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What Is Blood Meal in Dog Food? Is It Healthy?

woman buying dog food

You’re looking at the ingredients of your dog’s favorite dry food and come across this word: blood meal. What is it exactly? Will your beloved pooch benefit from it, or is it a potentially dangerous ingredient?

The term “blood meal” found in the ingredient lists of certain brands of dry dog food refers to blood products as a by-product of slaughter1. In blood meal it is dried and treated to be a high protein food additive. While the Pet Poison Helpline classifies blood meal as toxic to pets, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) advises that this product is suitable for use in pet food, livestock, and poultry feed.

So now you’re probably confused! Don’t worry; we dug deep into the facts to bring you more information about blood meal, so you can make a more informed decision about feeding your dog any foods containing this ingredient. Let’s dive in!

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What the Pet Poison Helpline Says About Blood Meal

Pet Poison Helpline classifies blood meal and bone meal as toxic to pets, but that’s primarily when these types of organic “products” are used as fertilizers. Indeed, the blood meal typically used by gardeners is an excellent organic fertilizer because it contains 12% nitrogen. Also, since it is dried, ground, and flash-frozen blood, this product is also palatable for dogs and cats. Unfortunately, if your dog ingests a large amount of it, they could suffer from gastrointestinal problems, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pancreatitis
  • Iron toxicity

The bottom line is that if you use blood meal as a fertilizer in your garden and you suspect that your pet has ingested it, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Black dog vomiting
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

What the FAO Says About Blood Meal

The FAO of the United Nations states that animal products such as blood meal, meat and bone meal, poultry meal, and feather meal are good sources of protein and amino acids, and some are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, these rendered products are generally easy for animals to digest.

These factors make them important ingredients in pet food in the United States and many other countries around the world. These products can therefore be added to the diets of a wide range of animal species, including dogs and cats.

That said, although modern rendering processes can kill many pathogens, contamination can occur afterward. Still, considerable advances in feed mill technology for the heat treatment and pasteurization of foods greatly reduce the risk of contamination. Blood meal and other animal by-products used in pet food must meet strict federal regulations in order for harmful bacteria to be eliminated and the digestibility of the product increased.

It is also important to note that only traces of blood meal are usually added to dog food. Popular pet food brands typically list organ, tissue, and bone meal as the most common animal by-products in dry dog ​​food. In wet foods, most of the by-products come from animal organs, including livers, kidneys, and spleens.

dog eating dog food
Image Credit: Ayla Verschueren, Unsplash

Which Dog Food Brands Have Blood Meal in Their Ingredient List?

Blood meal used as an ingredient in dog food is not likely to cause digestive problems for your pet and may even be an excellent source of protein and nutrients. Using this product as an organic fertilizer, however, could lead to gastrointestinal issues if your pet ingests a significant amount.

Although it’s not strictly necessary, if you want to avoid blood meal in your pup’s diet at all costs, here is a list of dog food brand recipes to avoid:

man buying pet food
Image Credit: LADO, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

You want to give your furry best friend the best nutrition that they deserve, and navigating the sea of information out there isn’t always easy. Blood meal is an ingredient that may raise a few eyebrows, but rest assured that you’ll only find traces of it in pet food brands that include it in their products. In addition, they must follow strict federal regulations to ensure that their products meet the highest industry standards. However, if in doubt, you can always choose dog foods that do not contain blood meal and ask your veterinarian for advice.


Featured Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

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