Many pet food products today boast about being classified as “human-grade”. It’s definitely a powerful marketing tactic as many pet owners place high value on their dog’s health. But, what is human-grade dog food exactly?
According to AAFCO, “human grade” isn’t really a standard. However, it does have an underlying meaning that many pet owners may find relevant. Specifically, human-grade food means that it is edible for human consumption. At the same time, the manufacturing process, packing, and holding of the product must meet Federal regulations. Compared to your typical pet foods, human grade therefore goes through more stringent requirements. Seeing this label in the dog’s food definitely influences how pet parents choose dog food.
Most of the top fresh dog food brands today are labeled human-grade. But how exactly does this feature benefit your dog? Here’s what you should know:
Benefits of Human Grade Pet Food
USDA Inspected Facility
The human-grade claim is more than just a fancy work on the pet food label. Aside from being made with human grade ingredients, the meals are also made in a USDA inspected building so there’s an added layer of protection there. This is crucial since you want to limit the chances of contamination in the pet’s food.
Human-grade dog food is typically served fresh, baked, or it underwent minimal processing. You don’t need to guess what ingredients are placed there because all ingredients are accepted human foods. The meat and veggies are typically grounded up together, lightly cooked, and then served. To extend the shelf life, pet food manufacturer keeps the food frozen during dog food delivery.
Human-Grade Meat and Ingredients
There’s something to be said about human quality ingredients that makes it so much better than your typical pet industry food. The fact is that the protein sources for this type of dog food is of top quality. The same goes for any veggies, bone meal, or fish added into the mix. Feed grade ingredients are less stringent with the protein source coming from animal scraps. These are typically the foundations for the fresh dog food vs dry kibble debate.
At the end of the day, feeding human grade means giving your dog the absolute best—something you’d probably eat yourself or something you’d buy off the grocery stores.
Compared to feed grade pet food, the whole food ingredients helps maintain the authentic taste of the food. Free range chicken will taste like chicken and beef will taste like beef. The food is as close as possible to the real thing so your dogs, even the picky eater ones, will love it.
Custom Meal Plans
Technically speaking, homemade food is also human grade food for dogs if you’re using ingredients fit for human consumption. However, the pet food industry now has a niche for custom made human grade meals that can be bought at a subscription basis. This allows you to customize meal plans according to the unique needs of your dog. Some pet food companies like Just Food for Dogs and Nom Nom are quite popular when it comes to customization.
Human-grade dog meals are gently cooked if at all. They rarely go through the extrusion process which is how kibble is made. Instead, the human grade variety keeps most of its moisture intact. This helps with your dog’s digestion so that they’ll have firm, small, and healthy poops.
Does your dog hate drinking water? It’s not uncommon for some dogs to have insufficient water consumption. Traditional pet food tends to be incredibly dry so your dog will need to drink twice as much for proper hydration. Fresh human grade meals from a pet food company typically has more water inside it, which helps hydrate your dog. This aids with digestion and better poops.
Human grade claims that the pet food production process requires very little fillers or preservatives. The primary way to keep the pet food ingredients fresh is by freezing and quickly shipping them to its intended destination. Unlike dry dog food, the meal comes intact with only whole foods. In one of our articles, we answer the question: What is fresh dog food?
Feel Full Faster
Since there’s added water in the mix, your pets will actually feel full faster with this type of meal. This helps promote weight loss and weight maintenance in breeds that tend to be overweight .
AAFCO sets the gold standard for complete and balanced nutrition for feed grade meals. Despite the fact that the meals go through human food production, the nutritional content complies with AAFCO. This means you’re giving your dog an optimum diet according to experts.
Note though even if the good food goes through current good manufacturing practice, the real defining factor is the ingredient list. High quality protein only works if its is delivered in proper amounts to sustain the dog’s health. Just because the food is classified as “human grade” doesn’t automatically means that it meets AAFCO standards. You need to specifically look for products that comply with regulations, no matter what form they may come in. It’s not unheard of that feeding raw or dry food is acceptable because they’re made according to accepted regulations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is human-grade dog food?
Human grade dog food means that the product is made from human edible foods. At the same time, it has been handled according to the regulations established for human food. Simply put, you’re giving your dog meals that you’ll have no problem eating yourself.
What to look for in human-grade dog food?
No matter what new brands you buy, always make sure to check the label. The food should be nutritionally complete and pass USDA inspection. Practice reading the pet food label for your pets and you’ll start to see that some ingredients are simply added as fillers or as preservatives.
Can humans eat dog food?
Of course, just because pet food manufacturers advertise their product as human grade doesn’t mean you should eat it yourself. Note that these meals are human edible but they’re made according to the American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO. Hence, the nutritional adequacy is insufficient for humans. You might be tempted to eat it once but in the long term, this meal should be limited to canines.