Turkey Meal In Dog Food

If you study the ingredient list of your dog’s favorite food, you almost always come across ingredients you aren’t familiar with, and meat meals like Turkey Meal may be one of those.

While Turkey is well-known, many dog owners are unsure what Turkey Meal means and if it’s something their dog should be eating.

What Is Turkey Meal?

Turkey Meal is a concentrated form of Turkey meat and tissue that has been processed to remove most of its moisture content.

This process, known as rendering, is done on an industrial scale and produces other well-known animal by-products like Beef Tallow.

Many dog owners do not realize that whole meat ingredients like Turkey, Chicken, or Beef contain a very high portion of water or moisture, as much as 75%.

You can see a few examples in the below chart.

Meat Moisture Content

Turkey isn’t listed above but is very similar to Chicken and so would contain approximately 69% moisture which is significant.

This high moisture content means that once this meat is cooked during the production process of dry dog food recipes, most of this moisture is lost, leaving a relatively small portion of meat remaining.

But the portion remains relatively stable due to meat meals like Turkey Meal having this moisture removed in advance.


Turkey Meal is an example of an accountable and transparent meat meal ingredient as it must be produced from Turkey -based ingredients.

This contrasts with other meat meals like Bone and Meat Meal, which are far less accountable and could be made from various ingredients.

You can learn more about Bone Meal in our dedicated discussion – Bone Meal In Dog Food.

Why Is Turkey Meal In Dog Food


As we touched on earlier, Turkey Meal has had most of its moisture removed, which means it is a very nutritionally dense ingredient packed with animal-based protein and fat.

This nutritional density allows pet food manufacturers to include a relatively small portion of Turkey Meal to provide nutrition compared to whole Turkey ingredients.

Unlike red meat ingredients, Turkey contains a relatively high proportion of protein compared to some fattier meats, with a ratio of protein to fat of 80:20, although this can vary depending on the source.


It is also typically the case that meat meals like Turkey Meal are cheaper to purchase than whole Turkey ingredients.

This is because much of the Turkey used to produce Turkey Meal is scraps and less desirable cuts of meat rather than those you’d be familiar with in the grocery store.

Picture the remnants of turkey meat and tissues on the bones of a turkey carcass after it has been butchered into breasts, thighs, and wings.

While that may not sound appealing, those scraps and cuts are still very nutritionally dense, and dogs will not turn their nose up at them.

Storage & Safety

An often overlooked reason that meat meals like Turkey Meal are used in favor of whole meat ingredients is that they are far less prone to spoilage once they have undergone rendering.

This is an essential trait in the pet food manufacturing industry and reduces the risk of issues that could lead to recalls.

It also allows manufacturers to more easily transport and store the ingredients over a more extended period of time, enabling a more efficient supply chain.


Dog Food Brands That Use Turkey Meal

Despite being extremely similar to Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal isn’t anywhere near as popular in dog food recipes and is only used by a smaller selection of brands.

Some of these brands that you may recognize include Wellness, Canidae, Nature’s Logic, Adirondack, Blue Buffalo, Zignature, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Merrick, and Earthborn Holistic.

We recently spent some time researching the use of ingredients in dog food, and we found that of the top 100 most popular dry dog food recipes on Chewy.com, just two recipes contained Turkey Meal as an ingredient, compared to 37 containing Chicken Meal.

This shows the huge contrast in popularity between Chicken Meal and Turkey Meal, despite providing very similar nutrition and taste.

You can see an example of the use of Turkey Meal in dry dog food recipes in the ingredient list of Nature’s Logic Canine Turkey Meal Feast below.

Turkey Meal Ingredient List Example

As you can see, Turkey Meal is the recipe’s most abundant ingredient, which is very rare. But thanks to its high nutritional density, this large portion of Turkey Meal translates into a huge portion of Turkey packed with animal-based protein and fat.

However, most other brands use Turkey Meal in conjunction with Turkey or other meat ingredients.

You can see an example of this scenario below in the ingredient list of Wellness’ Core Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, & Chicken Meal recipe.

Turkey and Turkey Meal Ingredient List Example

This example shows Turkey as the primary ingredient, with Turkey coming in second. However, despite being less abundant, the density of Turkey Meal means there is likely more Turkey provided by it than the larger portion of Turkey.

You will also notice that this recipe includes a smaller portion of Chicken Meal as well as some Chicken Fat, which is common.

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