For as long as I’ve been with Mercola.com – since 2009 – I’ve wanted nothing more than to encourage Dr. Mercola to offer a non-toxic, species-specific diet for pets made with 100% human-grade ingredients.
But there were always obstacles standing in the way, usually related to cost or the availability of raw materials.
A decade or more ago, you just couldn’t find consistent sources of free range, ethically sourced meats. Even if you could, they were too prohibitive in price to feed to your pet on an everyday basis. People could barely afford 100% grass fed meats for themselves.
Today, thank goodness, things have changed. Supplies are more plentiful and we have a whole new appreciation for clean food.
Many now rightly view food as medicine. What you eat can make a profound difference in your health.
And it’s no different with your dog...
Food is the foundation of your pet’s health, too. You can give your dog all the supplements you want, but if you’re not feeding him healthy, human-grade food that contains the necessary building blocks in biologically correct amounts, what I call species-appropriate macronutrients, you can’t expect your pet to truly thrive.
After all these years, Dr. Mercola’s team was finally able to consistently source the raw ingredients needed to produce dog food made with ethically sourced and human-grade constituents and keep it in stock. Most importantly, each bite provides balanced nutrition, whether you feed it to your dog exclusively or use as a topper or treat.
Before I tell you all about it, let’s take a look at why most of today’s pet foods may not be meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.
Today’s Pet Food Diets, Rated From Best-to-Worst
With all the different pet food diets available today, it can be difficult to know which one is best.
To help you find the right food for your dog, I periodically rate all of the types of foods sold in big box stores, grocery stores and small, independent pet food stores.
Here’s my most recent list, from best to worst, starting with my favorite type of food for dogs:
- Balanced raw, fresh homemade diet (I recommend using our Meal Mix for Adult Dogs to ensure homemade raw and cooked diets are nutritionally balanced)
- Balanced cooked, homemade diet
- Commercially available balanced raw food diet (found in the freezer section of your small, specialty pet store)
- Dehydrated or freeze-dried raw diet
- Commercially available cooked or refrigerated food
- Human-grade canned food (the label must say the ingredients are human-edible)
- Super premium canned food (typically found at big-box pet supply stores or conventional veterinary clinics)
- Human-grade dry food (the label must state human-grade so it won’t contain low-quality or rendered unidentified proteins)
- Super premium dry food (found at big box pet supply stores and conventional veterinary clinics)
- Grocery store brand canned food (usually contain high levels of grains and therefore glyphosate and GMOs, and synthetic preservatives)
- Grocery store brand dry food (same issues as store brand canned food and lacks adequate moisture)
- Semi-moist pouched food (contains propylene glycol, a preservative closely related to antifreeze)
- Unbalanced raw or cooked homemade diet
While many of these types of foods may be temptingly convenient to feed to your dog, they don’t necessarily provide the biologically appropriate, food-based nutrients needed to maintain vibrant health.
Feed-Grade vs Human-Grade Ingredients – Why Kibble and Other Commercially-Prepared Pet Foods Are so Cheap
There’s no question that pet food made with human-edible ingredients costs more – usually a lot more. Why is that?
It all comes down to the type of ingredients used in the food. All pet foods use one of two different categories of ingredients: human-grade or feed-grade.
Humans eat “human-grade” food, meaning it meets the standard for “edible.”
With pet food, if it is made with only human-grade ingredients, it will also contain human-grade supplements.1
To meet Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for “complete and balanced” pet foods, manufacturers purchase vitamin and mineral premixes that are added to the slurry during production.
Typically produced in bulk for agri-business, these synthetic feed-grade premixes are supposed to be blends of the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals. But sometimes they’re not.
Excessive levels of vitamin D in premix products were the source of a recent lawsuit with about 300 plaintiffs, some of whom had more than one dog sickened or killed. Most recalls of feed-grade pet foods are due to the mass-produced premixes.
Even though a few pet food manufacturers have been making human-grade claims in recent years, less than 3% of pet food products are actually made with human-grade ingredients, including human-grade vitamins and minerals.
For the most part, kibble and canned pet foods are considered feed-grade as they are made with feed-grade ingredients. Some gently cooked foods and raw foods (dehydrated, freeze dried or frozen) may be made with human-grade ingredients, but many are not.2
When you do find a pet food that contains only human-grade ingredients, expect it to cost more. Clean, government-inspected-and-passed meat (especially ethically sourced meats) costs a lot more than meats that fail inspection and AAFCO-approved waste products – or meat-meals from unknown and untested sources.
So, what exactly makes up feed-grade food? Let’s take a closer look, if you can stomach the details...
The Unsavory Truth About Feed-Grade Pet Food
Most owners have little idea of what they are actually feeding their pets when they buy ultra-processed pet food (kibble and canned food). I believe that if they knew, they might think twice about buying it.
Feed-grade ingredients are essentially waste products of the human food industry, and include the unwanted parts that are unsuitable for humans to eat. If a food is not food-grade, it is feed-grade.
These AAFCO-approved waste products come from various sources, including:
- Meat slaughtering and processing plants
- Dead (including diseased) animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal control agencies and other facilities
- Fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores
All of the ingredients are combined and put through a “rendering process” to make different types of meat meals, which are not approved for human consumption, but common ingredients in pet food.3
First, the rejected tissues and approved waste material are combined in large containers where they are ground down to chips or shreds.
The mixture is then cooked at 220°to 270° F for up to an hour to separate the meat from the bone. The grease, or tallow, that rises to the top is skimmed off and added later as one source of “animal fat” you see listed on pet food labels.
Finally, the remaining product is put into a press to squeeze out all the moisture and to pulverize it into a powder. Screens separate excess hair and large bone pieces from the rendered powder.
Keep in mind, the pet food rendering industry exists for one reason only – to turn animal and food waste not fit for human consumption into ingredients pet food manufacturers will buy.
My question to you is... Is it really what you want to feed your animal? Deciding what to feed your dog isn’t just about what you want in the food. It’s also about what you are trying to avoid...
From Carcinogenic Residues to Heavy Metals, What Else May Be Hiding in Your Dog’s Food
Here are some other things you need to know about your dog’s feed-grade kibble or canned pet food:
- Heat destroys nutrients and denatures proteins. Pet food ingredients are heated, on average, four times during processing before sitting on a shelf for up to two years, calling its nutritional content into question.
- Carcinogenic byproducts of high heat processing produce heterocyclic amines, acrylamides and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which pets consume.4
- Independent testing confirms higher-than-ever levels of lead and other heavy metals (often from tainted vitamin mixes), glyphosate, phthalates, flame retardants and BPA in pet food.
- Additives such as chemical preservatives, artificial colors, dyes, rendered fats, fillers and emulsifiers are used with most processed foods.
- Palatability enhancers are often added to trick pets into eating food that isn’t biologically correct – or tasty – for them.
But maybe the most potentially devastating ingredient is one you hope your pet never comes into contact with, because a single exposure could cause harm...
One of the Pet Food Industry’s Dirty Little Secrets That Could Kill Your Pet
Pet food companies would rather you not know, but countless animals have been sickened and many have died from eating pentobarbital-tainted food.5
Years ago, the FDA tested dog food for the presence of pentobarbital – the drug that’s used to euthanize animals. Testing 90 different brands of kibble, they found that 44, or almost half, tested positive for pentobarbital.6
Upon closer evaluation, they discovered the drug and euthanized animal were linked to common ingredients in processed pet foods: meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat and animal digest.
What’s even worse, at the time, pet food manufacturers were not required to recall those pentobarbital-contaminated foods, so no one really knows how many animals suffered.
I’d like to tell you that these were isolated cases and it no longer occurs. But I can’t. And today it involves more than just kibble...
In the past few years, nearly 30 different pet food varieties have been recalled because they contained both pentobarbital and meat from euthanized animals. More than 90 million cans of “premium” pet food were recalled in 2018. Recalls and lawsuits stemming from that event and others continue today.7
A recent incident that resulted in at least one dog death and many cases of sickness involved a pet food meat supplier who also had a side business as a dead animal carcass processor.
That’s right... This company removed dead animals from farms – including euthanized horses – and sold the contaminated meat to pet food companies. The suspected source of contamination was a euthanized horse that had been “added” to a mixture of beef sold to pet food companies.
Unless your pet food is made with human-edible ingredients, you really can’t know for certain the quality of the raw materials in your bag or can.
All the more reason to choose your pet food with extreme care...
Why Your Domesticated Pup Needs Clean, Excellent Quality, Species-Specific Food to Truly Thrive
Most feed-grade pet food contains 30 to 60% carbs and other biologically inappropriate fillers. Even so-called ‘grain-free’ diets are full of potatoes and tapioca.
Just take a look at the first 10 ingredients by weight in one of the top-rated dog foods sold online, in big-box stores and even some veterinary offices:
Brewers rice, brown rice, chicken by-product meal, chicken fat, wheat gluten, corn gluten meal, corn, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, dried plain beet pulp
How could these ingredients possibly meet your dog’s nutritional needs? They don’t, and here’s why these and other inappropriate ingredients shouldn’t be in your pet’s food:
- Rice, wheat, corn, “ancient grains” and tapioca are high-glycemic carbohydrates. Dogs do not have a carbohydrate requirement, so these fillers provide unnecessary calories from starch that your pooch doesn’t metabolically require.
- Chicken by-product meal is not the same as whole ground chicken. In addition to chicken meat that was deemed not approved for human consumption, it contains the rendered parts of chicken carcasses, including necks, feet, intestines and “unavoidable” feathers.8
- Corn gluten meal is used to increase the protein content on the label and isn’t organic, so we can assume it’s most likely genetically modified and contains excessive glyphosate.
- Corn, corn gluten meal and wheat gluten are major sources of mycotoxins and aflatoxins that typically aren’t measured when included in pet food, and can cause acute toxic illness and cancer.9
- Powdered cellulose is an inexpensive plant fiber that, in large doses, can inhibit your dog’s digestion and absorption of other nutrients.
Over the last century, the pet food industry has brainwashed owners into feeding their pets a lifetime of ultra-processed, high-carb diets (the equivalent of fast food) that can only sustain life, and not without potential metabolic consequences.
Most dry foods on the market don’t provide healthy macronutrient ratios for dogs or cats because the bulk of calories come from inexpensive carbohydrates.
Because carbs aren’t nutritionally required by either species, their metabolic machinery functions most optimally when carbs are restricted to less than 20% of overall caloric intake.
Introducing Our Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée for Dogs of All Ages
Dogs do best when they derive the vast majority of their nutrient requirements from fresh, whole-food sources. In the last hundred years (since fast-pet food hit the market), they haven’t evolved to thrive on a lifetime of highly refined, high-heat processed rendered pellets.
Excellent quality meat that provides all of the essential amino acids and organic, fresh fruits and vegetables that provide the bulk of vitamins and minerals are absolutely necessary for your dog’s optimal health and vitality.
As I hinted to earlier, Dr. Mercola’s team has finally been able to source the raw materials for a species-appropriate diet for dogs that contains humanely raised and sustainably farmed ingredients.
In contrast to the popular feed-grade dog food that we just talked about, let’s take a look at the top ingredients by weight in our Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée:
Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Bone, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Organic Butternut Squash, Organic Spinach, Organic Beets, Organic Blueberries
Dramatically different, isn’t it? Instead of feed-grade mystery ingredients, it’s made with high-quality 100% grass fed U.S. beef and organic vegetables and fruit.
Our Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée is:
- Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, so it’s appropriate for puppies and any size dog, including small, large and giant breeds.
- Made with 100% grass fed beef humanely raised on Midwest family farms without antibiotics, added hormones or grains.
- Made with sustainably farmed, organic vegetables and fruit, including butternut squash, spinach, kelp, beets and blueberries.
- Fortified to nutritional standards using human-grade vitamins and minerals.
- Carefully dehydrated with state-of-the-art technology.
- Tested for quality and stability.
- Free of antibiotics, added hormones, grain, gluten, glycerin, sugar, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée contains less than 8% net carbs, meaning the bulk of your dog’s energy requirements are met by excellent quality protein and healthy fat, just the way nature intended.
Crafted to meet canine nutritional needs, this grain-free and filler-free food can replace your dog’s current food entirely or you can use it as a to be tasty meal topper, a nutrient-dense meal several times a week, or a treat or snack.
Made with 100% Grass Fed Beef for Your Dog’s Nutrition and Your Peace of Mind
Did you know that grass fed beef can still contain glyphosate, a proven probable carcinogen, bioengineered grains and even antibiotics?
As incredible as that may sound, it’s true. There are currently no regulations for “grass fed” claims with beef, so this allows even grass fed cows to be fed grain-byproducts, including genetically modified grains, and receive routine antibiotics and growth hormones.
And because the grass fed industry is woefully under-regulated, there are no regulations concerning the use of glyphosate in non-organic grass fed beef production.
The only way you can avoid that risk is to choose 100% grass fed beef from a company you know and trust.
That’s exactly why we chose a select group of independent Midwestern family farmers to provide our beef, bone and organ meats for our Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée.
Holistically and humanely raised, these cows spend much of their lifetime outdoors grazing (except during cold Wisconsin winters when they are boarded during inclement weather), away from pesticides, antibiotics and bioengineered grains. They roam freely on grass pastures or are fed grasses that haven’t been treated with herbicides.
Not only is raising pasture-fed cattle the most humane way to produce beef, it’s also the most responsible way for the integrity of farmlands.
All of these independent family farmers’ cattle are born, raised and harvested in the U.S., and they utilize stringent, proactive food safety testing to make sure their products are safe for consumption by both humans and pets.
Top-Notch Quality Control Standards Help Ensure Your Dog’s Food Is Safe to Eat
I believe safety should always be one of your top concerns when choosing dog food. Unfortunately, with today’s commercially prepared, feed-grade pet foods, a food that you can trust is becoming increasingly hard to find.
That’s why we’ve chosen to team up with a trusted manufacturer who ‘walks their talk’ when it comes to safety. Their four-point quality control standards are second to none:
- Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs): Written cleaning procedures ensure employees are consistently using the correct cleaning and sanitizing procedures, ensuring their product is produced in a hyper-clean and well-maintained production environment.
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs): This system ensures product is consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.
- Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) Program: This detailed program analyzes their production process from start to finish, including raw material production, procurement and handling, manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product for any biological, physical or chemical hazards. Scientifically validated controls are implemented where hazards have been identified.
- Food Defense Program: This plan is implemented to protect their food products from contamination or adulteration intended to cause harm.
The combination of quality control standards like these with high-quality, human-grade raw materials, including 100% grass fed beef from small, independent Midwestern family farmers, organically grown vegetables and fruit, and human-grade vitamins and minerals helps ensure your dog receives food that is not only bountifully nutritious, but also safe to eat.
Designed with Your Convenience in Mind, Stock up Today on Healthy Pet Essentials Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée for Dogs
I wanted to create a food that was not only nutritious and safe for your pet, but also easy for you to store and feed.
Dr. Mercola’s shelf-stable Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée is ready-to-feed straight from the bag. There’s nothing to prepare or thaw. Simply add water, wait five minutes, stir and serve.
Here’s what else makes it so convenient... Unlike true raw food, you can serve it to your pet and leave the house without worry of it spoiling. And because it doesn’t require refrigeration, it’s perfect for traveling, camping and boarding.
Our Healthy Pet Essentials Dehydrated Raw Grass Fed Beef Entrée is the perfect nutritionally balanced food you can feed with confidence as a complete meal, a nutritious topper or the ultimate treat. Order your supply today.