What is the difference between human food and dog food? The Ultimate Guide

The truth: Human food manufacturing is required to follow federal, state, and sometimes even local legal requirements – including registration with each of these government authorities.

Susan Thixton Pet Food Safety Advocate Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsibleTruthaboutPetFood.comAssociation for Truth in Pet Food

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Always ask your pet food manufacturer if meat and vegetable ingredients meet USDA human edible standards. The differences between the two are significant and important for pet health.

The truth: Human food labels are required by law to state actual nutrient content – such as actual fat content and actual protein content. Pet food labels are required by law to state either minimum or maximum – not actual. Pet food regulations are very specific to NOT allow actual nutrient information. ‘Protein’ and ‘fat’ on a pet food label are stated as ‘crude’ (which is an estimated measurement) and these nutrients are stated as a minimum. Such as – a pet food label can state 6% fat, but actually the food could contain 26% fat (or more).

A Balanced Diet

The term “balanced diet” is something that we as people know very well because it is taught in schools as apart of living a healthy lifestyle. We are taught what foods that our bodies need to function properly and how to get them. There are countless informational guides, photos, and posters to show us exactly what we need to achieve a balanced diet. But how much do you know about your diet compared to the diet your dog has? If humans need a balance of different foods to stay healthy, then is the same for our pets?

Know Where Your Dogs Nutrients are Coming From

You would most likely check the packaging of your meals to assess their caloric and nutritional value, your dogs food should be no different. The key when it comes to properly feeding your dog is to know the macro nutrient profiles of their food, the ingredients it is made with, and whether or not the nutrients provided are coming from mostly whole foods.

Proteins in dog food are usually written as meat, meat by-products, or other types of “meals.” This kind of protein can help meet the recommended daily intake but by-products are the parts of the animal that are rejected from human consumption, which means that they could still be dangerous. For example, if meat is left unrefrigerated for an extended period of time, it is unfit for humans but is still able to be made into food for dogs.5

You can use this calculator to help you determine the amount of calories your dog needs it. However, this should be used as a caloric guideline rather than a strict parameter – every dog is different just like us! Knowing the source of your dogs nutrient intake can help you better feed them.

dog food OR human food

Reading pet food labels can be confusing for many pet owners. Manufacturers like to use terms like “made with” or “organic” to make a food sound healthy, but sometimes these terms are misleading.

While the terms technically have to be true, at least in part, to be on the label, they may not tell the whole story. Something can be “made with whole food ingredients” and still have poor quality ingredients or additives that are dangerous for your pet. Something may have “organic” ingredients in part, while still including numerous chemical preservatives.

Human grade is one of those terms that some pet owners find confusing. Does this term mean that this type of pet food is actually safer or healthier for your pet, or is it just clever marketing? What is human grade pet food, and how is it different from feed grade? This guide will explore these terms, what they mean and how you can transition to high-quality human grade pet food for your dog or cat.