Skip to Content

Human Grade vs. Feed Grade Pet Foods

Patrick Mahaney

This article originally appeared on as Human Grade vs. Feed Grade Pet Foods .

My dog is a fan of Honest Kitchen dog food. With that said, it made perfect sense that I attended a luncheon table talk at the recent BlogPaws Conference on Lake Las Vegas. The group leader was Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a fellow pet industry connection but also a veterinarian and President at Calfornia Pet Acupuncture & Wellness (CPAW). He dispenses advice and information from a holistic perspective and prides himself on keeping current and informed with overall wellness for pets.

Mahaney’s terrier, Cardiff, is living (and thriving) despite his diagnoses of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia and more recently, cancer. When Mahaney talks, I listen, and I am not alone.

The table topic at this particular luncheon dealt with the type of food, quality of food, and ingredients in the food your dog eats. This is particularly hot discussion for most anyone who prides themselves on being a dedicated dog parent, present company included. Here’s the scoop:

Human Grade vs. Feed Grade Pet Foods: Which one does your dog eat?

Human grade refers to a finished product that is deemed legally suitable, safe, and FDA-approved for consumption by a human.

Feed grade refers to the quality of a finished product which is not suitable for consumption by humans according to FDA standards. It is only legally allowed to be served to animals because of the ingredients it contains or how it has been processed. Further, it may include by-products, chemicals, fillers, and parts from “4D” meats: animals which are dying, diseased, disabled, or deceased. (re-read that last sentence very carefully. Did you shudder as we did?)

Made with human-grade ingredients does NOT mean a finished product is actually legally, human grade. An ingredient might start off being fit for people to eat it, but once it is shipped to a pet food plant and processed according to regulations for feed grade products, the term “human grade” can no longer apply. By true definition, that ingredient is now human grade.

Quite the dose of reality, isn’t it?

honest kitchen

Could your dog’s food contain animal feces potentially containing unhealthy parasites or bacteria? Yes, according to the research Mahaney cites. Your pet’s food could contain animal feces potentially containing unhealthy parasites or bacteria. Such contamination is allowed by the FDA, provided is has been properly heat treated.

Animals that have died in a manner besides slaughter can be used in feed-grade foods created for animals, and that includes your dog or cat. One of the books that really opened my eyes to this topic is by Ann Martin, “ Foods Pets Die For.”

Facts of What and Why I Feed My Dog 

I choose to feed my dog The Honest Kitchen dog food based on a previous history of failed food attempts with my last Cocker Spaniel. It has been over five years and I am only now beginning to want to talk about and share our history of dietary issues and health crises she endured. Those posts will be revealed in coming weeks.

In looking for a dog food to feed in general, some of the qualities important to me include:

  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives: I want it as fresh as possible without having to cook it myself
  • Nutritious and good for my dog
  • Human grade
  • He likes the taste of it and I can rotate flavors if desired without causing digestive upset
  • Made with recognizable ingredients, words I can pronounce, made with human grade ingredients that are not from rendering plants or some of the nasty places Dr. Mahaney spoke of in his discussion
  • I am not as concerned with price of food if I know I am feeding quality because I either pay now or pay later in costly medical bills due to an inferior grade of food.
  • No ingredients from China.

Quick! Make a wish!

The Honest Kitchen isn’t a food I ever thought I would want to feed my dog.  I gave it a shot, and Dex loves it! You add water to what appears to be a somewhat powdery but aesthetically appealing substance, wait a few minutes, and a meal is ready. Old-fashioned dog kibble (the dry stuff) turns brown in processing from all the high heat it endures.

With my dog’s food, the phytonutrients remain and it looks and smells yummy. In fact, I’ve sampled it myself! Rule of thumb for me: If I can’t use it or eat it, neither can my dog.

I add some extras to Dexter’s Honest Kitchen meal; things like cooked meat, veggies, or eggs. You do not have to add things, but the option is there if you want to add variety to your dog’s meal.

What is Dehydrated Food?

Dehydration removes the moisture from fresh ingredients. By doing so, the need for irradiation or chemical preservatives is eliminated. FAQs about The Honest Kitchen can be found here.

Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).

Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.  

Back to top