Is Feeding Your Dog a Human Grade Diet Necessary?
Over the past few decades, the pet food industry has exploded. The pet food industry was officially born in the mid-1800s when the first food made specifically to feed dogs was released in the form of Spratt’s Patent Meal Fibrine Dog Cakes which were made up of meat, vegetables, and wheat meals. The first dog food in the United States was released in the form of canned horse meat following World War I. By the 1930s, canned cat food became available and dry meat-meal dog foods grew in popularity.
For many years, dry dog food was fairly simple and there weren’t a lot of choices. Today, however, all you have to do is walk into your local pet store to see how things have changed. Not only are there dozens of pet food manufacturers, but there are hundreds of different recipes and a wide variety of different types of dog food. In recent years, there has been an emphasis on improving the quality of pet foods and this has led to the use of terms like “natural” and “holistic”.
Another term you may have heard used for certain types of dog food is “human grade”. But what exactly does human grade mean and how does it apply to dog food? Keep reading to find out.
What Does Human Grade Mean?
According to the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), there is no strict definition for the term “human grade” as provided by animal feed regulations. This isn’t surprising, however, because human-grade products are generally not intended for use in feeding animals. The main distinction you have to keep in mind is whether the product is considered “edible” for humans – this is a standard set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In fact, there are two ways to categorize food products, according to the USDA:
- Human Grade – This term is used to describe finished products that are legally suitable and approved for human consumption (i.e., deemed “edible” by the USDA).
- Feed Grade – This term applies to products that are not considered suitable for human consumption and can legally only be used to feed animals. If any of the ingredients or the processes used in manufacturing the product do not meet human grade standards, the product is deemed feed-grade.
In addition to there being a clear distinction between human grade and feed-grade products, there is also a difference between products that are deemed human grade and those that are made with human-grade ingredients. A product can only carry the official “human grade” label if it is made from human-grade ingredients AND processed in a human food facility. If the product contains human grade ingredients but is manufactured in a pet food facility, it loses the human grade distinction but can still carry the “made with human grade” ingredients claim on the package. Just remember that a product being made with human grade ingredients isn’t necessary a guarantee of quality, you still need to evaluate the quality of the product for yourself.
Should You Feed Your Dog Human Grade Food?
There is no one-size-fits-all dog food. The type of dog food that is right for one dog may not be the ideal choice for another. And there isn’t always an obvious right or wrong choice. What you need to do is learn as much as you can about your dog’s nutritional needs and then select a pet food product that will meet those needs in a high-quality way. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shell out for a human grade dog food, but that is certainly one of the options. If you absolutely want to give your dog the highest quality dog food and money is not a problem, go with a human grade dog food, by all means.
Our Top 3 Recommendations for Human Grade Dog Food
If you’re considering making the switch to human-grade dog food for your canine companion, you should be prepared to increase your pet food budget. This type of pet food is made with human-grade ingredients in a human-grade facility, so the manufacturer’s cost to produce the food will be much higher and some of those costs are passed on to the customer. You can rest assured, however, that you will be feeding your dog one of the highest quality pet food products out there. To see what it might look like to feed your dog a human-grade dog food, here are our top 3 brand recommendations:
The Honest Kitchen
Though The Honest Kitchen may seem like a strange name for a pet food company, it is an accurate reflection of this brand’s commitment to honesty and clarity when it comes to their products. This company has nothing to hide – in fact, they have a lot of good things to talk about! This brand is known for its dehydrated pet foods which are made with natural, human grade ingredients like premium animal proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. The Honest Kitchen sources their ingredients from around the world, but they have close relationships with each of their suppliers so they are able to guarantee the quality and safety of their products. Not only do they use human grade ingredients, but they make their foods in human grade facilities. You may also be interested to learn that the company received a letter of No Objection from the FDA for using the term “human grade” to describe their products. That’s saying something.
When it comes to their products, The Honest Kitchen offers whole grain food and grain-free food options. Their recipes feature meat-rich proteins like beef, chicken, turkey, and fish with digestible carbohydrates including whole grains, coconut, parsnips, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and more. Their pet foods are packed with protein and other healthy nutrients and they are gently dehydrated, not cooked, to ensure that they retain most of their original nutritional integrity. In addition to their dehydrated pet food products, The Honest Kitchen also offers a line of freeze-dried treats as well as meal toppers to give your dog’s food a boost of flavor and nutrition. They also offer two base mixes that you can mix with meat to create your dog’s own homemade diet.
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of Ollie – it is a very new company. Ollie offers a completely new option in dog food similar to the kind of meal delivery services for people that have lately become so popular. The way it works is that you create a profile for your dog on the My Ollie website, including information about his breed, sex, age and activity level. Once your profile has been completed, Ollie designs a custom meal plan for your dog and delivers it perfectly portioned, fresh frozen, right to your door. All you have to do is thaw the food one container at a time and feed your dog the recommended amount. It is as simple as that. Ollie pet food is cooked at low temperatures to preserve the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients and delivered frozen to preserve its freshness.
Ollie pet food is fairly expensive, but that’s what you should expect from a service that delivers fresh, customized meals for your pet. In addition to customizing their recipes to cater directly to your dog’s needs, they also use the highest quality ingredients out there. According to the My Ollie website, this company uses, “only human-grade, nutritious ingredients to make [their] vet-formulated recipes in a human-grade facility”. Their recipes are all natural and grain-free, plus they are free from fillers and artificial additives. You can choose from two main proteins – chicken or beef – and each recipe is supplemented with nutrient-rich organ meats, sunflower roil, chia seeds, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The beef recipe provides 12% crude protein as fed and 10% crude fat which, with a 68% moisture content, translates to a dry matter basis of 37.5% crude protein and 32.25% fat. The chicken recipe contains 10% crude protein and 5% fat at 72% moisture, translating to about 36% crude protein and about 18% crude fat.
My Perfect Pet Fresh
My Perfect Pet is a service similar to Ollie in that they sell custom meals for pets. The company was founded after the owner’s dog died in the wake of the largest pet food recall in history, all with the goal of providing pet parents with safe, high-quality foods to feed their pets. My Perfect Pet offers a selected line of pet food and treats that are lightly cooked and made with human grade ingredients. The quality of the ingredients and the gentleness of the cooking process ensures the quality and nutritional integrity of the food itself. The founder of the company states that, “nothing goes into our products that we wouldn’t eat ourselves”. This company sources almost all of their ingredients directly in the USA – the exception is their lamb which comes from Australia or New Zealand but is still held to human grade quality standards.
Not only are My Perfect Pet foods made with premium ingredients, but they are nutritionally balanced and easily digestible. In addition to meat-rich proteins, this company formulates their recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance. My Perfect Pet divides their products into two categories – Standard Blend and Specialty Blend. The Standard Blend line includes original and grain-free recipes formulated for dogs in different life stages from puppy to senior. There are also recipes for sensitive stomachs and digestive support. The Specialty Blend line of recipes are formulated by veterinarians to meet specific nutritional needs. It includes low-glycemic and low-phosphorus recipes. No matter what your dog’s unique nutritional needs may be, My Perfect Pet has a formula to meet them.
While human-grade dog food may be at the top of the list when it comes to quality, there are plenty of other wonderful options out there for your dog. If you have the money to spend on this type of food, it is definitely worth it but don’t feel guilty if you can only afford a 3-star or 4-star dry food. What is really important is that you give your dog the love he deserves and the highest quality diet you can consistently afford.