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What's Really In Commercial Dog Food?

The Strange Link Between Human Grade And “Feed Grade” Commercial Pet Food

Unfortunately for us concerned pet owners, the U.S. commercial pet food industry is not held to the healthy standards we would expect and want for our four-legged family members. These sub-standards regularly leave our pets at unnecessary risk for short and long-term negative health consequences.

In fact, according to The Animal Protection Institute, the pet food industry provides a critical market for slaughterhouse “offal,”, which is the waste products from animals deemed unfit for human consumption. These animal waste products include intestines, udders, esophagi, and quite regularly, diseased and cancerous animal parts. [1.]

About 50% of each animal slaughtered for human consumption is not fit for us to eat. The rest of the animal, including the bones, blood, feathers, and almost all other parts not consumed by humans, is sold to the pet food industry. [1.] This “offal” is called animal “by-products.”

It’s a neat arrangement. The meat producers not only get rid of their “slop,” but they also get to make a profit off of it. And it makes financial sense. It would be impossible for most commercial dog or cat foods to produce a 40-pound bag of quality food for a price point most of us would be willing or able to pay.

A Veil Of Secrecy

James Morris and Quinton Rogers, two professors with the Department of Molecular Biosciences at The University of California at Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, assert that, "There is virtually no information on the bioavailability of nutrients for companion animals in many of the common dietary ingredients used in pet foods. These ingredients are generally by-products of the meat, poultry and fishing industries, with the potential for a wide variation in nutrient composition. [1.]

Many experts claim that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their risk of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. Meat and poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are common ingredients in pet foods. These by-products are often comprised of rendered animal fat, restaurant grease, or other ingredients that are too rancid to be consumed by humans.

According to the The Animal Protection Institute, “restaurant grease has become a regular component of feed-grade animal fat over the last fifteen years.” [1.]. These fats are used as a filler as well as a flavor enhancer in order to get a cat or dog to eat food that he/she would normally not touch.

Aside from pet food labeled, “human-grade pet food,” pet food does not abide by FDA standards and law. In fact, while we are able to freely access any and all information concerning food produced for human consumption through the FDA. Yet commercial food ingredients for our pets is only available for a steep fee, and even that information is regularly misleading and inaccurate. [2]

Sub-par Pet Food Leads To Costly And Heartbreaking Health Problems In Our Pets

One of the many problems with this secrecy is that we end up feeding our beloved pets potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, to name a few. The use of these chemicals in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied, and long term build-up of these agents may ultimately be harmful. The fact that many feed-grade pet foods are produced from animals that have died by methods other than slaughter ultimately means that we are feeding diseased animals and animal by-products to our pets.

Even the wording used in our commercial pet foods is inaccurate and misleading. Almost every single pet food ingredient has an alternate meaning that is not the same as in human food. Unfortunately, those alternate meanings are not public information. [2]

For example, chicken in pet food is not required to be actual meat from a chicken. It can be just skin and bones with little or no meat at all. Furthermore, it is not required to be inspected and deemed safe to consume. It can be “condemned” or “diseased”. [3]. Aside from “human-grade” pet food, is held to a completely different standard than meat intended for human consumption.

In addition to diseased animal by-products in the U.S. pet food supply, the FDA recently issued a warning about pentobarbital in U.S. pet foods. “Most of us probably think that pentobarbital contamination comes from a few bad actors. New evidence is showing it may be a much more pervasive problem in the animal food supply than originally thought.” [4].

Consequences Of Trusting Commercial Pet Food Labeled “Complete And Balanced”

Another problem that has recently surfaced is the mislabeling of pet food as “complete and balanced.” Right now (August 2018) – multiple ‘Complete and Balanced’ dog foods brands are linked to diet related taurine deficient dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in possibly thousands of dogs. There are more than 8,000 pet owner members of the two Taurine Deficiency Dilated Cardiomyopathy groups on Facebook. [5]

According to Dr. Karen Becker at www.HealthyPets.Mercola.Com, “In my practice I see a growing number of patients with skeletal issues, organ degeneration and endocrine abnormalities as a result of dietary deficiencies of essential fatty acids, calcium, trace minerals and other nutrients. Well-meaning pet parents are trying to feed species-appropriate food to their dogs and cats, but what they’re missing is the need for nutritional balance.” [5]

Not Just For Our Animal Family Members, But Also For Our Planet

And really, not only for the health of your animal, but for the environment and planet as a whole, the ingredients we feed our pets should be as conscious as a choice as what we put in our own bodies.

According to The Healthy Path for Every Animal by Dr. Chambreau, DVM, the best diet for our pets would consist of consciously produced raw meat that includes bones for dogs and cats, grated raw and cooked vegetables, some grains, seeds and nuts, and supplements. [6]

Just as with our own health and wellbeing, we must take the lead in our pets’ health as well. With so much misleading information out there, coupled with sub-par ingredients, finding the right diet for our beloved animal companions can be overwhelming at best.

I devote my practice to helping you figure out the most health conscious and cost-efficient way to feed your companion animals. By doing so, you can not only provide their optimal health and happiness, but ensure they remain with you in good health for as long as possible.

Please contact me for an initial, complimentary consultation today, and discover how your beloved, four-legged family members can live their healthiest lives with you for many years to come.

© 2018 Elisa Christensen, Word Fortitude


(1) Designs, N. (2018). What's Really in Pet Food: An Article from the Animal Protection Institute (API). Retrieved 29 September 2018, from

(2) Thixton, S., & Thixton, S. (2016). The VERY Private and VERY Different Ingredients of Pet Food. Truth about Pet Food. Retrieved 29 September 2018, from

(3) (2018). Retrieved 29 September 2018, from

(4) Thixton, S., & Thixton, S. (2018). FDA admits: Pentobarbital in Pet Food More Of A Problem Than Originally Thought. Truth about Pet Food. Retrieved 29 September 2018, from

(5) Is Your Raw Pet Food Nutritionally Balanced?. (2018). Retrieved 29 September 2018, from

(6) The Healthy Path for Every Animal by Dr. Chambreau DVM . (2018). Retrieved 29 September 2018, from

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