What is the Deal With Human Grade Dog Food?

What is the Deal With Human Grade Dog Food?

If you are a pet lover you are seeing more ‘human grade’ labels on pet food. Human grade…for dogs. As though human grade means something. Cheetos are human grade. So are pizza rolls. Did your eyes just glaze over there? Okay, but these human grade items aren’t even human. So don’t get all highfaluting that dogs are somehow getting in on your shtick, stealing your special food thunder. Is human grade dog food a thing or is it just marketing?

What is the Deal with Human Grade Dog Food?


Pet food labeling, pet nutrition, dog nutrition, human-grade pet food, pet food labelingEveryone wants to know what they are eating…until they don’t. I really want to know what’s in my Wendy’s Asian Cashew Salad, but you really don’t have to tell me what I’m eating when I elect to eat a potato chip. My guess is there’s very little potato in it. La la la la…ignorance is bliss. But ignorance can hurt you. Pet owner’s demands for more transparency has caused angst in the commercial dog food industry. What human grade really means is that it is fit for human consumption. But… I just told you that I, like you, would eat a potato chip. So really, is there a big difference?

What Does Human Grade Mean?

Human grade also means that the entire process has regulations to ensure strict standards for how the food is prepared – ensuring quality, cleanliness, and safety. In a nutshell, human grade also means that the food is prepared in a facility that complies with the FDA’s standards for human food. There are over 100 standards a food company must meet to receive the official “human grade” label. A pet food label might claim human-grade since they’re using USDA approved meat. But the meat may or may not be edible (e.g. human grade).

Is There A Dog Grade

Read: What is the deal with human grade dog food, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDog.comYup. There appears to be different regulations for pet food. These ‘regs’ (found in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA)) focus on limiting adulteration and misbranding. The FDA ensures therapeutic claims (e.g. weight loss, cognition, etc.) and, along with the USDA, performs site and food inspections. The FDCA is designed to quash poisons and product found to injure a pet. If you really want to get the skinny on ‘dog-grade’, read this article, and this HHS Pet Food Label article, and the FDA’s Regulation on Pet Food report. In general, pet food is ‘feed’ quality – meaning the animal that comprises your dog’s dog food protein can eat the same dog food…and it’s not human-grade so you shouldn’t eat it. Is this the circle of nonsense? Maybe. One thing for sure, there’s plenty of room for antibiotics in this cow-eat-cow world. You don’t want to eat antibiotics by the way…and you don’t want your dog to eat them either.

Important Facts About Human Grade Dog Food

Human grade is not just a labeling term, and while you may see these words on pet foods…dig in. Read. Research. Understand if it is a marketing term or actually meets the FDA’s regulations on human food consumption. Do pet food companies want to cause your pet harm? No. I honestly believe that pet food companies care about pets. Keep in mind that it is a business, and they drive their price point to a location where the general public has tolerance. Meaning, most people grew up paying very little for their dog’s food (recall this?) and so to go from that to coming out of pocket for an official human grade dog food could be challenging. Remember, it’s not just about the ingredients…it’s about the whole system of the food (from preparation, packaging to distribution that must comply with human grade regulations). This is why most pet food companies settle for using human grade ingredients. Pet food is an evolution, and we’ve come a long way baby!

Tips for Getting Human Grade-Like Dog Food

Ideally you want to seek out companies who affiliate with human grade accreditation. When in doubt, make your own dog food and be in control of the quality of what your pup eats (we have some resources for you below). Make sure the first ingredient of the dog food you serve your pup has a high quality and well-sourced protein. Don’t accept a protein from a country you do not understand or condone their pet-food sourcing. Ideally, the first 1/3 – 1/2 of ingredients should be whole foods, not chemicals or names you can’t pronounce. We avoid ‘meal’ products such as poultry or corn meal, as they can include 4-D animals (dead, diseased, disabled or dying prior to slaughter), as well as by-products (hair, hoofs, etc.).  We also avoid corn and soy ingredients. As I always say: go organic! Organics are growing in popularity in the pet food industry, and are a good way to ensure that your dog is getting whole foods good enough for you to eat!

Honest Kitchen | Feed Your Best Friend Better
Unlocking the Canine Ancestoral Diet | Dr. Becker’s Real Food

You might also enjoy reading Our Dog Has a Magical Butt, Time For Fish!

Food is one of the most important things we need to pay attention to when it comes to our dog, and ourselves. So is water. Food and water…simple things really. Isn’t it funny how simple things can get so darned convoluted? We’d love to know what you make of all of this human grade dog food labeling stuff – leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogThanks for reading, and until next time – take care and keep on lovin’ your dog!

MattieDog A little dog making a big impact in this world, MattieDog, social media superstar, animal advocate, animal author

A little dog making a big impact in this world!® MattieDog Gets Adopted, a dog's view of being rescued and adopted



Share Some MattieDog!

Rebecca Sanchez is a nationally recognized leader in the human-animal bond. Known as "The Pet Lifestyle Guru™" at MattieDog (her heart dog)! Rebecca is an award winning writer that blogs about her life with her doggos, and sometimes about her husband who reluctantly agrees to participate in her shenanigans. Rebecca's work can be seen in numerous dog magazines, and in her books on Amazon.


  1. Thank you so much for addressing this important topic! It can be so hard to read around all the marketing gimmicks and flashy text to determine what is right for your pup. I try to make sure that we BOTH eat healthy, with fewer and healthier ingredients if we go the processed route…but, man, I don’t think I want to know what’s in a potato chip, either!

  2. I am totally fussy about knowing what goes in Mr. N’s food and treats. But I will eat potato chips… and may just have.

  3. Understanding pet food can be confusing sometimes. This was very informative.

  4. Getting the best food you can afford matters for every pet doesn’t it. That means more knowledge, more care by us humans for our fur family members!
    Dash Kitten Crew recently posted…Our Amazingly Successful 2016My Profile

  5. Such an important post – it’s so important for pet owners to understand exactly what they’re feeding their pets. Our cats eat human grade meats – and often better than we humans do!

  6. Thanks for this! Human grade is the new catch phrase on pet foods and I often wondered what it actually meant!

  7. We have a dog bakery near us that makes human grade dog treats. To back this up, they try to get the humans to sample their treats when you go in there! I haven’t ever tried them since I am vegetarian and most the options are not veggie. Your post reminded me of that. Thank you for sharing about what human grade ingredients means!
    Katie Allan recently posted…FAQs about Siberian HuskiesMy Profile

  8. When it comes to this I do not use dog food from companies, only supplements, all Layla’s food is made at home and I am happy with this

  9. Great article. Keep it up. No way do I want my dog or cat eating non-human grade food. If it finds a way to a rendering plant, it’s not something I would ever feed. Home prepared food here all the way for the pooch!

  10. Food regulations can be so confusing! I’m glad that more companies are moving toward higher standards for pet food. Like you, I believe that most companies do care about pets and they have to work hard to make products that can sell in a particular price range. Consumers simply will not buy a product that is more expensive than they think it ought to be. My income is on the low side, but I always buy the best food for my cats that I can with what I have.
    Robin Mudge recently posted…Funny Cat Picture: Feather FunMy Profile

  11. This is an interesting article, thanks for shedding (pardon the pun!) some light on this. I read pet food labels a lot, I prefer premium quality pet food that is healthy and of high quality and doesn’t cost a fortune.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. What an awesome article – I just tweeted. I’ve been feeding Darwins Raw Diet for a long time and I have more peace of mind as I trust the ingredients they put in their meals. What I also love about this is the resources you added! Unlocking the Canine Ancestoral Diet -I haven’t heard of this so I’m ordering on Amazon ASAP.

  13. The pet food industry is VERY confusing. I wish it was easier (or less scary) to make balanced meals at home, but right now it is most convenient to get prepared food at the store. That means we will continue to read, research, and be aware so we always feed the best!

    • Hi Polly – check out some of the resources I mention at the bottom of the post. They have some easy DIY recipes that are truly worthwhile and nutritionally balanced!
      MattieDog recently posted…What is the Deal With Human Grade Dog Food?My Profile

  14. Great article and POV! I’d love to have you take a look at what we’re doing with high quality products from artisan companies at http://www.pupjoy.com

  15. This is very insightful. Being a marketer, am quite skeptical about the whole human grade food for pet out there, I do home made for my Lab which I augment with processed food hence I have to take my time to research on this subject. Thanks for this post.

  16. Thank for your arcicle. I want a food that is nutritious and easy to digest for my dog. Please suggest some kind for me !


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This