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What is ash?
When you read ash on your pet food label it can be very confusing. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that pet food manufacturers are sweeping out fires and adding this dust to the food we lovingly offer our pets. What a relief! Simply put, ash is the mineral content, measured in the food like protein and fibre are. This shows on the label as Crude Ash or Inorganic Minerals. The group of minerals includes (to name a few!): calcium, phosphorus, copper and selenium.
Minerals are necessary in a diet for pets to get the levels of calcium, phosphorus and other essential nutrients needed from their food. Bones in the diet also contribute to the ash level in food, as bone contains lots of minerals. A high ash level could elude to a food using a lot of meat and animal ingredients. This is because both the “freshly prepared” and dried meal processed meat and animal ingredients can contain bones. This is a natural source of some minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus which are required in the diet and otherwise would need to be supplemented.
However too much ash can be detrimental as it is a part of the food which is indigestible, and excesses can have other implications and mineral interactions within the body. Once the mineral requirements are met there is no reason to increase the ash content. However, this can be difficult to avoid in diets high in animal ingredients or meat meals.