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Why is the ash level in a pet food important?

Ash Factoid Moment;

Why use “low ash” protein ingredients?

Ash is the true filler in a dog food. Dogs have a requirement of about 2% ash (the non burnable/combustible minerals left over after food is burned) as in that 2% will be the calcium/phos/trace minerals they need. Above that is the useless part of a dog food as a rule. Of course, you can have a lot more useless ingredients in dog food if it isn’t produced so it is digestible. For instance starches do need to be cooked for dogs to utilize them as they are not a ruminant like a cow.

So, ash tends to denote the quality of a protein ingredient, the less bone included in said meat meal the lower the ash(minerals from the bone). Many look at ash as the key to understanding if a higher quality protein is being used in the making of a dog or cat food.

Too much ash can be an impediment as well as in the gastrointestinal tract an overabundance of one type of mineral can inhibit uptake of another, either directly or by binding with the other mineral. And we have not talked about too much phosphorus and that possible effect on the kidneys over time.

I was taught ash of 7% or lower is the goal in constructing a quality food. Ash is unfortunately not required to be listed on labels so you have to do your research. Cost of using higher quality proteins, thus lower ash, than comes into play and you can tell that by what a food costs.

Our low ash chicken meal consists of chicken meat and some accompanying bone, and “ash” denotes the amount of bone that’s ground into the meal. A low ash content signifies a higher grade meal due to more protein included and less bone. Ash, ultimately, is . The chicken is ground into a powder (meal) after the fat and water are removed, and the end result is a very concentrated, highly digestible protein, rich with amino acids, essential fatty acids and minerals (ash) that provide calcium and phosphorous. We also use low ash herring meal and salmon meal in our formulas.

Unfortunately, ash is not required by the labeling guidelines set up by AAFCO as I described earlier so very few companies chose to list it. We do because we think it is an important part of information to share with the consumer-it shows we have a very high quality diet.

6 Responses

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Tammy Baldwin    02.20.13

Thank you for the educational ash information.

The other brand dog food we were looking at has 12 % ash –

Too much for our crew

Will be making the switch to Dr Tim’s dog and cat food!

admin    02.20.13


rebecca    02.20.13

I stumbled across this article whilst reading about why ash is in ingredients. Please explain the not so funny sentence about the polar bear becoming dust.

admin    02.20.13

No, it was the person that became dust, sorry for the confusion.

Melissa    02.20.13

So do my cats and dogs need ash in there food ? Is it good for them.

admin    02.20.13

Yes, ash supplies needed minerals but only about 2% ash is what is required. Above that is wasted space in the kibble, more or less. ASh is comprised of all the minerals in the food.

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