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  1. Kristen Magneson

    This is frightening! I just ordered a large bag of Acana Dry dog food under the impression that it was human grade pet food. Their website can not be that misleading, can it?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Regulations consider a pet food website to be an extension of the pet food label. To make a human grade claim, a pet food is required to be 100% human grade (USDA inspected and approved human edible) ingredients, 100% human grade supplements and manufactured in a human food facility. If Acana is stating ‘human grade’ on their website and they don’t meet all of these requirements – yes, they are being misleading.

      1. Adam

        I find that surprising, as Champion/Acana/Orijin DO claim to be “human grade” – I even spoke with them about it. They also said that their fish was NOT processed in China (all is “locally” sourced and processed in Canada). If that has changed, I am sorely disappointed. The only reason I switched (and I switched to Nature’s Logic) is because of the boar hunt fiasco.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          If you are in the US, the Champion pet food sold in the US is no longer made in Canada. Champion pet foods sold in the US are manufactured in Kentucky now.

          1. Holly

            I thought only Acana was made in the US. And that Orijen was still Canadian made.

        2. Dianne & pets

          What was the boar hunt fiasco?

      2. Delores

        The new USA made Acana cat foods make my cat sick…and it was only a few pieces! I had been a loyal Acana cheerleader for 4 years. No more. They source their dried meat ingredients from “Europe” and have added pinto beans, catfish, and goat. They totally ruined the brand in the USA.
        They are going to “enhance” Canadian made Acana and Orijen in 2017. Dear Canadians and World (except USA), You better pray they don’t make it anything like they do here in the USA!

      3. Bob Pressley

        They are stating human grade and just because they are a member doesn’t mean they are lying does it? All US Champion foods are made in the US except 6 fish & tundra currently.

      4. Amy

        Susan, to my knowledge, the only pet food that has received the certification for being human grade is The Honest Kitchen.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          No – there are several others. Frenchy’s Kitchen, Caru, Rudy Greens, Evermore, Just Food for Dogs. Hope I didn’t forget anyone.

          1. windbourne

            Susan, As crazy as this sounds, have you thought about making your own dog food for sale?
            Seriously, I know that I would buy it.

          2. Cheryl Bond

            She can’t, because then it would be a conflict of interest, because she acts a consumer advocate.

            I wish that someone would though. Personally, I feel that if someone only has a small amount of animals, it’s really not that big a deal to make homemade raw, or buy that really is the best way to go, as NOTHING commercially processed evens comes close to raw, nothing.

            With that said, someone like myself that has MANY cats, & I am a rescuer, who is always having rescues to care for, plus MANY feral cat colonies to feed & care for, it’s impossible financially or time wise for me to be able to do everything the way I would like to do.

            It’s stressful to me that I know all this new-found knowlege, but cannot incorporate it all 100%. I do the best I can, I truly do.

            I wish some ethical minded person would start a pet FOOD company & purposefully be very “no-kill” as far as marketing & pretty artwork & instead use that $ towards quality ingredients & quality manufacturing processes, including have their own manufacturing facilities, as to insure quality control & care.

            Obviously most of us know that (especially for cats) a kibble is the least desirable food, but when feeding many feral colonies, that’s unfortunately, the main food source. I use what I believe to be the better kibble, in comparison w/ say like crappy Fricken, Meow Mix etc. I use Costco’s brand Kirkland Signature, which I know is not perfect by any means, but these Ferals gotta eat, & it’s way better than most those other brands. Ugh! I am glad I know what I know…but I just wish I could implement it all…Maybe if I ever win the lottery!

          3. Cheryl Bond

            ***”NO-FRILL”.. NOT. “NO-KILL” damn auto-correct! Lol.

          4. Regina

            Spot Farms claims on their labels that they are human-grade. They started with treats, but now make a powdered “food” that you add water to. Since they are owned by the Perdue chicken monolith, I wonder if their claims are accurate or not. Susan, is there any way to find out???

          5. Susan Thixton Author

            Yes – to my understanding their pet food does meet the requirements of human grade.

          6. Maggie

            Isn’t Weruva chicken and beef tinned foods human-grade?

  2. Holly

    What pet foods are not on the list? My dog likes Earthborn and Blue Buffalo.

    1. Reader

      The is a Reply to Maggie (unfortunately she didn’t check the reply box)

      From their website is this comment:

      “Our formulas are produced in a human food facility using many of the ingredients and processes that are used in products made for people. Our base proteins of chicken, beef and fish include only top quality muscle meat, such as white breast chicken, whole tuna loins and select cuts of beef. Then we add fresh vegetables and other unique items such as Grilld skipjack, tilapia and red bigeye tuna, as well as calamari and shirasu. Our ingredients maintain a natural look and recognizable texture which allows the pet owner to see and understand the ingredients…so what you see is what you get!” I can’t remember if they returned the Pledge. That would be the best assurance of all.

      I have no affiliation with any PF products.

      1. Kristen Magneson

        No mention of Nothing From China.

        1. Reader

          And they didn’t return the Pledge to Quality and Origin (I checked) which would’ve declared whether or not they source from China.

  3. Peter

    You correctly discuss that PFI is just a U.S. trade (lobby) association of pet food manufacturers. My understanding is that 98% of the commercial cat and dog food made in the United States are active members. Their mission statement identifies themselves as as “the industry’s public education and media relations resource, representative before the U.S. Congress and state and federal agencies, organizer of seminars and educational programs, and liaison with other organizations.”

    PFI is well funded by its members. As you discuss, it prioritizes industry profit metrics, representing the industry before the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FDA, FTC, AAFCO and Congress. In promoting industry interests, PFI opposes federal or state legislation that might impart costs or impose more concentrated supervision over pet food manufacture. Members of PFI serve on AAFCO advisory boards including the Ingredient Definitions and the Pet Foods Committees. So I guess you’ve met some of them… !

    PFI has for decades aggressively defends the use of rubbish and by-products in pet foods as additional income for processors and farmers. From their 1994 Fact Sheet: “The growth of the pet food industry not only provided pet owners with better foods for their pets, but also created profitable additional markets for American farm products and for the byproducts of the meat packing, poultry, and other food industries which prepare food for human consumption.”

  4. Paula

    Wow Kristen, I actually missed that Arcana and Orijen were on the list! That is frightening. I thought they were a good company. I’m happy that I use Fromm & Honest Kitchen for my dogs.

    1. Kristen Magneson

      At least Acana does not put the Chinese Supplement Packs in their food. They only seem to supplement with Zinc.

      They state on their website that they DO NOT use anything but fresh or frozen fresh meats and that they do not use any of the 3D foods.

      Maybe I need to look at Fromm. But I have this large 26 pound bag that was just delivered to my door of the Range Free Poultry. They also state that everything is organic on their website. Are they lying?

    2. Kristen Magneson

      This is from their website:
      Unmatched by any pet food maker, our unmatched variety of authentically fresh regional ingredients mirrors the natural diet, supplying nutrients in their freshest, most natural form.

      From cage-free poultry, nest-laid eggs, ranch-raised meats and wild-caught fish to sun-ripened fruits & vegetables, our fresh ingredients are raised locally, passed fit for human consumption, and then delivered to our kitchens fresh, preservative-free and loaded with goodness.

      Equipped with state-of-the-art fresh food processing technologies, our award-winning NorthStar® kitchens are located in the center of Alberta’s dynamic agricultural community, providing access to specialty farmers with whom we partner to advance our fresh regional ingredient mission.”

    3. Tracey

      Go to dog food and look up the type of Acana you are feeding. Then look at the ingredient list. Next open this page: and compare the ingredients between the two. The third ingredient in Acana Heritage is beef meal. The definition on the website for meat meal is:

      “Meat Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. It shall not contain extraneous materials not provided for by this definition. …. {the definition goes on to include the required mineral specifications and required nutrient guarantees}….. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, composition or origin it must correspond thereto.”

      The rendering process is designed to destroy disease-causing bacteria, leaving an ingredient high in protein that while unappetizing to people appeals to the carnivore’s palate. Unlike “meat” and “meat by-products,” this ingredient may be from mammals other than cattle, pigs, sheep or goats without further description. However, a manufacturer may designate a species if appropriate (such as “beef meal” if only from cattle).

      Definitely NOT human grade. There is no such thing (yet) as human grade kibble. Your best bet is to buy Honest Kitchen and add your meat to it.

      1. Kristen Magneson

        In the Acana Free Run Poultry Formula for dogs that I just started my greyhound on the first three ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken giblets (liver, heart, gizzard), and chicken meal.

        Further down the list is chicken cartilage and a little bit further down is freeze dried chicken liver and freeze dried turkey liver. There is not supplementation other than zinc.

        Is this company just making the best use of the whole chicken as they state they do all processing in house and do not have external suppliers.

        Do I need to worry about the chicken meal or is this a meal that they made themselves?

        I REALLY want to believe that Acana is a decent kibble for my dog.

      2. rich

        Meat meal and beef meal are two different things as are chicken meal and poultry meal. Ingredients used in Acana and Orijen are 100% passed fit for human consumption. This includes their meals.

        1. Kristen Magneson

          thanks Rich, this gives me a little more hope on the Acana.

        2. Maxine Schmidt

          Big plus.

        3. Interested

          True statement.
          Do you work for the company?

          1. RichFIBS

            RICH ALWAYS answers for Champion Foods on DOG FOOD FORUM TOO ! I told him he would get caught as am employee posting this information to promote them

          2. Ashley

            I am not a champion pet foods employee, but I will vouch for them. Their Kitchens are emasculate and are human grade facilities, their ingredients are human grade, their food may not be but i mean, they are made for animals whom of which are anatomically designed to digest raw foods and such, Champion Pet Foods foods are biologically appropriate and are created to fulfill a dogs nutritional needs.
            “Every meat, poultry or fish ingredient used to prepare ORIJEN and ACANA foods are produced exclusively from animals and fish that gave been deemed fit for human consumption, and all are produced in Category 3 facilities. Category 3 facilities can only receive animals that were slaughtered for the purpose of human consumption, in a human grade facility, and passed pre and post mortem inspection by an FDA veterinarian. Both the ingredient processor and the ingredient are certified as European Union or Category 3; the HIGHEST ingredient standard in North America, and perhaps the world.”

            Susan do you even have pets? If so I’d love to hear about what you feed them.

          3. Susan Thixton Author

            I have 2 dogs and 4 cats – and I home cook for them. Yes – I ‘even have pets’.

          4. Susan Thixton Author

            Kibble is not made in a “kitchen” – that is a consumer friendly marketing term used by several pet food companies. Kibble is made by an extruder using heat and pressure to produce anywhere from 5,000 pounds to 20,000+ pound batches of pet food. I have nothing against Champion pet food, I don’t like any pet food company using marketing tricks to mislead consumers. And the PFI – which Champion is a member – actively works against the wants and needs of consumers. I’ve witnessed it first hand many times at AAFCO meetings.

      3. Chase

        “Beef meal” and “Meat Meal” are listed separately as ingredients by AAFCO. If it states “beef” it must be beef. If it states “meat” it can be any kind of meat to include euthanized pets and roadkill.
        I’m not supporting Champion, I’m simply stating the difference between the two.
        Kibble of any kind, including Fromm, still causes chronic dehydration, is full of carcinogens from cooking, and is nothing more than cereal. You might do better only eating Cascadian Farms cereal than if you only ate Fruit Loops but you still wouldn’t thrive and be healthy. There is no such thing as a “healthy” dry kibble. There is only such thing as a “less toxic but still causes cancer and taxes the kidneys and body” dry kibble. Is saving a few bucks a month on pet food really cheaper than vet visits later in life? Realistically you can get a dehydrated raw/freeze dried/ air dried or raw food for $30-70 more per month than feeding a kibble like Orijen.

    4. Julia

      They are a good company. They’re one of the most honest labelling pet foods out there. Their new bag labels say what percentage each ingredient makes up in the food. They only use human grade (level 3) meat and only level 3 processing plants. That being said, I don’t believe in feeding only kibble. Dogs need fresh food! My guy has kibble but he eats freeze dried and fresh food. Raw meat and bones too!

      1. Reader

        Not being sarcastic at all, but where are the Levels defined or explained? Does Level 3 mean much or just better than Level 1 (poor) or what is the ranking system? First time I’ve ever heard the term regarding PF manufacturing.

        1. Ashley

          “Every meat, poultry or fish ingredient used to prepare ORIJEN and ACANA foods are produced exclusively from animals and fish that gave been deemed fit for human consumption, and all are produced in Category 3 facilities. Category 3 facilities can only receive animals that were slaughtered for the purpose of human consumption, in a human grade facility, and passed pre and post mortem inspection by an FDA veterinarian. Both the ingredient processor and the ingredient are certified as European Union or Category 3; the HIGHEST ingredient standard in North America, and perhaps the world.”

  5. JT

    Thank you so much for this, Susan. This is such important information that needs to be exposed. For a long time, you have done the dirty work (presumably not without risk) on behalf of so many. So to say thank you seems trite but please know we are extremely grateful and thank you for this information.

    1. M W

      I agree. Thanks for the list Susan.

  6. Sara Thomas

    Exceptional, informative article thank you. It is frightening the lengths to which the PFI goes to…

    I was relieved the food/brands we use were not on the list and surprised Orijen/ Champion Foods was given what I thought was quality ingredients in Orijen’s cat food.

  7. Mary Meyer Johnson

    Great article. Thank you for the list, Susan.

  8. Susan Weyrauch

    It’s voluminous, and populated by makers of some of what I consider the best kibble around! It would almost be more helpful to list who’s NOT a member. . .

  9. Susan Mael

    Thanks for the info! Very helpful – but, a follow-up might be a listing of pet food companies that are NOT beholding to PFI so that consumers might get a better idea regarding what commercially-available pet foods are more likely to be food vs. feed.

  10. Emily

    Glad to see Canidae is not on this list, but how discouraging that nearly ALL the major brands are. Thanks for the info.

  11. Erica

    This list is so beneficial ! There are a few brands on here that I considered a good food and actually have recommended to adopters for an economical source , but only as a last resort. I am very pro raw. but understand it takes time for some to get on board with it. Any way’s these foods that are helping to support PFI are now OFF my list of foods I’ll recommended to feeders !!

  12. Kristen Magneson

    I have the feeling that Acana and Orijen sold their souls when they moved from Canada to Kentucky but I sure hope not!!! Maybe they joined this organization for reasons other then wanting to downgrade the quality of their food. Does it really mean that they want to compromise their food because they did join?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Being a member of the PFI does not mean the company wants to compromise their pet food. Being a member of the PFI means the company is part of an organization that has worked to defend waste ingredients in pet foods, delay pet food safety laws, and mislead pet food consumers.

      1. Donna

        which also means a company that cares about the quality of their product and the health of our pets should hold PFI accountable for their regulations and definitions – OR – they should not join such organization.

        1. Interested

          Unless….they’re trying to work from within, to be an influential voice towards the standards which they advertise on their website …

          … just saying…. not promoting or demoting Champion.

  13. soldiermom1

    Glad to see Nature’s Logic and The Honest Kitchen not listed. All natural, made with real food. Thanks, Susan for all the good information. I have learned so much from your web site and all you do to keep us informed.

    1. Kristen Magneson

      Well I can NOT afford Honest Kitchen for my large greyhound so I guess I will transition over to Nature’s Logic Lamb Kibble. That is the only kibble of theirs that is low in protein. All of the other kibble from NL is 38 – 40 %. At least the lamb is 32% which I would not like to exceed.

      1. Chase

        Assuming your greyhound is 80lbs and needs 1,600kcals/day you’d be feeding 4 cups a day of Nature’s Logic Lamb and 3 cups a day of Honest Kitchen Keen (as an example).
        If you bought the 26.4lb bag of Nature’s Logic Lamb for $74 it would cost you $84.10/mo to feed your dog
        If you bought the Honest Kitchen Keen for $58 it would cost you $130/mo to feed your dog.
        That’s $46 more per month. Google shows in multiple places that the average cost of a vet visit, just to walk in the door, is $55. This doesn’t include testing or treatments which average at $250+. Therefore, if you add up the total of extra you’d be spending on food that’s $552/year which is slightly more than 2 vet visits. It’s guaranteed that if your pup gets cancer (from carcinogens), kidney failure or heart problems (from chronic dehydration), a dental (from excessive starches in food leading to digestive bacteria imbalance… pretzels don’t clean our teeth… kibble doesn’t clean dog teeth), digestive problems (from a lack of enzymes in live food), etc, etc, etc it’s going to take a lot more than 2 vet visits a year to diagnose and treat the problem (which cannot resolve because a body on nothing but cereal can’t heal since it’s too busy trying to digest all the time…. digestive transit time of kibble is 12-16 hours, dehydrated and raw is 2-8 hours, digestive transit time of a dogs intestinal tract is 6 hours… so your dog doesn’t even have time to try to digest out the 24 synthetic, potentially toxic vitamins and minerals in kibble (though you can get over 8,000 nutrients from a piece of broccoli, cooked pet food is only required to have 24 nutrients to be “complete and balanced”) before he/she poops it out)

        1. Bob

          Is the raw data from the research available somewhere online?

          1. Chelsea

            It’s just a mathematical calculation of the retail price of a large size of the food, the number of calories per cup, the mass of an 8oz volume cup (so the number of cups in a bag can be determined) and the number of calories that an average 80lb dog needs in a day. The average vet visit number is from multiple Google websites…. They all say the same thing if you type in “average cost of a vet visit.”
            Aside from that the side effects of feeding kibble long term are not only common sense but there are numerous studies showing that kibble contains carcinogens (and fire retardants, and denaturing agents made of coal tar, carbolic acid, food coloring, synthetic vitamin mineral packs sold with a skull and crossbones, etc) and that carcinogens and chemicals result in cancer. There are also numerous studies showing the effects of chronic dehydration. There are also numerous studies on a dogs anatomy and thus the digestive process which does not biologically support the digestion of kibble. Also, if you call companies like Science Diet or Royal Canin, as I have done several times, and ask them they will tell you that they don’t know their sourcing “but we know it’s good”, that they use paper from the poplar tree as an ingredient, that their studies are either “so old” or were done by college students (now employed by said companies) that took random shelter dogs with no history or veterinary comparison and they compared them after two weeks for their results. As Susan stated, these companies have lobbyists on the board of organizations such as PFI which authorize the legitimacy of claims made by these companies. It’s not a legal process. There are literally thousands of sources of this and more information online, much of it on government websites if you know what you’re looking for

          2. Pacific Sun

            You’re looking for (or assuming one has been done) a Scientific Study disproving the value of kibble in favor of fresh, whole food. Who would fund such an effort? And who would profit from such information? Certainly not PFI manufacturers who have no interest in such comparisons.

            Why do we think that what supports good canine health is so much different (and less necessary) than our own requirements? We would NEVER think to simply maintain on a series of 100% nutritionally balanced “Carnation Instant Breakfast Bars.” Certainly not for our children, athletes, our aging population who are in greatest need of dietary health and welfare. Yet because we don’t always “see” the effect on our dog companions, we don’t second guess the long term effects of a kibble diet.

            The Follower “Chase” posted an excellent synopsis of common sense. Including a basic economic analysis, comparative cost of veterinarian treatment, the effect of dehydration on animals (particular cats). Perhaps his keynote is “….a body on nothing but cereal can’t heal since it’s too busy trying to digest all the time” … up to 12-16 hours a day!!

            Bottom line is that whole, fresh, abundant nutritional value is COOKED out of kibbled food, and replaced with SYNTHETIC (mandated, but limited) vitamins and minerals! People have a hard time believing this, or the summary provided by “Chase” because the power of advertising has overwhelmed every (uninformed) PF consumer out there! Nobody in their right mind, can wrap their head around the fact of why would an INDUSTRY being doing actual harm to companion pets?

            I am going to “cut and paste” this very efficient summary to help others understand, when they question. (Thank you Chase!!)

        2. Kristen Magneson

          Why does Honest Kitchen have to put synthetic vitamins in their food if it is so wholesome. I was seriously considering Honest Kitchen until I saw they used Sodium Selenite instead of natural selenium. Why would they do that?

        3. Kristen Magneson

          I just got off the phone with Honest Kitchen here in San Diego (their headquarters) and asked why they put copper and sodium selenite etc. in their food and they started with the song and dance that it is a new AFfco requirement for cats so they also added it to the dog food starting in August and September of this year. They started reading off their statement. I asked who their supplier for their new added supplements were and they said it was proprietary information and they could not give it out. This is what all of the dog food companies tell you! I asked why didn’t they put the non-sythetic version of Selenium in their food and they said that some animals get yeast infections from the natural yeast version of Selenium. Geeeez, even Acana and Natures Logic don’t put this crap in their food. Sorry for the rant but this is just so frustrating! So they are saying their food does not need it but the are being told my the Federal Govt. to put it in the food.

          1. Reader

            No commercial PF will ever be perfect. And THK is better than most all of then, and a Go-To for raw feeders wanting convenience. But their responses don’t add up. Before the formula change on Preference I raised dogs on it by adding a whole food protein! For my older dog with arthritis issues there was value in the Alfalfa they used to use. They took it out because (they said) it conflicted with their non-GMO standards.

            But they replaced it with PEAS! I tried using the new formula in different ways, different protein, more water, less water, this and that. But my dogs’ stools were never the same thereafter. And sloppy stools led to more problems. They said I should add pumpkin. They said (at first) I wasn’t following the recommended proportion, then I should rehydrate less, then longer etc., etc..

            I pay a premium for a PF that I can totally depend upon and serves my dogs’ needs. Not one that I have to excessively experiment with, it’s just ridiculous. So I switched to SoJo (formerly Sojourners Farms). Worked liked a charm. And later, finally figured out that I could just use my own oatmeal, or brown rice or sweet potato and veggies. My dog has never had a deficient blood panel in his life!

          2. Kristen Magneson

            Thanks Reader. What do you mean by PF? What does PF stand for?

          3. Kristen Magneson

            Reader, you are right Sojos appears to be better than THK and less expensive if purchased from NO synthetic vitamins. And you are right, no peas. They stated on the website to take 7-10 days to transition.

            How would I transition from Acana Kibble to Sojos Complete? I feed her 1 1/2 cups dry twice a day currently. Would I just start adding the mixture to the dry and start reducing the dry level?

  14. Jane Anderson

    When a dog starts spilling protein into the urine, then sometimes it is best to feed a low protein diet. Even Mary Strauss suggests this.

  15. Betsy

    This is fantastic information.

  16. Ellie

    Do not be fooled by brands that use words like “nature,” natural,” “healthy,” etc., in their name or sales techniques. Rotting flesh is considered “natural” as is salt and tons of corn. Vets just do what the pet food manufactures tell them. They have little knowledge of nutrition. Vets leave the feeding of pets to the pet food industry that fund their schools and businesses.
    It is sad to see the surrender of human and pet physicians to the food industry that is dedicated to the bottom line rather than quality food and nutrition. They are forcing the average American into buying genetically modified foods and meats that come from abused livestock that has also been injected with hormones, antibiotics, steroids, and multiple other chemicals throughout their lifetimes. Compare the “all natural” chicken in your grocery store to a mass produced chicken. The mass produced chicken is twice as big – at least! It is also much less expensive.
    But the food industry is not satisfied! They want to sell their garbage as pet food and the FDA is fine with that. It’s big money and that is what counts these days. Big corporations and banks now own 60% of the American economy.
    The independent manufacturers and producers have been squeezed out and bankrupted by corrupt politicians that manipulate trade for what we now call “special interests.” Most of what we buy today is manufactured in slave labor countries including many “food” ingredients. The stock market has soared for years as millions of jobs disappear and American wages continue to drop. (Over 51% of American workers now earn less than $30,000 a year) The question is: are American consumers going to wake up or just submit to this new normal of disease causing foods and cheap low grade products?

  17. Kristen Magneson

    I would love to be able to feed “honest Kitchen” to my greyhound but their largest 10 box would only feed her from 10 – 20 days and is $88.00!! But it is definitely human grade.

    1. Tracey

      You do not need to feed 100% Honest Kitchen! My 50# active dog gets 1/3 C 2 x day with about a 1/3# of various meats 2 x day. Yes, it’s still not inexpensive but the vet bill for cancer or other nasty diseases are horrendous and your animal will die years younger. To me it’s worth spending the money on food instead of the Vet! You can also cut the food bill further by adding your own vegies, fruit and cooked grains like oatmeal. See the Planet Paws website/FaceBook page for lots of great healthy tips!

      1. Michelle

        The Honest Kitchen is an excellent. food. I supplement with lightly cooked beef or chicken and either a small amount of broccoli or kale. I use organic. Tracey I 100% agree with your comment. This is what I do also for my 65 lb Lab/Coonhound mix.

    2. Reader

      Regarding Preference, I don’t have the box in front of me, but THK rehydrates at a very, very generous ratio. I put maybe a quarter cup dry in a measuring cup, add water, set overnight, and get from 2/3 to 3/4 cup hyrdrated mix. As the other Reader suggested you can augment with a healthy steamed veggie (and I use steamed sweet potato, even locally farm raised brown rice) and add real cooked stew meat. Half his diet is RAW (only about 12 nuggets daily). The other half is the cooked whole food. The dog has more energy than I do! And his blood work always comes out balanced. The cost is honestly NOT more than the giant bag of Orijen!!

  18. Robin

    Between tainted animal foods and treats and over vaccinations, I have made the very difficult decision to go pet-less after 34 years of pet ownership. I simply do not have the time to make homemade treats and meals. Additionally there are virtually no places where my dog can run free. I can not subject my animals to state meditated poisons. Sad but true.

    1. Dianne & pets

      I completely understand your position and honestly think I may do the same when the pets I have pass on. Perhaps you could do one last thing and write to the FDA and AAFCO and the PFI and tell them your decision and why.

    2. Reader

      People have lots of reasons for deciding not to continue with pet ownership. Mostly expense. And some heartbreak in losing a favored companion. But mainly, as we get older, we don’t want our beloved pet to outlive us without the assurance of a continuing loving home!

      But I would caution against using the excuse of a wanting a perfect ready made diet or worrying about environmental hazards. You know we live our own lives making compromises every single day. Sadly I know of friends, absolutely committed to Organic and living a far healthier lifestyle than I could even imagine, who still fell very ill. People look for a perfect dry pet food which doesn’t exist. Best alternatives include rotation, family run companies, supplementing (yet not full out homemade) with whole food. My dog eats half raw nuggets, half whole food (cooked beef & sweet potato). That’s it. One hour total for the week (and I don’t even cook for myself!). I used to live in the City with no off-leash access. When the dog was young, bought a 50 ft. lead, went to a campus parking lot off hours, and let him run to his heart’s content, chasing birds! We also walked the neighborhood twice daily. And we enjoyed a wonderful bond with him exploring little adventures of his walked his favorite, familiar haunts. He was vaccinated only twice (puppy & adult). And always checks out great at the Vet!

      If there’s room in your heart, and time left in your life, I’m sure there is still some deserving rescue or purebred who’d benefit from your care, that will do just fine, even though we have to navigate this very imperfect world!! Don’t let the PFI win this battle … the movement is growing!

  19. Jane Eagle

    Kristen Magneson I also love Honest Kitchen, but cannot afford it for my 4 huskies ($700/month!). That’s when I began making my own.
    Susan, if this is against your policy or best interests, please delete:
    This is what I feed my dogs:

    One goal of NGPFMA is to fund research that supports the whole industry, not just the kibble manufacturers.” This sounds great; but traditionally, the “research” is done on dogs, to see how many survive.

    1. Kristen Magneson

      Thank you Jane, I bookmarked your Facebook page. Very helpful! I have been contemplating home cooked.

    2. Reader

      This is a fabulous recipe, but a “helio” of a lot of work!! You must love your dogs more than life itself! (Wink!)

      I do half raw (AM) and half cooked whole food (PM) so he’ll get the organ meats, ground up bone, and proper ratio of vitamins & minerals. Could never get enough weight on him using only raw though, without the diet causing very, very loose stools. So found a happy medium, using sweet potato, and sometimes brown rice.

      The think I would only caution on the use of bones (that aren’t ground up). Is there anyway a regular consumer can grind bones, or does it have to be done by a butcher? I had another dog who loved to chew so much, that he did end up breaking a couple of teeth over 16.5 years.

      Thank you so much for sharing this recipe by making public on your Facebook page for who don’t have a FB subscription!

    3. Reader

      This is a fabulous recipe, but a “helio” of a lot of work!! You must love your dogs more than life itself! (Wink!)

      I do half raw (AM) and half cooked whole food (PM) so he’ll get the organ meats, ground up bone, and proper ratio of vitamins & minerals. Could never get enough weight on him using only raw though, without the diet causing very, very loose stools. So found a happy medium, using sweet potato, and sometimes brown rice.

      The only thing I would caution is the use of bones (that aren’t ground up). Is there anyway a regular consumer can grind bones, or does it have to be done by a butcher? I had another dog who loved to chew so much, that he did end up breaking a couple of teeth over 16.5 years.

      Thank you so much for sharing this recipe by making public on your Facebook page for who don’t have a FB subscription!

  20. Antonia DeBevec

    Well every pet food court including those that are supposedly using better quality ingredients are on the PFI list. My cat was recently diagnosed with CKD & all those companies that make KD canned food are on the list. What’s an informed consumer to do?

    1. Cheryl Bond

      If you are willing to feed your cat a raw food diet, Darwin’s raw pet foods has a line of specifically formulated foods (need a prescription from your Vet for it) for cats & dogs that is formulated for Kidney disease. It is formulated by a licensed Wholistic vet who is advanced in pet nutrition education, so you can be assured it’s the proper diet for KD ; although you might not be supported by your Vet to feed a raw food diet. You really have to stick to your guns, so to speak. If you educate yourself about raw food feeding you’ll then feel more confident if your Vet challenges you. Sometimes it’s time to move on from a vet that does not think in a way that supports your beliefs. A more Holistic/integrated vet is usually the better way to go. Darwin’s can also help you feel more confident w/ this new way to feed your pet by answering any & all questions you might have. Linking with other raw food feeders that are experienced & have been doing so for a long time can help avert any fears that you may have.

    2. Linda Horn

      I also have a cat with failing kidneys. Apparently, cats with impaired kidneys need a diet lower in phosphorus. There are a couple of ways to achieve this. One is to feed a KD prescription diet food, which is lower in protein. The other alternative is to add a phosphorus binder like chitosan to the cat’s regular food. I’ve been adding a nutritional supplement called Epakitin (recommended by my cat’s vet) to my cat’s regular food for over a year now. Her water consumption and urine output have returned to near normal levels, and her appetite has improved. She is still somewhat thin, but she has gained back much of the weight she had lost over the last few years.

      I hope you find something that works well for your cat’s situation, so you will have many more years together.

  21. Jane anderson

    Kristen I think the honest kitchen preference is cheaper than their food with meat. I have always felt that it is much better to purchase my own meat for my dogs. Then I just add the meat to preference

  22. Marsha

    After talking with Orijen at length I will not purchase it again She would not say where the 6 fish would be sourced from. I use Earthborn and have for quite a few years. Now I am concerned about them as well. I have been slowly switching to Honest Kitchen. I will gladly pay the price for it. Never tried Fromm but looks like I need to check into it.

    1. Tracey

      Dog Food Fromm is no better than the rest of them. 🙁

      1. Christie

        Just curious. Where did you see that about Fromm on dog food advisor? Fromm is listed as one of their editor’s picks choice brands for September 2016. DFA rates all of Fromm’s foods from a 4 to a 5 (they tend to give higher protein selections higher ratings). I’m not trying to be mean, I’m genuinely curious because I switch my dogs between Fromm and Weruva. I left Acana after they started making it in the US and it’s just not even close to the same food as the stuff from Canada.

  23. susie

    Would it be possible to have the list of the pet food companies that you have not listed? Are there any?

    I buy Origen and this is one of the rare food that are low in carbohydrates and that has good amount of protein in it. Although, it is listed here I don’t think that all of the companies listed are as equally “evil” and should therefore all be avoided.

    I think that opposing companies just because they are part of the PTI is too simplistic. There are companies that are providing food which is has very poor nutritional value and there are companies at the other end of the spectrum that are providing food with better nutritional value.

  24. Lynn

    Ok, I’ll be the first to comment and likely have to duck shortly after.

    I think you may have gone just a bit over the top by saying that any manufacturer that is a member of the PFI is in total support of the rulings of the PFI. As you have stated:
    “The Pet Food Institute is a trade/industry association that is heavily involved in the AAFCO process of making state pet food law, and heavily involved in Washington D.C. with the federal law making process. From the PFI website: “Advocating for legislation, regulations and technologies that support the domestic manufacture and global distribution of safe, quality pet food”.”

    Maybe I am just very naive but could it be possible that some of the members are actually trying to convince the “bad guys” to do the right thing? Has it occurred to anyone that without have some good guys within this organization no other point of view will be heard? It is unwarranted to lump all these manufacturers together and suggest they all want money at the expense of our pets.

    Just saying…….

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      You bring a valid question. And the only input I have is that from my experience working on AAFCO committees, the only voices from the pet food industry representing PFI are representatives from Mars Petcare, Purina, Big Heart and Science Diet. Advisors to the Pet Food Committee and multiple other AAFCO committees are representatives who are employees of these companies – and only these companies. I was told – though this is rumor – that the companies that get a voice in PFI dealings are those that pay more for membership. I was told by a pet food manufacturer that did not have that voice paid $70,000 a year to be a member.

      1. Susan Thixton Author

        Don’t think I explained the above very well…further explanation:
        AAFCO allows trade associations a voice in the regulatory process, just the same way AAFCO allows consumer associations a voice. But…AAFCO does not allow industry directly to be an advisor to committees. PFI works around that by positioning some of its members – employees of pet food manufacturing – as advisors as representing the PFI. As example, for years a PFI representative by the name of Jill Franks was advisor to the Ingredient Definitions Committee. But Jill Franks was not an employee of PFI, she was an employee of Mars Petcare. The PFI places employees of its members into significant positions at AAFCO to provide them the opportunity to influence law. Granted it should be PFI representing all of its members, but historically (at AAFCO) it never appeared that way.

  25. Ian

    I applaud you and Dr Alinovi for the creation of the Next Generation Pet Food Manufacturers Association… I think that is really the highlight of this story and possibly historic.

    When PFI bought up your associated domain names and pointed them to their own website that basically said it all about their lack of integrity.

    How can the common retail consumer support your Next Generation Pet Food Manufacturers Association…?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I am not affiliated with Next Gem – in fact, because Dr. Cathy now represents pet food manufacturers (even though they are the good guys of pet food) I made the decision to not post her articles any longer on (even though they aren’t about her members). I solely represent and advocate for consumers. That said – because I know her and have been friends with her for so many years, I feel free to give her ‘my two cents’ on issues that would effect consumers – and I know she takes that into consideration.

      The thing that consumers can do to help is to encourage small manufacturers to get to AAFCO meetings – be a part of the process. Not just one meeting, every meeting. If they can’t do that, then they need to become a member of the trade association (Next Gen) that will be there for them. It’s so important for quality minded pet food manufacturers to be involved in the AAFCO and FDA process. I honestly think they are afraid to become involved – if they are, that is very unfortunate for us and them. Most quality minded pet food manufacturers have almost identical complaints about the system as consumers do – so we would be battling for the same issues. Certainly there are going to be things we disagree on, but if they don’t become actively involved – consumer representatives have a more challenging fight.

      Long story short to answer your question – consumers need to encourage their pet food to fight for what consumers want. They have to become involved.

  26. Tom Reedy

    What about Wellness (WellPet) owned by Berlin Corporation?

    “WellPet LLC is a pet food company formed by the combination of Wellness Natural Pet Food, Holistic Select Natural Pet Food, Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food and Old Mother Hubbard Natural Dog Snacks, purchased by Berwind Corporation. WellPet is headquartered outside of Boston, in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.”

    1. Ian

      Tom, according to Wikipedia, Wellpet LLC was purchased and is owned by Berwind, “Berwind Corporation (also known as Berwind-White Coal Mining Company) is a large privately held American corporation historically involved in the coal industry.”

      I stopped feeding Wellness when that happened. Of course they don’t like to publicize these chains of ownership.

      In reply to other threads above regarding the eternal price/quality feeding dilemma particularly for those with larger dogs, my experience is that making your own food is the most affordable and no more expensive than buying a premium kibble (thanks Jane Eagle for describing your process); BUT if you or your pet’s caregiver cannot make the food — then a dehydrated food like Honest Kitchen is great but expensive. One of my dogs won’t eat the Honest Kitchen that includes dehydrated meat —so I did switch to their Base Mix that you add your own meat to; it’s marginally less expensive but not really since the base mix box only weighs 7 pounds compared to their regular 10 pound box. The main benefit being — the one dog prefers the fresh meat to the dehydrated meat.

      I recently noticed a new freeze-dried food at Amazon that I am trying now, representing themselves as family owned and operated

      In the last year in a fit of cheapness i tried a new organic kibble from Costco– within a month my smaller dog was at the vet with a UTI due to changes in her urinary pH. So much for saving money with kibble.

      In regards to Fromm, I do have an impression of them being at the top of the kibble list, due to their still being family owned and operated, and owning their own manufacturing (not contracting their recipe out to a conglomerate) family owned and produced in-house I think inevitably leads to more careful operations and inspection of ingredients …. so if you’re going to feed kibble, I think they are actually one of the best along with Newmans Own. Of course I do think kibble has inherent drawbacks so I don’t recommend relying on it as a primary lifelong food source any more than I would eat it myself for a lifetime.

  27. J Dominguez

    I’ve been feeding Exclusive premium cat food to my cat. I gave her the choice between Exclusive and Iams. She would eat none of the Iams.
    I didn’t see Exclusive on the list, and it’s cat approved, so I hope we’ve made a good choice.

    1. Dianne & pets

      My vet told me that Royal Canin was buying IAMS and would be making changes to their product line to avoid duplication. I will leave it to your imagination to determine what that means.

      1. Susan Thixton Author

        Mars Petcare owns both Royal Canin and Iams/Eukanuba (and many other brands).

  28. lynn swanson

    so what pet foods are we left to choose from? It if frustrating to say the least,

  29. Tom Reedy

    While browsing on the Internet tonight about different types of rice, specifically basmati rice, I stumbled upon a blog on and wanted to ask about this dog food processor with the following excerpt from their website.

    “… meat use in processed dog food is loaded with toxins. We are very well aware of the lack of regulations and compliance exclusions that exist. We believe dogs do best on a lightly cooked, whole food diet made with real human grade ingredients. Nothing processed, nothing feed grade.”
    Dr. Oscar E Chavez BVetMed MRCVS MBA
    Chief Medical Officer
    10867 Portal Dr
    Los Alamitos, CA 90720

  30. Tom Reedy

    As a follow up to my previous post on, I submit the following assessment by The SkeptVet ( for further comments:

    “Reminiscent of the “just like homemade” marketing approach often used to sell packaged foods for people, JustFoodForDogs makes heavy use of terms like “scientific” and “evidence” in their marketing to suggest that dry commercial diets and the ingredients they contain are unsafe and that their packaged frozen cooked diets are better. While these diets appear to meet all the same standards for balanced nutrition of other commercial diets, including AAFCO feeding trial tests, the evidence offered for their superiority is so far scant.”

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      SkeptVet – is just that – skeptical of anything other than the normal can and kibble. Just Food for Dogs was the first pet food company to complete an AAFCO feeding trial of dogs in a non-kennel laboratory setting. They used dogs in homes. And I believe they continued the test for one year (AAFCO only requires six months). SkeptVet is wrong – this company does have the science to back up their claims. I think your questions would be best sent to the pet food company however – not me or SkeptVet.

      1. Tom Reedy

        Point taken, will do as you suggest. I just wanted to get your perspective on this. Thanks for commenting.

  31. Heidi

    Orijen IMO has taken a turn for the worse. First the new bag is a pound and a half smaller and is the same price, $76 for now 25 lbs. I had an old bag and I compared it with the new – more freeze dried stuff, less fresh, and at least seven kinds of beans and legumes. I’m sorry, but a dog ‘in the wild’ is not going to eat beans and legumes. It’s a way to boost the protein content cheaply. Same with Earthborn, loaded with peas, which had my dog pooping three times a day, before noon and even in the car. I found Orijen after a very long and exhaustive search to find something not made of junk, or beans and peas (not desirable in a greyhound). Now it seems it’s on a slide down to meet all the rest of them. Not happy.

    1. Delores

      Heidi, I completely agree with you about Acana and Orijen! Crappy ingredients now imported from “other countries” and crappy USA ingedients. Try finding the address of their USA suppliers on google maps. You can’t. They wanted a big chunk of the USA pet food profits and the customer got the shaft. Hope they choke on that 85,000,000$$$ plant.

      1. Janet

        What ingredients do they import from other countries? I find it hard to believe that they don’t source locally. I’ve called their suport team and they said pretty much everything is regional except the lamb I think, cause there isnt a bi enough company in canada for it. What do you define as “crapy” too? Have you considered there suppliers (farms) don’t have a google listing?

        Heidi: how dare a company raise prices when they improve there foods!! I thought beans and legumes were included caus the have a lot GL opposed to potato? plus there is more fresh, not less!!

        1. Kristen Magneson

          I am gong to trust Acana for now. I may be sorry but thru all of my research they seem so much better than alot of other foods that are in my price range. We will see, I guess. What to do?

        2. Bob Pressley

          Ingredients from other countries? Where in the world is this information coming from???

        3. Bob Pressley

          From other countries? Where is this coming from?

          1. Kristen Magneson

            The Acana/Orijen Lamb comes from New Zealand

    2. Mary Delaney

      Heidi, I’m not familiar with Orijen, so you may want to take this comment with a grain of salt, but my corgis (now all passed on in old age) LOVED beans, and so did my cats. My dogs also ate fallen peaches from our tree, and tomatoes off the vine. The cats got angry if I gave the dogs vegetables and didn’t give them a few beans in their bowls. My Simba cat would dig pumpkin and zucchini bits from the box set aside to go out to the compost bin. He also loved cooked carrots. They all got a balanced diet but loved getting extras. They weren’t exactly “in the wild” but they seemed to pick up on each others’ love of vegetables.

  32. Sheryl Attolini

    Just wondering still about victor dog food, from texas. Dont see it on the list. I feed arcana, so need to find another dog food. Victor, hasbitsbown plant, local sources of meat, but its cheap, so i have my doubts????

  33. Damiane de Wit-Guzman

    Which brands do you recommend?

    1. Reader

      Susan has a List of PF she would feed her own pets because she is asked so often. A donation is requested to support the advocacy work (such as attending AAFCO meetings, keeping up memberships and subscriptions to periodicals) but from which there is no profit.

      I am NOT affiliated with the website or the author, and only represent my own comments.

  34. Dr. Laurie Coger

    Doesn’t Champion manufacture (co-pack) for other brands? I thought they did a few years back, but can’t remember with certainty…

  35. Katrina

    Are the brands EAGLE PACK and HOLISTIC SELECT safe for my dogs? They are not mentioned in the list as far as I can tell?

  36. Maxine Schmidt

    I, too, was an Acana advocate, with my some of my own proteins added. Am now looking around to see what other companies may be quality oriented. Thanks Susan, and everyone for your enlightening comments.

    1. Kristen Magneson

      Now that is an idea. I could add some of the suggestions to the Acana such as the Evermore, Rudy Greens, Caru, etc. Just reduce the Acana by the amount of the wet food. At least that would be healthier yet not so expensive as feeding all human grade.

  37. Writer

    Susan, so I guess you are saying that we are to buy just about no commercial cat food unless it is certified human grade.
    I have tried the Honest Kitchen numerous times and it looks like diarrhea and my 3 cats won’t go near it.
    Primal and Bravo raw use the HPP process. Hound & Gatos has meat and then a ton of synthetic vitamins/minerals.
    I was going to try Nulo but the dry and canned is manufactured by CJ Foods and Simmons foods, both which you suggest avoiding according to this post,
    I have the cats on Nature’s Variety canned and Fromm dry for now. Fromm is always highly recommended, but one of their foods has barley, white rice, potatoes, so really, how good is this company’s formula? But they do own their own cannery. I know little about Nature’s Variety but I need a can food.
    I tried Nature’s Logic but the cats don’t like it much and it caused the most horrendous stinky stools I have ever smelt!
    I have both versions of your cookbook and the cats liked most of the receipes but I am almost vegan and can’t take the meat smell cooking and it’s time-consuming and messy clean-up.
    Carna4 (no synthetic vitamins and minerals) will have a dry, mostly organic cat food soon.
    A small company makes Open Farm, certified humane, dry food. I will probably buy this dry again rather than the Fromm. Both are Canadian, one made is Canada, one in USA.
    I am just angry and frustrated about this whole pet food subject! Not at you, but at the corporations.
    I have no interest in any commercial raw food. Raw food (probably the bone) increases stomach acidity and after 2 years on Primal, I had one cat vomiting blood from a (likely) ulcer conditions. He’s great now-cooked food only.
    I need to feed some dry because at close to $2 a can with 3 cats=not affordable at all.
    I, like another reviewer, will adopt no more pets after these 3 I love have spent their time on this earth.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Just my opinion – the only guarantee a consumer has to quality of ingredient is human grade pet food. Human grade would be required by law to be the same quality as human food. All other pet foods are not (actually, they are – it’s just the law is only enforced with human grade pet food). It boils down to trust. Do you trust the company you purchase your pet food from? If you do, that’s all you need. My suggestion would be to have them earn your trust; ask questions. The answers gives you reason to trust them.

  38. Pacific Sun

    My older dog was raised on the original (70/30) Orijen. Long before the website. And the substitution of peas, lentils and legumes. Currently there are few websites (other than Wysong) who spend so much effort on (repetitive) verbiage “explaining” their pet food practices. I get it …that it’s their competitive edge to talk about everything! But a nagging little voice wonders why, for such a novel company like Champion, standing so much above all the others, why they need to provide THAT much text on the website.

    The 80/20 formula (using separate recipes) never worked for my two unrelated, very healthy dogs. And those dogs could eat nearly anything. I asked Orijen what changed? They said oh the problem was my dogs. And later I figured out the difference for myself. But resent they weren’t upfront about the change. Even if only 1/10th of what they claim is true, it is still far and away better than the mundane kibble on the market. And if my current dog could digest it, then I’d try it again.

    The point of my Post is to say, that a company with that much (narrative) intelligence shouldn’t even “need” to belong to the PFI Association, especially considering what’s going on in general. Unless networking is a competitive insight into marketplace trends and innovations. Still, given what Susan has explained about the Association, their goal certainly doesn’t seem fitting for a company like Champion to be involved with. It is disappointing.

    The only other reservation is why hasn’t Champion returned the Pledge to Quality and Origin? They should be entirely proud of what they stand for, and more than willing to make it public.

    1. Kristen Magneson

      What you stated here so well is what is “nagging” me about Acana. Like you said, even if they are lying somewhat hopefully they are not using the old restaurant grease in it etc like so many of the others. They state NOTHING from China. Wouldn’t this have to be true? If everyone took the time to read all of the pages and pages of information from their website nobody would use ANYTHING BUT their brand.

      Would it help to call them and ask them why they are not signing the pledge? Or would one just get the “run-around”.

  39. Mari

    What questions do you have about Natures Variety?

  40. Regina

    Also, Mars Petcare makes Nutro foods and Greenies.

  41. Janice

    Regarding text on a website: Of course any company will try to make its own product look good. Still, I am all in favor of as much information on a website as possible. The more the better! At least Acana does provide complete nutritional profiles. Other supposedly good companies do not. And some, when asked, absolutely refuse to provide the information, claiming that it is proprietary. What are they hiding? I am concerned about imbalanced nutritional profiles of some companies, even though in other respects these companies seem to tick off all the right boxes.

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