What are Menhaden Fish?
Menhaden Fish are small oily fish that are caught along the Atlantic coastline of the United States. Menhaden fish are not used for human consumption, but the oil derived from them is often used in products such as soaps and paints.
However, the fish meal produced by removing this oil is not wasted and is often used in animal feed as a source of protein. As you can imagine this fish meal is relatively inexpensive which is one of the primary drivers behind its use in commercial dog food.
What is Fish Meal?
Many people are not sure what Fish or Meat Meal is, but it is surprisingly simple. Fish meal is the byproduct of the rendering process. The rendering process removes the majority of the moisture and oil from fish or meat. As water makes up the majority of fresh fish, this leaves behind a more concentrated ingredient that is very rich in protein.
Fish Meal is a regular ingredient in dog food. There is a wide range of Fish Meal ingredients used as ingredients in dog food including Herring Meal, Whitefish Meal, Redfish Meal and Ocean Fish Meal. Ocean Fish Meal can and often does contain Menhaden Fish Meal along with other small ocean fish. Whitefish Meal includes fish such as Cod, Hake, Haddock, and Flounder.
The primary disadvantage of Ocean Fish Meal is that it is vague and unspecific. You don’t know exactly what the Ocean Fish Meal in question contains other than they are fish from the ocean. This is where some see Menhaden Fish Meal as advantageous or superior.
While Menhaden Fish Meal is likely to provide very similar nutrition to Ocean Fish Meal, the fact that it is named and traceable make it a more reliable and consistent ingredient in dog food.
Menhaden Fish Meal Nutrition
The primary reason Menhaden Fish are caught is for their oil. If you hadn’t guessed already, Menhaden Fish Oil is high in the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids. These Fatty Acids are known to provide a range of health benefits including improving the health of your dog’s heart, coat, and fur.
Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier much of this oil is extracted, so it’s not clear quite how much remains when this ingredient is added to dog food. This is disappointing as many dogs would see a noticeable improvement in their health with just a small increase in the level of Omega Fatty Acids in their diets.
However, all of the protein and much of the fat contained in the Menhaden Fish will survive the rendering process. Fish Meal such as Menhaden Fish Meal is proven to be very digestible and includes all of the required amino acids needed for growth, repair, and maintenance.
Menhaden Fish Meal has a particularly high ratio of protein to fat which could be seen as advantageous to certain dogs. This includes dog attempting weight loss or dogs with severe medical issues such as pancreatitis.
The Over Fishing of Menhaden Fish
Sadly, as with most popular fish, Menhaden Fish are being overfished in our oceans, and the estimated population has been steadily decreasing year on year. The reason behind this is that Menhaden Fish is incredibly popular and in high demand.
Pet food is just one of the significant uses of Menhaden Fish. Menhaden Fish Meal is also used in fish farm feed due to its low cost and high protein content. It is also used as a part of the feed that some commercial livestock animals consume.
Menhaden Fish are often used as bait to catch more prized and premium seafood such as Crab and Lobster. As mentioned earlier, Menhaden Fish Oil is used in beauty products for human consumption such as Soap. Lastly, Menhaden Fish can even be used as a part of some fertilizers.
While it is fantastic that humans have found so many beneficial uses out of such a tiny fish if the rate that Menhaden Fish are harvested from our oceans does not decrease then they may one day be off the table altogether. Some ethical consumers would, therefore, suggest buying dog food that contains fish or fish meal that is from more sustainable sources.
Dog Foods That Contain Menhaden Fish Meal
Menhaden Fish Meal is used in many dog food formulas including those that could be considered high-quality or premium. They are often used to increase the overall level of protein above what their core meat and fish ingredients provide.
Increasing the protein content of a dog food formula by using Menhaden Fish Meal is far better than padding out a dog food with high levels of plant-based proteins. Protein from ingredients like grains, legumes, and plant-byproducts such as Pea Protein or Potato Protein is inferior to animal or fish protein. This is as it does not contain the full range of needed amino acids and has a lower biological value.
Below are two of our favorite recipes that contain Menhaden Fish Meal. They both provide great nutrition with a high proportion of protein and fat provided by a range of high-quality ingredients, free of grains and other fillers. Be sure to check out our in-depth reviews for a detailed analysis. Both of these recipes use Menhaden Fish Meal to supplement other whole meat and fish ingredients such as Lamb and Salmon.
Dog Foods That Do Not Contain Menhaden Fish Meal
Don’t like the idea of your dog eating fish meal such as Menhaden Fish Meal? Would you prefer they eat a dog food that only contains whole fish ingredients that are suitable for human consumption? Look no further, here are some of our favorite dog food formulas containing whole seafood ingredients. Both recipes are rich in the Omega Fatty Acids and provide very satisfactory protein and fat proportions.