It’s important to read labels on your dog’s food, but do you really know what some of these common terms mean? We’re here to explain what three common dog food ingredients are for you.

Here are 3 common terms that our Killingly-area veterinary hospital wants to help define!


1. Byproducts

You might see this word and think “YUCK!” Before you get too grossed out, let’s discuss what “byproducts” are.

According to the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) chicken by-products are “the ground, clean parts of the chicken.” This can include:

  • Internal organs
  • Bone
  • Cartilage

Although these aren’t common things that humans eat, they are a valuable source of nutrients for pets.

Royal Canin, the brand of food we carry at Quinebaug Valley Veterinary Hospital, “only uses high-quality by-products, like hearts, livers and lungs.” (Read more about that on their site).

2. Grain-free

Grain-free might mean that your pet’s food is free of corn, wheat, rice, etc, but did you know that dogs are more commonly allergic to proteins?

The most common food allergies for dogs are:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Wheat

So, yes, there is a chance that your dog might need a grain-free diet. However, if your pet is showing allergic symptoms, it is more likely to be a protein, like chicken or beef, causing the issue. If you have concerns, set up an appointment with Drs. Lambert or Blakeslee to have your dog tested for food allergies.

3. The first ingredient listed

Does it matter if “chicken” or “chicken meal” is listed first on the label? According to Royal Canin, “Ingredients must appear in descending order of their weight in the diet.”

Say you see “chicken meal” listed before “chicken.”

What does that mean? Essentially, “the total weight of the ingredient includes the water content. And since chicken meal is chicken with water and fat removed, it weighs less than chicken but actually can contain a higher percentage of protein.” (Source.)