Animal Digest is a common ingredient in pet foods, but what is it?
One of the leading pet food manufacturer’s websites describes it as a “high-quality ingredient that provides an excellent source of protein and enhances palability”. They tell you to “Remember” that in big red letters.
So what is it, really?
Animal digest is a process of cooking up undisclosed animal tissue in a vat using chemicals or enzymatic hydrolysis to melt it down to liquid form. Any animals can be used from a variety of sources, including diseased and dying animals. It’s not allowed to be sold for human consumption, so how can it be a high-quality ingredient?
It’s mostly used to add flavour, to incite your dog or cat into eating a food they would otherwise ignore.
Despite what the aforementioned manufacturer says, the protein in animal digest is of poor quality. They also state it’s used in small amounts, which tells the real story – they’re using it for flavor and not as a “high-quality” protein source.
Interesting fact – When a pet food is labelled “Chicken Flavor”, this is a telltale sign a digest has been included produced from chickens. The food doesn’t need to include chicken meat in this case.