There’s no question that dog food is getting better, healthier and higher quality. That’s one reason that dogs are living longer than they used to.
But would you eat what you serve Fido?
Dorothy Hunter, owner of Paws Natural Pet Emporium in Richland, WA, says, “Absolutely!”
It’s an interesting thought: Would raw food diets sounds so good if you were eating them too? Would you be reading those labels more carefully searching out words like “by products,” “meal” and generics like “poultry” instead of chicken or turkey? Would you look harder for where the food was manufactured?
There are a number of brands out there — like The Honest Kitchen — that specialize in human grade food for dogs. But there’s a lot of wording splashed on packaging and in-store displays that doesn’t mean much. For example, did you know:
- The U.S. government has never defined what “natural” means for human food.
- The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) says “human-grade” is misleading: “A claim that something is ‘human-grade’ or ‘human-quality’ implies that the article being referred is ‘edible’ for people in legally defined terms. The terms ‘human grade’ or ‘human quality’ have no legal definition.” The AAFCO goes on to say that unless every ingredient in the product and every processing method used meets FDA and US DA requirements — and every producer of the ingredients is licensed to perform those tasks. That’s why you may find pet food that isn’t labeled “human grade” even though it’s makers say that it is in formats other than the label. The Honest Kitchen took this issue to court and was allowed to use the phrase on it’s packaging, according to TheBark.com.
- AAFCO, according to its own website, “does not regulate, test, approe or certify pet foods in any way.
- The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) precisely defines certified organic food as plant ingredients that are grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge. Organic animal ingredients must come from animals raised on organic feed, given access to the outdoors, and not treated with hormones or antibiotics. The NOP does not include pet foods.
Pet owners are left in a rocky place where Fido’s food may well be organic and human grade but the makers can’t say anything to that effect. Or the product may have labels that claim to be something that is not confirmed by any outside inspectors.
You may never have the time, money, corporate access or research skills to find out what the quality of your dog’s food is. Whether your dog thrives on what you feed him or her — does he have shiny coat, lots of energy and good health? — is a good thing to watch carefully.
We like the idea of supplementing any commercial dog food with homemade elements. Pick a recipe from Doggone Good Cuisine every week or so and serve it to Fido. Make up a batch of Delighted Dog Stew and spoon a half a cup or so over your dog’s regular food. Make homemade dog treats on a regular basis.