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Home > Dogs > What Is Ash in Dog Food? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

What Is Ash in Dog Food? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve been checking out the nutritional label on your dog’s bag of food and your first thought was something along the lines of “What the…?!” when you spotted “ash” listed—you can stop worrying now. Dog food manufacturers are not putting ashes in your dog’s food!

In short, crude ash refers to the food’s mineral content. In this post, we’ll explain exactly what is meant by the term “crude ash” to put your mind at ease.

divider-paw What Exactly Is Crude Ash?

When testing dog foods, scientists incinerate the food, which then allows them to check how many calories it contains and its levels of protein, fats, and fiber. When the food is incinerated, protein, fats, and fiber will burn. However, the minerals—like phosphorus, calcium, zinc, potassium, and magnesium—do not burn and are left behind as remnants after the food has been incinerated.

This is what’s referred to as “crude ash” and it is how the tests determine the food’s mineral content. Again, these burnt ashes are not added to your dog’s food. They just help scientists check the food’s mineral content, which is then put on the food’s nutritional information label under “crude ash.” In Europe, it’s a legal requirement for dog food brands to declare the crude ash content.

dog food in wooden bowl
Image Credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

How Much Crude Ash Does Dog Food Contain?

This depends on the type of food you’re giving your dog. Dry foods typically contain between 5% and 8% ash but can be as high as 10%, whereas wet foods typically contain 1%–2%.

It also depends on the type of meat the food contains. Meats with lower ash levels include chicken and fish, whereas red meats tend to contain more ash. Meats with less bone have a lower ash content, like high-quality meats. Foods with lower ash quantities are healthier for your dog than those with a high quantity of ash nearer to 10%.

Is Ash Safe for My Dog?

Dog foods containing “ash” are safe for your dog—it’s just a normal part of dog food and shows that the food contains minerals, which dogs need in their diets to develop healthily. Also, dog food brands have to abide by certain nutritional and safety standards laid out by the law, so in short, if you see “crude ash” on your dog’s food label, you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about.

As mentioned, however, it may be best to stick to foods lower in ash, as these tend to be better for your dog and are of a higher quality. Also, to be clear, you should never add actual burnt ashes to your dog’s food!

divider-paw Summary

So, we’ve established that finding the term “crude ash” on your dog food’s nutrition label simply refers to the mineral content of the food, and does not mean that the food actually contains burnt ashes. If you see “crude ash” labeled, it doesn’t mean the food is bad for your dog.

It’s just a normal part of testing and establishing mineral content, and minerals are essential if your dog is to grow and develop properly, which is why they have to make up a certain percentage of your dog’s food. We hope that we’ve been able to put your mind at ease!


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Featured Image Credit: dogboxstudio, Shutterstock

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