- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


What is ash?

August 23rd, 2005, 04:25 PM
What ingredient, on the list of ingredients in dog food, do I look for that translates as ash?

August 23rd, 2005, 05:47 PM
I believe it's the ash that results from cooking the food at a high temperature.

This is what I found from By Dr. Brookshire, Director Of Veterinary Services For Premium Edge Pet Foods :
Ash is mineral content of meals (meat protein ingredients in pet foods). It comes from the bone that is included in the meal. Ash is high in phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Because of this, high ash pet foods tend to be high in the above minerals. Much attention is being directed to the three minerals listed and their relationship to various illnesses.

Phosphorus has been related to the progression of renal disease. In patients diagnosed with varying levels of renal dysfunction, phosphorus has several ill effects. It not only increases the severity of changes to the kidney itself, but also decreases survival time after the diagnosis of kidney disease has been made. Scientific studies have yet to determine the exact way that phosphorus affects the kidneys, but there is proof that it does have an adverse effect. There have not been any studies to determine effects of excess phosphorus on the healthy kidney, but it makes sense that if excess phosphorus hurts a damaged kidney, it could potentially damage a healthy kidney, especially over time.

Phosphorus and magnesium in the diet can also cause problems for cats suffering from another type of urinary tract disease, known as FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease). Many maintenance cat diets are now formulated to help prevent the formation of struvite crystals in the urinary tract by acidifying the urine and providing lower levels of magnesium and phosphorus.

Excess calcium is most important to large breed puppies and pregnant females. Large breed puppies have a greater likelihood to develop orthopedic problems during the growth process. Developmental orthopedic disease can be affected by energy and calcium content of the food that the puppy is eating. Calcium must be less than 2.5% on a dry matter basis by AAFCO standards. This restriction itself has reduced the incidence of developmental orthopedic disease. Calcium is not present in pet foods at high enough levels to be detrimental to pregnant bitches or queens, but supplementation is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

Ash is present in all pet foods at varying levels. The lower the ash level, the more digestible the diet is and the lower the risk of excess mineral content.

August 23rd, 2005, 06:15 PM
How, then, can you determine the ash content of food from the list of ingredients? Ash isn't mentioned, obviously. Nor is bone content mentioned. My dog acquired urinary stones due to ash consumption, so I'm trying to decide what kind of food to get him.

August 23rd, 2005, 06:23 PM
From this article about pet food labels in Canada, I learned that it's not a requirement of dog food companies to put the exact ash content...
They use cat food as an example (ash is most important in cat foods because of urinary tract blockages and kidney issues) but they say this:
Although the CVMA does require a maximum ash value for all cat foods and a maximum magnesium level for magnesium-restricted foods, AAFCO has no such requirements.

August 23rd, 2005, 06:27 PM
So if you were to be an amateur dog food content sleuth, how would you determine, loosely, what dog food has lower ash content over another?

August 23rd, 2005, 06:33 PM
Well, another article I found said, more meat=more ash, but lower quality meat=more ash. If it's from the bones mostly, then you have to find food that has meat in it, not meat by-products (which would certainly have bones).

I say just feed the best food you can. :)

August 23rd, 2005, 06:45 PM
So will the ingredients say, "meat by-product?" Or are there code words for that? I persist because I've been feeding my dog the brand, Canidae, but recently I ran out and had to run to the nearest grocery store to buy some temporary food, so I bought him Iams. He LOVED Iams! Which made me want to find something that he loved that's good for him, instead of something he doesn't like all that much. Plus I feel like getting to the bottom of this ash issue intellectually.

August 23rd, 2005, 06:46 PM
If you look at the label of Iams, it says "chicken by-products". Even if you don't have a problem with ash, you should still avoid by-products. :yuck:

If the ingredient is "Meat" and not specific like Chicken, beef, bison etc, then it's mystery meat, and you run as far and as fast as you can.

Foods with the meat in "meal" form are better than in whole form because moisture makes up most of the weight, and it ends up boiled away anyway. :rolleyes:

August 23rd, 2005, 06:51 PM
Very nice. I think I can get that amateur grip on this that I was looking for now! Thanks so very much!


August 23rd, 2005, 06:56 PM
Hey, if you ever have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. :)