What Is Bone Meal
Bone Meal is the bones or hooves of various livestock animals like Beef, Lamb, and Pork that have been ground up into smaller particles.
This Bone Meal can also be labeled as Bone Broth Powder and has various applications. The main two applications of Bone Meal are in pet food recipes and in gardening.
For gardening, Bone Meal is used as a fertilizer and can enhance the growth and health of various plants. This form of Bone Meal is only safe for use on plants and should not be fed to pets.
While quite different, the concept of Bone Meal for pets is very similar, and Bone Meal is marketed as being a great source of calcium and phosphorous.
This also ties into a dogs natural diet where they would have chewed and eaten bones on a regular basis as a minor source of nutrition.
Why Is Bone Meal In Dog Food?
Bone Meal was once a very regular component of commercial dog food recipes and used by many brands. These days its use has decreased significantly, and it is only used by a select few, most of who are lower-cost brands.
As we touched on above, the main purpose of Bone Meal is to provide dogs with some minor nutrition such as high levels of the minerals Calcium and Phosphorous.
Just as we teach children, Calcium is good for the bones, and if the bones are properly ground ensures they are nutritionally available for dogs to absorb.
Secondly, Bone Meal is often found in dog food recipes in an ingredient known as Meat and Bone Meal. This is an extremely cost-effective way to add some minor animal content to a dog food recipe without shelling out on higher-cost whole meat ingredients.
However, for both the above purposes, Bone Meal is only used as it is the lowest cost solution and not because there are no other solutions available.
Is Bone Meal Bad For Dogs?
It is natural for dogs to want to eat bones, and their ancestors would have done so on a regular basis. There is also plenty of bone treats available, which all claim to be safe to eat, so what is the problem with Bone Meal?
The main issue with Bone Meal is the risk it poses for a blockage in a dog’s digestive system. These ground bones can build up over time, causing a blockage that causes various symptoms like constipation or pain passing stool.
In the worst-case scenario, this build-up can require surgery from a veterinarian to remedy the situation.
Another potential risk of Bone Meal is that it poses the risk of contamination or infection. This is unlikely to occur in Bone Meal found in commercial dog food, which would have been sterilized, but this is a risk of homemade Bone Meal.
The last risk associated with Bone Meal is that it replaces other ingredients in a dog food recipe that could be much more beneficial or nutritious.
Padding out a dog food recipe with Bone Meal is a cheap and effective solution and avoids adding other nutrient-rich meal or fish ingredients and therefore denies those dogs that valuable protein and fat.
Pet Food Brands That Use Bone Meal
As we mentioned earlier, there used to be a large number of well-known pet food brands utilizing Bone Meal, but this has decreased over the last decade, and few remain.
Some of the best examples of pet food brands that still use Bone Meal include Pedigree, Friskies, 9Lives, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Purina Dog Chow, and Cesar.
You can see an obvious example of the use of Bone Meal in the ingredient list of Pedigree’s Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Flavor recipe.
Here the Bone Meal is within the ingredient Meat & Bone Meal, which is produced from bones with some flesh and tissue still attached.
The fact that Meat & Bone Meal is the most abundant animal-based ingredient in this recipe is extremely concerning and shows that there is little high-quality meat content present.
If you want to avoid using a dog food recipe with Bone Meal, we’d recommend carefully studying the ingredient list of any prospective recipes and also checking out our article The 11 Worst Dog Foods, where we discuss several of the brands that do use Bone Meal.