However, in reality, it is something else entirely. For most companies, they actually get their meat (already processed) from what are called rendering plants .

This industry is (almost) kept secret precisely to hide the truth from you. Moreover, the people who work there must sign a ban on speaking with anyone about what happens there when they are hired there, even after their departure, under threat of legal action. The same goes for the truckers who make deliveries there. It is therefore high time to expose this industry, the one that feeds (or kills?) thousands of our dogs every day.

What is a rendering plant?

First of all, you have to know that the rendering industry exists for one reason only: to transform waste into something usable for another industry. Allow me to reuse an English expression that applies particularly well: “ turn trash into cash ” which means “to transform waste into profits”. This is the ultimate goal of rendering.

In short, it is a processing plant.

Have you ever wondered where:

  • slaughterhouse waste once the good parts of the meat have been removed for human consumption? On average, only 60% of an animal is usable for humans.
  • farm animals that died of various diseases before going to the slaughterhouse?
  • dead animals recovered from the side of the road ? (deer, skunks, raccoons, etc.)
  • dogs and cats euthanized in shelters or veterinary clinics? (Yes, you read correctly…)
  • dead zoo animals ?
  • expired meat from grocery stores?
  • used cooking oils  from restaurants?

Yes, it’s all sent to the same place: the rendering plant.

Once there, everything will be put in a large grinder to make a uniform material, then be cooked at high temperature. The fat will then be separated and the moisture removed (by further cooking) to result in a finished product which will be called “flour of…”. You can make flour:

  1. From a single animal (ex: chicken meal)
  2. From a family of animals (ex: poultry meal)
  3. From any animal (ex: meat meal)
  4. Of the same material (ex: blood meal)

The result can be used for three things:

  1. Feed farm livestock
  2. Make pet food (dogs and cats)
  3. Serve as fertilizer

Personally, it’s the second point that bothers me. My dog ​​is a member of my family and I consider that he deserves good quality food. Fertilize all you want with this waste, but don’t put it in my dog’s kibble (another reason why mine doesn’t eat it by the way).

Did I read correctly? My dog’s food could contain…dead dogs and cats?

Yes…it’s awful and infinitely sad, but it’s legal . Where did you think they went after leaving them at the shelter or the vet? To give you an idea, the city of Los Angeles alone sends 200 TONS of dead dogs and cats every MONTH to the rendering industry.

rendering dogs

What is even worse: a good majority of these dogs die euthanized and what you need to know is that the euthanizing drugs remain in the animal (“the meat”), even once processed by the rendering plant. It’s not for nothing that over the past few years there have been numerous dog food recalls after it was found to contain traces of pentobarbital, the drug used to euthanize pets (an example of a reminder here). This drug is resistant to the cooking process of the rendering industry , which is saying something. Additionally, this drug is NOT used to euthanize large farm animals such as cows and horses, sothe only possible reason for it to end up in a dog food is that the food…contains dog or cat food.

I can already hear veterinarians and TSAs (animal health technicians) telling me “Where is the science behind what you are saying”? Well, in January 2004, the American Journal of Veterinary Research  published a study that concluded that the earlier the ingredient “animal fat” was in a food’s ingredient list, the more likely it was that there are traces of pentobarbital. On the other hand, it will never be possible to prove the presence of dead dogs and cats since the cooking process of rendering destroys the presence of DNA of any animal. How convenient…for the industry, not for us!

Here is a video from 1998 where you will see Hers Pendell, the president (at that time) of the AAFCO (the private entity that regulates the definition of ingredients) saying that:

“It is impossible to know if a meat and bone meal contains cow, sheep, horse…or fluffy (your pet)”

Around the 2000s, veterinarians began to wonder why the animals they treated needed ever-higher doses of anesthetics like pentobarbital. How could they have built up a tolerance to an anesthetic? So they did two studies (1998 and 2000) where they tested foods available on the market to see if there was any presence of pentobarbital. The results showed that some samples did indeed contain pentobarbital. So they just proved the following string:

  1. Dogs and cats are euthanized with pentobarbital.
  2. Many shelters (or veterinary clinics) send dead animals to rendering plants.
  3. These factories turn corpses into ingredients that will be used in making pet food.
  4. Dogs and cats eating their food ingest daily low doses of pentobarbital (which survives the cooking of rendering) and then build a tolerance.
  5. As the dog (or cat) has a tolerance to the anesthetic product, veterinarians must use increasingly strong doses to obtain the same effect.

It’s a bit like an alcoholic who drinks every day, he becomes much more tolerant of alcohol than someone who drinks once a month. We therefore unfortunately find ourselves with dogs who, every day, eat low doses of a euthanasia drug.

Do all veterinary clinics send euthanized animals to rendering plants?

Absolutely not! I unfortunately couldn’t find any statistics (unsurprisingly) but I’m sure a very large percentage of clinics in America pay to have their clients’ animals disposed of in a respectful manner.

Same thing for shelters although I would think that the percentage is probably lower than that of veterinary clinics. What is however ironic is that:

  • Shelters are often sponsored by the giant manufacturers of bad kibble who offer them free food for their residents.
  • The dead animals that will eventually be killed in these shelters will be sent to rendering plants.
  • These corpses will be transformed into “proteins” which will then be purchased mainly…by the giant kibble manufacturers since they use these ingredients as much in all of their formulas, from the lowest-end kibble to the veterinary food lines .

By sponsoring the shelters, it’s a bit like encouraging their own industry in addition to ensuring that they never run out of raw materials…

From a regulatory standpoint according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, dead dogs and cats fall into the meat category called  condemned foods . However, this does not mean that they cannot be used…

A Little Slaughter 101 Course

In a slaughterhouse, animals are inspected BEFORE and AFTER slaughter. Any animal that is not standing on its own or has died prior to slaughter will be classified as condemned(ex: too sick to stand). Any animal after the slaughter in which an anomaly is noticed (ex: a tumor which had not been seen before the cutting into parts) or which will have been contaminated (ex: contact with excrement) will also be condemned. Any condemned meat will be immediately separated from the regular production line. To give you an idea, the place where the condemned meat is stored cannot even have the same ventilation system as the rest of the slaughterhouse. The bins where condemned animals are placed must be identified and ideally of a different color than the bins for edible meat. Then comes another step.

By law, condemned slaughterhouse meat must also be denatured if it is to be reused (to make kibble for example). To denature condemned meat, chemicals are used to alter its look, smell or shape. In short, it must be visually clear that this animal (or animal part) cannot be mistaken for edible meat .

Here are some examples of denaturing products authorized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

  • Coal
  • Various chemical dyes: black, blue, yellow: these dyes have been proven carcinogenic for a long time!
  • Johnson Meat Denaturant by SC Johnson, a product well known for the long list of carcinogenic ingredients it contains.
  • Alternatively, if the slaughterhouse does not want to use these products, it can also mix the condemned meat with intestines or the contents of intestines, ie excrement.

It is illegal to use this meat for anything that will be consumed by a human. However, it is legal to use this meat in the manufacture of animal feed. If you ask me, knowing this, then the FDA’s definition of a safe pet food ingredient becomes a complete joke.

But once denatured by the slaughterhouse, this meat will be sent where? At the rendering plant, of course!

How does a rendering plant work?

The first thing to know is that these factories offer the recovery service. They therefore have trucks (not refrigerated) which, every day, will make the rounds of slaughterhouses, farms, municipal road yards, animal shelters, veterinary clinics, food markets and restaurants. They will recover the carcasses of the various animals there to bring them back to the factory.

Here is a truck coming out of the slaughterhouse after having collected its “merchandise” (perhaps your dog’s future kibble):

On the way to the factory, the truck will probably stop at a few farms to pick up dead animals, one or two butchers to pick up what falls on the floor in a day, a grocery store to pick up its outdated meat… to get there at the end of the day at the rendering plant. Remember, all of this in an unrefrigerated truck. The next photo comes from a beautiful day in July when a rendering meat recovery truck broke down in front of an office building, forcing workers to evacuate the building because the smell was so unbearable.

rendering truck

Once at the factory, all this waste (some would say “ingredients” but I find the word a little too flattering) will be unloaded on the ground (usually outside) waiting to be put by machinery in the big crusher (which people in this industry call “ the pit” ).

Los Angeles rendering plant

Rendering plant yard

But before I get sent to the grinder, I have a few questions for you:

  • Do you think plastic wrap and styrofoam are removed from expired grocery store meat?
  • Do you believe that collars (nylon, leather or flea) or tags are removed from euthanized animals?
  • Do you believe that we treat animals that had cancerous tumors or other illnesses separately?

Unfortunately, the answer to all of these questions is no…because it would take way too long. Time is money and companies are there to make it. We must not forget that they are not in the animal health industry; they are in the recycling industry (of waste into useful products).

So once all this in the grinder, a mixture will come out that vaguely resembles minced meat:

Rendering meat

Le tout sera ensuite cuit à haute température (entre 220-270 degrés Farenheith) pendant plusieurs heures. À cette température, le gras flottera sur le dessus de la mixture et la majorité des virus et bactéries seront tuées. Le gras sera alors récupéré et traité séparément du reste et les deux parties (le gras et la “viande”) seront ensuite chauffés séparément pour en faire des ingrédients distincts. Par exemple, la partie “viande” sera cuite jusqu’à en faire une poudre qui ressemble à ceci, appelée farine de viande et d’os (meat and bone meal):

farine de viande meat and bone meal

Avouons que cette poudre a l’air plutôt inoffensive. Mais l’est-elle autant lorsqu’on sait de quoi elle est faite?

Si vous avez le coeur solide et/ou souhaitez vraiment voir comment ça se passe, il n’y a rien de mieux que des images pour vous montrer ce qui se passe réellement dans une usine d’équarrissage…(note: je vous invite à baisser le volume avant de faire jouer les deux premiers vidéos car le son est mauvais):

Voici une meilleure vue du broyeur (pit): Attention, ce vidéo est dur à supporter

J’ai fait exprès de vous choisir des vidéos où on voit surtout des animaux de la ferme…mais pour les sceptiques, voici une visite d’une usine d’équarrissage à Los Angeles où on y voit très bien de nombreux chiens empilés avant d’être “cuits” (vous pouvez débuter votre écoute à 6:00, il ne se passe pas grand-chose avant) :

Et finalement une autre vidéo (probablement la plus complète bien que la qualité vidéo soit ordinaire) où on voit le processus en entier en débutant par la récupération des chiens dans une clinique vétérinaire, le transport, le déchargement, le broyage et la cuisson…jusqu’au produit fini: la farine de viande et d’os!

Évidemment, certaines usines d’équarrissage sont meilleures que d’autres. Elles peuvent par exemple séparer les espèces, ce qui donnera différents noms de produits “finis”. Parlons-en des produits finis!

Comment savoir si la nourriture de mon chien contient quelque chose qui provient des usines d’équarrissage?

C’est simple: en regardant les ingrédients attentivement. Recherchez des noms très généraux tels que “viande”, “animal” ou “volaille”. Par exemple:

  • Farine de viande: ok, mais quelle viande? Impossible à savoir…
  • Gras animal: ça provient de quel animal? Impossible à savoir…
  • Farine de volaille: le terme général est voulu…ça leur donne le droit d’utiliser n’importe quoi qui est considéré comme de la volaille (poulet, dinde, faisant, etc.). Ceci est problématique spécialement pour un chien allergique car d’un sac à l’autre, la source peut changer et ce même si techniquement, vous achetez toujours le même produit.

Vous aurez compris que plus c’est général, pire que c’est. On pourrait donc dire que de la farine de volaille est déjà mieux que de la farine de viande ou du gras animal qui avouons-le, sont ce qu’il y a de pire dans cette industrie.

Qui réglemente la production de nourriture pour animaux et pourquoi ces ingrédients affreux sont permis?

Si on parle des définitions des ingrédients donc de ce qui peut ou ne peut pas se retrouver dans chaque ingrédient, c’est l’AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) qui réglemente le tout. Qui dirige l’AAFCO? Non, ce n’est malheureusement pas le gouvernement. C’est une entité privée administrée en bonne partie par les dirigeants des fabricants de mauvaises croquettes (Purina, Hill’s, Royal Canin). Alors vous aurez compris que c’est donc le méchant qui décide de ses propres lois. C’est un peu comme si les Hells Angels pouvaient se voter eux-mêmes une loi comme quoi il est légal de faire des meurtres. Sachant qu’un animal sur deux de nos jours meurt du cancer causé en grande partie par la malnutrition (et la sur-vaccination), je trouve que ma comparaison n’est pas si exagérée!

Aux États-Unis, plusieurs autres groupes à différents niveaux d’autorité réglementent la nourriture pour animaux de compagnie. Tout d’abord la FDA (au niveau fédéral) en vertu de la “Loi fédérale sur les aliments, les médicaments et les cosmétiques”. Plus précisément, au sein de la FDA, le Centre de médecine vétérinaire réglemente «les médicaments vétérinaires, la nourriture pour animaux, les additifs alimentaires et les ingrédients.»

Mais en août 2015, la FDA a annoncé la politique suivante:

Aucune mesure réglementaire ne sera prise en considération pour les ingrédients d’aliments pour animaux résultant du processus d’équarrissage ordinaire de l’industrie, y compris ceux qui utilisent des animaux morts autrement que par abattage, à condition qu’ils ne violent pas autrement la loi.”

En plus simple: ils autorisent les fabricants à utiliser n’importe quoi qui a déjà ressemblé à un animal (peu importe sa source, espèce ou condition), tant que c’est destiné à la nourriture pour animaux.

Aussi, chaque État peut avoir son propre organisme qui réglemente la nourriture pour animaux vendue ou fabriquée sur leur territoire. Finalement, le Pet Food Institute, un groupe de commerce qui représente environ 97% des fabricants américains de nourriture pour animaux de compagnie, sert de voix à l’industrie pour s’adresser aux organismes du Congrès, de l’État et du Fédéral. Avec autant de groupes différents réglementant ce qui entre dans la bouche de votre animal, on pourrait supposer que les aliments commerciaux sont sécuritaires. Il est donc paradoxal que cette surrèglementation aboutisse souvent à des propriétaires mal informés et des animaux mal nourris.

Au Canada, c’est l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments qui dicte les règles à suivre pour l’industrie de la transformation animale. Les règles ressemblent énormément à celles des États-Unis et j’y ai mis un lien dans la section Bibliographie. De plus, ce qu’il est important de savoir est que les nourritures faites et/ou vendues au Canada se doivent de respecter les règles définies par l’AAFCO, cette entité gérée par les fabricants de mauvaises croquettes. D’ailleurs, sur le site de l’AAFCO on peut y trouver une série de questions/réponses parmi lesquelles on retrouve:

Question: Est-ce que des animaux “malades, mourants ou morts” sont utilisés dans la production de nourriture pour animaux de compagnie?

Réponse de l’AAFCO (traduction libre):

“Les sous-produits animaux qui peuvent inclure des pièces provenant d’animaux morts autrement que par abattage sont explicitement définis comme condamnés à moins que les sous-produits ne soient rendus conformes aux règlements sur la santé animale et les produits protéiniques pour détruire les micro-organismes potentiels présents dans les produits. Le processus utilisé (l’équarrissage) est jugé adéquat pour contrôler les risques de maladies. »

In other words: of course we use sick or euthanized animals, as well as animals killed on the side of the road as well as animals sick with all kinds of terrible diseases (including cancers) in addition to being able to contain the drug used to euthanize animals, but the ingredients are made safe by being processed through the rendering industry. No, but what a great example of recycling!

Rendering plants, do they even exist in Canada?

Absolutely. Sanimax (whose corporate slogan is Recover, Renew, Return ) is a giant in this industry right here in Montreal, where its Rivière-des-Prairies plant has often made headlines for the strong odors that bother neighboring residents, not to mention the numerous spills from trucks en route to the plant.

Spill Sanimax Montreal

To date, more than $800,000 in fines have been filed against the company, which consistently challenges everything in court. We’ll come back for the good corporate citizen!

On the Sanimax website in the Ingredients for Pets section , you will find a list of 32 ingredients that their factories process. They even have a mobile app for their customers to request a dead animal pickup!

The good news is that Sanimax stopped the processing of euthanized dogs and cats in 2001. Before that date, 18,200 kilograms of cats and dogs were processed every WEEK . But what about other rendering companies? Do you really believe that they will deprive themselves of this lucrative market? Is it prohibited by law? Absolutely not!

So as you can see, rendering plants are really everywhere. Currently, the National Rendering Association  has 51 member companies operating a total of 205 plants in the United States and Canada . Each year,  this industry transforms 56 billion pounds of inedible ingredients.

But if the associations supposed to protect what goes into the composition of my dog’s kibble don’t do it, who will?

The answer is simple: you!

Stop trusting an industry that only seeks to pass its waste on to your dog and educate yourself! Learn to tell the good from the bad ingredients and above all, to recognize the ingredients that come from the rendering industry.

At $35 for a 35lb bag, did you really think they turned T-bones into kibble?

How to recognize what comes from a rendering plant in an ingredient list?

Obviously, you will have understood that ingredients from rendering plants are to be avoided in your dog’s food. These are cheap ingredients and made from questionable raw materials. However, some are worse than others and I will rank them for you. I’m also including English names because I think that’s the best way to recognize them since sometimes the translation can try to embellish an ingredient.

The worst:

  • Animal fat : When cooking the mixture (various animals), the fat will float on top and be collected to be used separately as an ingredient. Generally, companies will spray the kibbles with this fat just before packaging to increase the palatability of the dog. To say that veterinarians are afraid of raw meat…but they sell kibble made with this ingredient! Because yes, these ingredients can also be found in veterinary kibbles. Purina Proplan Veterinary, for example, contains animal fat in almost all of its formulas. Dead, sick, disabled and dying animals before slaughter are permitted.
  • Meat and bone meal : Here, it is the other part of the mixture that we find, which was meat and bone. You can find EVERYTHING I mentioned above: animals picked up on the side of the road, euthanized dogs and cats, expired meat, etc. Again, dead, sick, handicapped and dying animals before slaughter are allowed.
  • By -products ( several variations possible): By-products are what remains on a carcass after all the good parts have been removed. The more imprecise the indication, the worse it is. For example, chicken by-products is slightly better than poultry by-products. It’s still trash but at least it’s trash of the same species! Plus, vets will tell you that by-products also include great parts like heart, liver, and lungs…but rest assured that at the price those parts are selling for (compared to the catch-all that is pennies -products) they are named by name when used in food.It is really bad to know the price of the ingredients to believe that hearts, livers and lungs can be found in a flour of by-products! 
  • Beef and bone meal : Exactly like meat meal but where all parts would come from inedible parts of beef carcasses. It is an ingredient (like the others) of very low quality due to the lack of control in the quality required and used to increase the protein level of a food. Dead, sick, disabled and dying animals before slaughter are permitted.
  • Hydrolyzed Poultry By-Product Aggregate ( Feather Meal ): A complex French name for a product that took them 10 years to succeed without getting dogs sick: feather meal. So it’s a powder made from chicken feathers. In the little nutritious, hard to do better! I have also devoted an entire article to this bad ingredient and its history, which you can read here. This ingredient is also frequently used as a fertilizer:

feather meal

  • Animal digest ( animal digest ): It is a broth created by a chemical or enzymatic process and made of undecomposed animal tissues. Can be made from any type of animal. Dead, sick, disabled and dying animals before slaughter are permitted.

These ingredients are the worst you can find in a pet food, but we could also include these on this list, all from the rendering industry:

  • Flavor/aroma of … ( …flavor ): It is the fat resulting from the cooking of a specific species. So you can have flavor of chicken, beef, pork, etc.
  • Poultry meal ( poultry meal ): Meal made from parts of any type of poultry: chicken, turkey, goose, pigeon, etc. Animals that are dead, sick, disabled and dying before slaughter are allowed.
  • Fish meal : As with poultry meal, fish meal will include several species. The parts included are again those not used for human consumption. The problem though is that these parts, by US law, must be preserved with ethoxyquin which is a dangerous preservative developed by Monsanto and used primarily as a pesticide. It is therefore to be considered if the kibble comes from the United States and contains fishmeal.
  • Poultry fat : Here again, the lack of precision of the term “poultry” is criticized.
  • Liver meal : When you see an animal part listed (ex: liver) but no animal, it means they can use liver from any animal: beef, horse, pork, skunk, etc…
  • Blood meal : A powder made from the dried blood of any animal. You will frequently find traces of antibiotics and growth hormones that have resisted cooking. This ingredient is much better for use as a fertilizer than as an animal ingredient. Besides, am I the only one who doesn’t get it into his head that the same ingredient can so often be a fertilizer AND included in a dog food?

blood meal

What other ingredients should be avoided?

Although they are not made by rendering plants as they are not derived from meat, these ingredients are also to be avoided so you might as well name them as you learn what you should avoid in a food list. ‘ingredients:

  • Powdered cellulose : this is nothing less than sawdust or if you prefer, wood fiber. And yes, it is legal to put sawdust in your dog’s food . It’s obviously not nutritious at all, but it fills his stomach. So you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s an ingredient often used in weight loss foods.

powdered cellulose

  • Corn gluten meal ( corn gluten meal): this is  the sticky residue left over after the corn has been broken down. Serves primarily as a binding agent and should not be found at the beginning of the ingredient list. On the other hand, it is excellent for your lawn!

corn gluten

  • Broken rice  ( brewers rice ): A by-product of the rice industry, these are the fragments left over after white rice has been processed (to make it a more expensive ingredient).
  • Ground soybean bark ( soybean mill run ): By-product of the soybean industry, where only the bark is ground into a fine powder. Used in the manufacture of kibble as a filler with no real nutritional value.
  • Fish  oil ( fish oil ): although many of you will be surprised to see that I include this ingredient in the list to avoid, fish oil is not a good ingredient to add to a kibble for its instability. Fish oil oxidizes quickly on contact with oxygen (as soon as the bag is opened) and will then create micro-fungi (called mycotoxins) on the surface of each kibble. Fish oil is an excellent supplement to give to our dog but we must add it separately ourselves, at home!
  • BHA and BHT : These are two carcinogenic preservatives banned in the human food industry in several countries. On the other hand, they are allowed in the food for our animals…because to date, no dog has yet called to file a complaint!
  • Propylene glycol : This is a solvent, also used in your car’s antifreeze . It is used in dog food as an additive to retain moisture.

propylene glycol

  • Menadione sodium bisulphite ( menadione sodium bisulphate ): Very dangerous synthetic form of vitamin K, not permitted for human consumption and causing numerous health consequences for dogs (toxicity of liver cells, destruction of the immune system, dysregulation of the calcium level, skin irritations, allergic reactions and eczema). Although it’s a name that no one knows (or remembers), it’s to me one of the worst ingredients you can find in dog food.

But these bad ingredients, they are surely only found in low-end foods from supermarkets?

Unfortunately no. These bad ingredients are also found in veterinary kibble formulas . This is the whole problem of this industry: the veterinarian sells kibble at the price of a quality kibble when it is made of low-end ingredients made from waste by the rendering industry .

Here are some examples of veterinary feeds where the ingredients coming from rendering (and those to avoid) have been underlined in red. Notice how often it is the first ingredients (thus those that are found in greater quantity) that come from this industry.

Purina Proplan Veterinarian

Purina Proplan Veterinary

Royal Canin Veterinarian

Royal Canin Veterinarian

Hill’s Prescription Diet Vet

Hills Prescription Diet Vet

Now, for comparison, let’s take some examples of the WORST dog food on the market:





Dog Chow

Dog Chow

Do you notice any similarities between veterinary diets and the worst foods on the market? Yes… the same bad ingredients are present in both cheap food from the supermarket and food bought at high prices from the veterinarian!

When I say this industry is going all out of whack…that’s what I mean! We can’t even rely on the fact that normally when we pay a lot for a product, we have quality.

On the other hand, it is always a pleasure when people come to consult me ​​to tell them that I can feed their dog 3 times better, generally for half of what their old food cost them if they bought it from the veterinarian!

Is the meat intended for rendering found only in the kibbles?

No! If you knew how many raw food companies use this same condemned, denatured meat

How to recognize them?

Generally, these companies will sell their raw meat through “distributors”, that is to say people like you and me who agree to store the meat at their premises where customers will come to stock up. It’s kind of like the neighborhood drug dealer, except he sells trash!

Sometimes they’ll meet you in a mall parking lot and deliver your merchandise from an unrefrigerated vehicle, even in 35 degree heat. On the top of the meat there could be charcoal (agent used to denature the meat) and it could even be that on the bag it is written “inedible meat”. However, the companies will swear to you that they source their supplies from “human consumption” places and name you names like Olymel or others in order to impress you. The thing they forget to tell you is that they get their WASTE from Olymel.

Another good indicator to know if you are buying a raw food made from meat intended for rendering: the price. If you’re paying $1.50 a pound, there’s NO chance it’s NOT rendered meat (or outdated grocery store meat). Think about it, why would a company sell good meat at $1.00 a pound ( I leave the producer a hypothetical profit margin of 50 cents ) to the maker of bad vintage if they can sell that same meat for 4 times that price ? at the grocery store?

And in spite of all that, these people brag about giving raw material to their dog. No, you don’t give raw food, you give your dog waste! At least in the kibbles, this waste has been heated to kill some of the bacteria!

In short, as I always say, there is quality in EVERYTHING. Stop being in one camp (kibbles) or the other (raw). There is good and scrap on both sides.

Hence the importance of buying your dog’s food in a specialized store. Even if it’s a little further away, what are you going to go there…once a month? But above all, you will have what no big box or chain store will offer you: follow-up, real advice given by specialists and… the confidence of knowing that you are doing what is best for your dog!

You no longer know which product to turn to?

So I invite you to read my other articles on my blog where you can learn, among other things:

Are there good ingredients that come from rendering plants?

There are few, but yes. The only good (or should I say less bad?) ingredients that come from these factories are those that specifically name what animal they contain (only one animal at a time) but WITHOUT containing any by-products, for example:

  • Chicken meal
  • Turkey meal
  • duck meal
  • Salmon meal
  • Venison meal

Educational note (but totally optional): Between chicken meal and turkey meal, chicken meal is slightly superior because it has more protein and less ash than turkey meal. Turkey meal contains between 62-65% protein for 18-25% ash while chicken meal exceeds 65% protein for less than 17% ash. 

The advantage of putting flour in a kibble is that the flour has a lot (3 times) more protein than fresh meat . As fresh meat contains 70% humidity and the list of ingredients of a kibble is made in order of importance BEFORE cooking, one can understand that a kibble made only with fresh meat would contain after cooking (therefore a times moisture removed) 70% less meat. The flour, on the other hand, as it is already powdered (so its moisture has already been removed), will keep exactly the same place in the list of ingredients whether before or after cooking.

Protein content flour vs meat

To sum up, if your kibble contains only fresh meat, it means that a good part of the protein in this food will come from the other ingredients, usually grains or legumes, unless the kibble really contains a very large amount of fresh meat.

Of course, we can question the quality of the meat that goes into the composition of the flours, but on the other hand, we can also question the quality of the fresh meat that goes into the manufacture of the croquettes, hence the importance of buying kibbles from a manufacturer we trust and who manufactures their own kibbles and therefore controls the purchase of their ingredients themselves. You would be surprised to learn the number of kibble companies that have offices but no factory, since they have their products manufactured by a sub-contractor.

That said, dogs need as much of their protein as possible from animal sources, so that’s why I personally consider a kibble made with fresh meat + named meat meal (ex: lamb meal) to be the best way. to get there! The fresh meat is there for the quality of the meat and the flour is there to ensure a high level of animal protein.

Another thing I could advise you when choosing a kibble containing a type of flour would be to choose a kibble that is not only sold in its country of production . Let me explain: for a kibble made in Canada to be sold in the United States, the company will have to undergo much stricter government inspections than a kibble made and sold only in Canada. In addition, these inspections for an exported product will go back to each raw material supplier (e.g. the rendering plants supplying the “meat X” meal), which is not the case for a non- exported.

In short, if your kibble is made in Canada but also sold in the United States, it’s an excellent thing and you risk having a better product than a kibble made and sold only in Canada which will be less monitored so may ally with more dubious suppliers.

Be careful, however, because some Canadian companies may have a manufacturing plant in the United States and source American ingredients there (or vice versa). In this case, as the finished product does not cross the border, the principle explained above would not apply. In addition, the quality of Canadian agriculture is much higher than that of the United States (where much more pesticides are used) which will change the quality of the ingredients.

Acana/Orijen have learned this the hard way since they opened a factory in the United States in 2016. A quick search on the internet and you will find many testimonials from Americans who ask to have the Canadian Acana back…because the one made in the United States does not work well for their dog. For once Canadian products are popular, let’s be proud of them! 

In the same product, are there different grades of quality?

According to the rendering industry, there are three grades of quality when talking about meat meal:

  1. Feed grade : very little used in the manufacture of kibble for dogs because it is high in ash and lower in protein. This grade will be used to feed agricultural livestock.
  2. Standard : the most frequently used, it will contain less than 14% ash
  3. Premium : Rarely used, more expensive and available in limited quantities, it will contain less than 11% ash and will generally be reserved for high-end cat foods.


As you can see, each ingredient of a kibble and the way it is named is perfectly controlled. The lack of precision is intentional and allows manufacturers to include animals unfit for human consumption in our dogs’ kibbles.

This industry operates in secret, without the majority of the population being aware. I hope I have helped you learn behind the scenes of this industry which does not exist for the health of our dogs but to recycle waste from the human food industry ! And come to think of it, you have to admit that this industry exists…because we eat meat.

With better informed consumers, we will make better choices for our dogs!


Pet food sales worldwide – Statista

Dog Eat Dog?…The “Cheap” Pet Food Dilemma – 2015


Facility management and disposal of inedible meat products in a registered establishment – ​​Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Questions and Answers Concerning Pet Food Regulations – AAFCO

Rendered Products In Pet Food – Dana Scott, Dogs Naturally Magazine

Pet Food Ingredients – Sanimax

An overview of the rendering industry – National Renderers Association

Sanimax: A Family Story for 75 Years – Render Magazine

Pet food company stops using cats, dogs as ingredients – CBC

Animal Rendering: Economics and Policy – Geoffrey S. Becker, Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Condemned, Denatured Meat in Pet Food – a Cancer Causing Ingredient – Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

Dead Dogs, Dead Cats are used as a Pet Food Ingredient – Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

A Dog-Eat-Dog World – Jackson Landers

EPA Document Proves Euthanized Dogs and Cats are Rendered – Truth about pet food

Are Roadkill And Shelter Pets In Your Dog Food? Here’s How To Know – Liivi Hess

The truth about pet foods and rendering – Dr. Patty Khuly, DVM

Menadione (vitamin K3) – The Dog Food Project

Ingredients to avoid – The Dog Food Project

24 Bad Dog Food Ingredients To Avoid – Amy Dyck

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