Why Is There Ash in Your Dog’s Food?

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Is This the Ash You Find in Dog Food?

Do they really add ash to dog food? You’ve probably seen the word “ash” before — printed right there on the label.

Crude ash. You mean the same stuff you find in a fireplace? Why would a manufacturer add ash to a dog food?

What Is Ash?

In dog food, ash is not like it sounds. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s not a filler intentionally used to dilute a recipe. 

Ash is what’s left over after any food has been completely incinerated. It’s the final product of food combustion.

In other words, if you were to completely incinerate a can of dog food, all three major nutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) would burn away, leaving just the food’s minerals behind.

Mineral nutrients (like calcium, phosphorous, zinc, iron, etc.) make up ash, the ultimate residue of food combustion.

Ash is also more commonly known as funeral ash. It’s simply what remains of any animal — even humans — after cremation.

Why Ash Can Be Important

The ash reported on a label represents the cumulative total of all the minerals found in that food.

Although a smaller amount can come from plant-based ingredients, most ash comes from the bone content and minerals additives in a product.

And much of those minerals include calcium and phosphorus.

In any case, the ash number by itself is not very revealing. Knowing the actual amount of each mineral included in the total ash figure would be much more useful.

And it can be especially important when feeding…

  • Growing large breed puppies
  • Dogs suffering from kidney disease

What’s ‘Normal’ for Ash Content
in Dog Food?

The amount of ash varies from product to product.

In general, the average ash content of most commercial dog foods appears to be somewhere around 5-8 percent1.

Since most companies don’t typically report ash content on their labels, The Dog Food Advisor arbitrarily uses an 8 percent figure for all dashboard calculations.

Footnotes

  1. Brown S., Taylor B., “See Spot Live Longer”, 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, p 55