Keep Your Pet Healthy in 2020 Keep Your Pet Healthy in 2020


Another Pet Food Ingredient to Avoid: Cattle Feed

Another Pet Food Ingredient to Avoid: Cattle Feed

Story at-a-glance -

  • We just may start seeing corn gluten feed in commercial dog food formulas.
  • Normally a type of cattle feed, corn gluten feed is being tested for its potential as a dog food ingredient.
  • Corn gluten feed is even less nutritious than corn gluten meal, a common low-grade and allergenic filler used in many inexpensive pet foods.
  • Corn gluten feed isn’t species-appropriate nutrition for a canine or feline companion, and pet owners should avoid any commercial formula containing it.

By Dr. Becker

According to and, a Brazilian scientist has completed a study to measure the digestibility and metabolizable energy of a dog food ingredient called 'maize gluten feed' (MGF).

The study concluded that, "MGF may be a useful ingredient in dog food formulations designed to have low energy or reduce urine pH levels of dogs."

may be a useful ingredient

… for dog food designed to have low energy

… or for formulas designed to reduce urine pH levels

I'm quite sure this possibly useful dog food ingredient isn't even remotely useful to any actual dog.

Maybe, instead, it's intended to be useful to pet food manufacturers looking for cheaper ingredients or a marketing angle to introduce a new dog food formula or two.

Maize = Corn

Maize is another word for corn. So 'maize gluten feed' is corn gluten feed.

Corn gluten feed is a byproduct (waste product) of the wet milling process and is composed of the structures left after most of the starch, gluten and germ has been extracted from the grain.

Corn gluten feed is commonly fed to cattle.

And it isn't the same thing as corn gluten meal, which is a much-used ingredient in lower quality commercial dog foods. According to Ohio State University Extension:

Corn gluten feed should not be confused with corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal has 2 times the protein content of corn gluten feed. Also the protein in corn gluten feed is degraded relatively rapidly in the rumen versus the protein of corn gluten meal is degraded relatively slowly (more by-pass potential).

Translation: corn gluten feed is even less nutritious than corn gluten meal. And all of you who read here regularly know where I stand on corn gluten meal and any corn product in pet food.

Corn in all forms is a poor quality, incomplete, biologically inappropriate protein source for dogs (and cats). It is a cheap filler ingredient that is highly allergenic.

Corn also happens to be one of the top three crops with the highest incidence of aflatoxin contamination.

Consider the Source

When examining pet food labels, it's not enough to look at the total protein percentage. This is a little trap pet owners get caught in as they become more aware of the requirement for protein in their dog's or cat's diet.

There are different kinds of protein. Some of them are appropriate for your canine companion; others are not.

A protein's source (animal, vegetable, grain) and quality (muscle meat or feet and feathers, for example) determine how digestible and assimilable they are. The amount of protein in a dog food formula is only as relevant as its level of species-appropriate nutrition.

For cats and dogs, the most nutritious protein they can eat comes not from vegetable or grain sources like corn, but from animal tissue.

The ability of protein to be used by the body, and the amount of usable amino acids it contains is its biological value (BV). Egg has the highest BV of any food at 100. Corn has a BV of 45. So not only is the biological value of corn relatively low, it's also a grain, which is not species-appropriate nutrition for carnivorous dogs and cats.

An ingredient's digestibility and assimilability are not measured for pet food. That's how pet food manufacturers get away with using varieties of protein that have no biological value to the animals eating it.

Get my top tips for choosing the best pet food hereGet my top tips for choosing the best pet food here

'Low Energy' Dog Food?

Low energy (calorie) and reduced protein pet foods aren't necessarily healthy.

The reason reduced protein formulas were developed was because after a lifetime of eating the low-quality, indigestible protein found in most popular commercial pet foods, the livers and kidneys of older dogs and cats are significantly dysfunctional.

In fact I strongly recommend if you're feeding a rendered pet food formula – food containing protein that is not digestible or assimilable – you reduce the amount of protein you're feeding. Your pet's organs can't process a steady diet of terrible quality protein.

Obviously, this is far from an ideal situation since your pet's protein requirements actually increase with age. Ideally, you're feeding your pet balanced, species-appropriate nutrition. The right nutrition will help your favorite furry companion age in good health, and won't cause diet-related damage to major organs.

If Your Dog Has High Urine pH Levels...

Dogs with consistently high urine pH levels (over 7) are at risk of developing several types of bladder stones, including magnesium ammonium phosphate (also called struvite) stones.

Rather than buy a commercial or veterinary formula presumed to reduce urine pH, I recommend you feed a low carbohydrate, preferably raw or at least canned food diet for increased water content in the food. By eliminating grains, which alkalize urine pH, often your dog's urine pH can be maintained naturally on a species-appropriate diet.

Elevated urine pH is also a common cause of cystitis, FUS/FLUTD, and 'burning' or killing the grass. Addressing diet is a smart way to remedy these issues.