Blood Meal — Dog Food Ingredient or Fertilizer for Your Garden?

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Blood and blood products. Sometimes we simply have to stop and ask ourselves — are some of these dog food ingredients for real?
Blood Meal is a Fertilizer

Actually, they are. On pet food labels it’s not unusual to find items like:

  • Animal plasma
  • Blood meal
  • Dried blood

In dog food, blood products can be controversial.

Although some argue blood is a natural part of a dog’s ancestral diet, many are disturbed to find these items listed on a label.

A By-Product of
the Meat Packing Industry

Although some companies insist blood meal is a high quality source of animal protein, this particular pet food ingredient is actually a by-product of slaughterhouse waste.

Because blood products can carry BSE (mad cow disease), the FDA has banned their use in making feed for cud-chewing livestock.

However, so long as these products come from pork (or horses), blood can still be used to make cattle feed.1

Although no cases of BSE have ever been reported in dogs, cats are susceptible to their own version of mad cow disease — a deadly disease known as FSE.2

And that’s what seems to worry most opponents.

Dog Food — or Plant Food?

The truth is, blood meal is more commonly used as a fertilizer to feed crops. Not dogs.

Just the same, many dog food companies insist animal plasma and blood meal add quality nutrition to a commercial dog food.

That’s because blood-based ingredients like these are not only rich in protein, they’re also low in ash.

So, as long as the source of these uncommon ingredients can be identified, they can still be considered safe and nutritious.

In any case, blood products are certainly controversial enough to qualify them to be highlighted on a dog food ingredient list.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Once again, Ross. My article is not about blood products (in general).

    It is specifically about blood meal.

    And again, it was published over 4 years ago, when government rules did indeed prohibit the use of blood meal in cud-chewing farm animals.

    Just the same, it may be true (now) this ingredient may be legally used in farm feeds in the U.S..

    However, the European Union has continued to ban the use of blood meal from feeding to farm animals since 2000, though since 2006 blood meal from non-ruminants is now authorized for use in aquaculture (farm-raised fish).

    In any case, even though it may be nutritious, there is certainly enough reason to continue to classify blood meal as a controversial ingredient.

  • Ross C.

    You specifically mention “animal plasma” in the first paragraph. That is what I am commenting on. Also, if it was meant to be an unbiased piece, you would have not used the donkey manure picture and you might have mentioned all the science that supports the use of blood products like plasma protein. By the way you are incorrect about the ban. Blood and blood products even from ruminants may be fed to ruminants, as they are exempted materials at the current time.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    With the “utmost courtesy and due respect”, my article was not about blood products. It was about blood meal. And it was designed to show:

    1. That blood meal is a by-product of animal slaughter (slaughterhouse waste)

    2. That many pet food buyers are typically “disturbed” to find blood meal on a pet food label

    3. That the FDA has banned the use of blood meal in cud-chewing livestock (except certain sources as duly noted)

    4. That blood meal is more commonly used as a plant fertilizer or a farm feed supplement and only rarely used to make dog food

    5. And most importantly, that blood meal is at least controversial enough to qualify it to be red flagged on our product dashboard.

    I stand by every one of these statements, especially the last.

    By the way, this article was published over 4 years ago to allow everyone — including dissenters like you — to post their own opinions about this ingredient.

    And to stimulate open discussion.

    Not to be a “sensational piece” as you so sensationally claim in your remarks.

  • Ross C.

    Dr. Sagman, with the utmost courtesy and due respect, your thread on blood products was meant to be a “sensational piece”. There are in fact USDA procedures for the taking, storing and processing of blood that is used in blood products for animal feed. Also, every USDA plant has a full-time USDA inspector there. You make it sound like they just stick an empty milk container or dirty bucket under the vein of the animal and sell it. There are 48 peer reviewed papers showing the benefit of adding blood products to animal feeds. Also, the term “by-product” is purely relative. In some parts of the world what we call “by-products” are called “dinner.” I would like you tell a Lousiana Cajun that his Boudin Rouge is “slaughter house waste.”

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Your comment is intentionally misleading.

    You said, “Referring to [blood meal] as ‘slaughter house waste’ misses the point that blood from pigs, cows and chickens is purposely harvested from animals to make this product. It is not an afterthought like is suggested. Also, blood meal and blood plasma protein are not the same thing.”

    Did you say the blood identified as “blood meal” on a dog food label is “purposely harvested”?

    How do pet food companies “purposely harvest” blood? Like the Red Cross collects human blood to save lives?

    According to most accepted descriptions, blood meal is truly a by-product of animal slaughter.

    The fact it is separated from other liquid waste (like urine) doesn’t change the fact blood meal is still a by-product of slaughter — also known as “slaughterhouse waste”.

    Also, by the way, I never stated that blood meal and blood plasma are the same thing — only that they are both “blood products”.

  • Ross C.

    There are dozens of peer reviewed studies on the benefits of blood plasma protein using a variety of animals in the studies. There was one published in 2004 on dogs that found including it increased the digestibility of dry food. The product has been shown to increase digestibility, reduce infant mortality and reduce bacterial infections in the gut of several animals. Blood plasma has made it possible to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals raised for human consumption because it has such a beneficial effect. Referring to it as “slaughter house waste” misses the point that blood from pigs, cows and chickens is purposely harvested from animals to make this product. It is not an afterthought like is suggested. Also, blood meal and blood plasma protein are not the same thing.

  • Jessica Evans

    We buy dried blood for human consumption which is used to make black pudding.

    We add a level teaspoon of dried blood and mix it with a mug of warm water and then put it over the dogs dinner. In the summer we also make ice cubes with the blood and they are a great home made treat.

    We also have a friend that races his dogs and has found the blood mixed with water is a good supplement for endurance and success.

  • Crazy4cats

    I’m not too concerned either. Just like you, surprised to see this article saying it is a red flag ingredient when it is not red flagged on the review. It does sound icky though. Lol!

  • Pattyvaughn

    It sounds icky, but I’m not concerned about it. Blood does have some good things in it. Some of that is lost because this is plasma we’re talking about rather than whole blood, but I’m OK with it.

  • Crazy4cats

    That’s what I was thinking. I did a search and found that Dr. Tim’s Has it also. It is not red flagged either. I’ve been transitioning to Natures Logic and so far really good. I hope this ingredient isn’t too much of a concern.

  • Pattyvaughn

    If you hadn’t posted this I never would have known that it was a red flag ingredient. The one food that I could think of that I knew had dried porcine plasma in it is not red flagged, which is Nature’s Logic.

  • Hatt man

    Animal plasma is red flagged because Monsanto doesn’t make it.

  • Hatt man

    So basically this is not a bi product or waste. It’s the first thing harvested from the pig. People cook pork meat with blood still in it less than we do for dogs and they eat it. This is a very healthy supplement for dogs.

  • Hatt man

    I spray dry pork plasma for a living. We then sell the product to feed mills and makers of dog food. The blood is drained from the pigs, then spun to separate plasma. The liquid plasma is sent to me where I spray it at 2500 psi through spinner nozzles into the dryer. The spray is backed by 400 degree air which kills anything that MIGHT be in it and turns it to powder which is almost pure protein. Then it is shipped to feed makers and used as a sterilized powder ingredient. We are not even required to use dust masks around this stuff because it is do safe. I feed floor sweep straight to my dog (a tiny bit at a time) instead of buying expensive high protein food.

  • Jackie B

    Thanks for talking about this Mike. I spotted animal plasma as one of the ingredients in the My Little Wolf grain-free treats Petsmart has started carrying, and I wasn’t sure what was up!

  • Pingback: Blood Meal and Animal Plasma… Dog Food Ingredients or Fertilizer? « lulufightscancer()

  • Joftieloco

    Plus the fats like chicken fat are deemed to be a quality product based on many reviews from this site. The fat comes from the rendering process which is skimmed off the top of the material that’s cooked so how would the fat be a quality ingredient and the blood not?

  • Joftieloco

    I asked NL where they get their plasma from but they did not disclose the vendor. They did indicate that it is derived from human edible material. NL did make The List from the truth about pet food….and Susan swears they’re a reliable company…

  • Joftieloco

    Assuming the plants follow proper protocol. I would not like deceased pets, with chemicals in their bodies to be added to the plant, nor diseased livestock.

  • Joftieloco

    At proper USDA rendering plants, blood and bone meal go through rigorous processes to ensure all metals, bacteria and viruses are filtered out. One of the first phases is to remove dangerous metals. Then all matter is cooked at very high temperatures and filtered several times. Fat is skimmed into liquids and solids. This is used as the chicken fat, turkey fat, beef fat etc in most foods listed on this site. So those worried about plasma might as well worry about the fat too. Assuming the plants are running properly, the fats ans plasmas should be safe. Further more, most of the pigs, cows and chickens we consume have also been fed some kind of plasma in their diets. Plasma is a much safer nutritional source than synthetically engineers chemicals. I have contacted natures logic regarding whom they obtain plasma from. There are many rendering plants all around us. My company is actually completing energy efficiency projects at Valley Proteins in Baltimore, MD. In regard to sustainability and life cycle analysis it seems that consuming all of the animal is better Thea wasting. All meat eating humans wind up eating blood and cellular structures in meat. This is what makes it beneficial. As long as the plants insure proper safety protocols and run with latest technology, plasma, bone meal and fat by products should be safe.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Shameless… The search button is back in operation. Not sure how it got deleted. And regarding blood, I’m in complete agreement with you and Brad. However, since there does seem to be some (unjustified) concern over blood ingredients, animal plasma is now red flagged. As I mention in the article, animal plasma is probably a safe and healthy addition to any dog food.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    After reading Brad’s comment, I scanned the article about controversial blood products in dog food. Not that I’m concerned. My dog gets blood drippings from his meat and our meat.

    Like Brad mentioned, animal plasma is an ingredient in Nature’s Logic. I looked on the review pages for Nature’s Logic, Dry and Canned. Yes, animal plasma is listed. But the ingredient isn’t red-flagged on either page.

    Mike, you write “Blood products are certainly controversial enough to qualify them for inclusion on the Dog Food Advisor’s list of Red Flag Ingredients.”

    I’ve seen some other reviewed foods that have blood ingredients, but I don’t remember the brands. I don’t find the Search button anymore to easily find ingredients.

  • Brad C.

    I have been feeding dog foods with animal plasma for over 15 years now. I have never had any issues except for they are the healthiest dogs I have ever had. If one would really do some serious diligent research, one would find most pet food recalls are due to wrong formulations of all the Man-made Chemical Synthetic Vitamins and/or Minerals that are used in pet foods. Synthetic vitmine D3 is one of the most toxic. I even discovered that synthetic Vitamin D3 is use in rodentcides in Wiki Pedia. It will take the kidneys out. Check out Rodentcides in Wiki Pedia
    When over dosed, it cause hypercalcimia (elevated blood calcium) causing the rodent to go into renal failure.
    The facts are if you eat any kind of meat, you are eating plasma in the liquid form. Meat has blood in it and blood has plasma in it. Now just think of all the dogs and cats that die every year of renal failure. Could it be drop by drop of Synthtic Vitamin D3 supplement day after day?

    My dogs are now living longer than any of my previous dogs that where not fed plasma.
    My vet clinic’s CN educated me on the dangers of synthetic vitamins and mineral about 10 years ago now. She convinced me that the synthetic vitamins and minerals are the real lurking dangers in pet foods and our own foods. All one has to do is Google: Synthetic Vitamins, Dangers. Mountains of articles will pop up.

    In my opinion, these are the most dangerous things in pet foods and in our own diets. Just look at what the American Cancer Institute is finding on Synthetic Vitamins.

    I have never read one article that plasma has killed a dog or cat.

    By the way, with more research, one will find most synthetics vitamins and minerals in pet foods are manufactured in China.

    Isn’t that GREAT!!!

    Is that really what you want to be feeding your pets.
    How short our memorier are that it was China that spiked pet food ingredients with melomine in 2007 to boost protein levels killing thousands of dogs around the world.

    I also got myself off all synthetic vitamins over 10 years ago.
    At age 60, my blood chemistry and hematology is perfect. My doctor was jelous, not one number was out of line.

    By the way, my first two dogs died of renal failure. I often wonder if it was all the vitamin D3 supplement found in every pet food out their.

    I now feed Nature’s Logic because it is the only line that does not add Chemical vitamins. And yes they do use plasma. Thank you NL for helping to keep my dogs so healthy.
    prior to NL, I fed alot of Wysong All meat cans for the plasma they had in them.

    Has anyone put two and two together that dogs that eat raw are the healtiest. Could it be that blood plasma that is in the raw. My dog also get alot of Raw beef. Free of any Chemical Vitamins.

    Brad

  • Sara

    Nature’s Variety Instinct kibble (the new Beef formula one) has plasma in it. I definitely would stay away from it, no question! It is not just mad cow disease but other diseases that can be contracted through blood products.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Sarah… Yes, animal plasma is used in some dog foods. Use our search box to find out which ones.

  • sarah

    Hi,
    Can you tell me if animal plasma powder is used in pet food

    Thanks

  • Rikke

    I remember back in the 1980s, I was living in Britain at the time, when BSE hit. There were reports of dogs getting it and dying from it. However, now it seems like dogs are immune to it? It was very confusing back then. I became a vegetarian for a while because the reports of what foods were and weren’t dangerous and how and why they were dangerous were so contradictory. It was obvious no one knew what was happening. I would never feed blood meal to a dog even now, I’m overly cautious maybe.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Omar… some dog foods can have blood meal. Our Red Flag scan will detect ingredients like these and turn them bright red on the list. Keep an eye out for future reviews.

  • Omar

    Yuck. What dog food has blood meal?