The vital role of real meat and bone meal in your pet’s diet

By Sophie Lavallée M.Sc., Agr.

Did you knSophieow that both the amount of protein and the quality of proteins consumed by dogs and cats is critical to their growth and health? Dietary proteins are essential nutrients that play vital metabolic roles such as producing hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes.

Although real meat is often seen as better for pets than bone meal, most pet foods contain both. So what’s the difference between real meat and bone meal?

Real meat contains more water, undergoes very little processing, and contains less protein than bone meal, a source of protein that is heated to increase the concentration of nutrients. Combining real meat and bone meal is therefore a good way to increase the amount of protein in your pet’s diet. In addition, owners also have to look at the quality of the dietary protein.  

Proteins are essentially chains of amino acids (AA) that break down during digestion and interlink once again to create other proteins with vital metabolic functions. There are essential amino acids (EAA) which pets can’t make on their own and must therefore get from their diet, and non-essential amino acids (NEAA). In its guide, the AAFCO (Association Feed Control Official) has established minimum requirements for essential amino acids.

As you can see in this chart indicating the complete amino acid profile of real meat and bone meal, the essential AA ratio is higher in real meat than in bone meal.

Combining real meat and bone meal is therefore the best way to give your pets the correct amount of high quality proteins they need at every stage of their life.

What about plant proteins? The proteins found in plant-based ingredients can also play a role in your pet’s diet. But since they don’t contain essential amino acids like lysine and methionine, L-Lysine (synthetic amino acids) must be added to meet the AAFCO’s minimum requirements.

We hope this information on the vital role of real meat and bone meal in your pet’s diet has been helpful to you. Feel free to contact us should you require further information.


Interview with Greg Aldrich, PhD. Pet Food & Ingredient Technology, Inc.

The National Research Council (NRC) in 2006 updated its published Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Nutrient Requirements of Cats

AAFCO. 2012. Association of American Feed Control Officials: Official publication.

Mortec Laboratories