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Expert Advice June 2019 Issue

Dear Doctor: “Human Grade” Food for Dogs

Q. I’ve come across some dog food with labels that say “human grade.” Is that a better bet for my pet?

Lynne Goldsmith

Jacksonville, Florida

Dear Ms. Goldsmith,

A. “Human grade” is much more about the plant the food is processed in than where the food came from. For instance, chicken, whether for people or dogs, comes essentially from the same bird. It’s just that “human grade” chicken — the breast, thighs, and wings — is processed in a plant or kitchen licensed to produce food for people, while chicken that gets put into pet food — the neck, back, and organs — goes to plants that manufacture pet food. The parts of the bird that go into dog food meet their nutrition needs and are pleasing to their taste buds, too.

Indeed, for plant-based ingredients, the only difference might be that when the food is harvested, some goes to factories that produce human food and some goes to factories that produce pet food. Same parts of the same plant — no difference.

Perhaps more to the point, something that is “human grade” does not guarantee that it is nutritionally appropriate for a dog. The Association of American Feed Control Officials sets the standards for the levels of nutrients that should be in dog food, and that’s a separate issue from the origin of the food’s ingredients.

“Human grade” food for dogs tends to be relatively expensive. There’s no need to purchase it, either for your dog’s health or enjoyment of meals.

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