Shocking Ingredients in Your Dog's Food

Dogs and cats are responsible for the consumption of about 25% of animal-derived calories in the US. That's huge! But where are all these animal products coming from?

Meat used in pet food and meat used in human food are, more often than not, two totally different things. You may be surprised to know the true origin of some of these pet food meat products, especially when the ingredients list uses vague descriptors.

The meat sources

Very commonly, pet food companies use the cheapest meat source available: 4-D meat. This meat is considered unfit for human consumption.

What is 4-D meat?

Meat derived from animals that are disabled, diseased, dying or dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse. 

In addition to 4-D meat, unwanted body parts like skin, tendons, brains, intestines, and reproductive organs are gathered from slaughterhouses to be sent to rendering plants.

Also added to the mix is spoiled supermarket meat (often still in its styrofoam packaging), roadkill, and euthanized shelter animals. Essentially, any animals or animal products that would otherwise be considered waste.

The quality

In addition to questionable sourcing, meat-based pet food ingredients are at risk for contamination due to poor quality control. Most meat is produced on factory farms, where livestock are injected with growth hormones and live in extremely unsanitary conditions. Feces, blood, and other bodily fluids are all intermixed with the byproducts that are sent off to rendering plants to form the base of pet food. Unsurprisingly, product recalls are not uncommon.

What about plants?

Our pups deserve better than byproducts, not just because the concept is gross to us, but because low-quality ingredients can be detrimental to their long-term health. According to Dr. Armaiti May, DVM, many vets believe that the increase in incidences of cancers, kidney failure, and other degenerative diseases in our pets may be due to the harmful ingredients in many commercial meat-based pet foods. With sketchy meat sourcing being so common (and so hidden from the public eye), how do we ensure we're putting only good stuff into our pups' food bowls?

Nutritionally complete and balanced plant-based diets offer an alternative that takes the guesswork out of ingredients labels. Instead of having to decipher what "chicken meal" really means, you'll know your pup is getting clean, animal-free ingredients that reduce their risk of exposure to contaminants. A cruelty-free diet also avoids unnecessary harm to farmed animals who suffer through unimaginable confinement, mistreatment, and slaughter on factory farms.

Learn more about the benefits of choosing plant-based for your pup:

Top 4 Risks of Meat-Based Dog Food

Top 5 Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet for Dogs


Since 2005, v-dog has made it easy to feed your pup a nutritious and cruelty-free diet. V-dog kibble offers health benefits like improved digestion, reduced allergy symptoms, and weight management for pups of all shapes and sizes. Check out some of the thousands of thriving v-dogs on our testimonials page.

Where do Vegan Dogs Get their Protein?

The Risks of Meat-Based Dog Chews

Is it Less “Natural” to Feed your Dog Plant-Based?

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