So many dog owners are willing to pay top dollar to provide the best for their dog in every way. With that in mind, human grade dog food has gained popularity in recent years.
More and more brands are jumping on the claim. Which leaves more and more dog owners wondering if they should be buying into the hype.
So what is human grade dog food? Should you feed your dog human grade dog food? And what are some of the best human grade dog foods on the market?
Well, my canine-loving friend, you’re in the right place! Let’s get to the bottom of this dog food mystery.
We’re going to unpack what this term even means, if it’s good or even better for your dog, and some of the best choices out there.
What is human grade dog food?
In short, human grade dog food is a term that pet food manufacturers can use if every ingredient in their dog food, and the finished product is safe for human consumption.
Now let’s dive into the details a little.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an association of agencies that are responsible for regulating animals feed, like dog food. They create rules and standards for things like nutrients, quality control, processing, sales, and terminology associated with animal feed.
And, AAFCO does have official guidelines for dog food companies that label their food human grade. It’s not a term that can be thrown around as easily as say “natural” dog food. But falls more closely in line with a label like “organic”, which has a set of rigorous requirements.
For dog food to tout a human grade label here are the requirements:
- Every ingredient AND the finished product has to be stored, handled, processed and transported in a manner consistent with human food safety standards
- Every ingredient must be safe for human consumption
- The manufacturing facility where the dog food was made has to have a license to produce human food (thus making it truly human grade)
So to sum it up--human grade dog food has to be made in a factory that is licensed to make human food and follow safety guidelines and protocol for every ingredient in the dog food at every step of the manufacturing process.
Is human grade dog food better?
The problem with the term human grade dog food is that it can be misleading for the buyer. While dog food companies can’t work around the safety factors of using the term, “human grade” doesn’t have any specific nutrient requirements tied to it.
In other words, human grade dog food could be a crap combination of ingredients that don’t meet the nutritional needs of your dog—but happened to be made in a human food compatible facility. You see what I mean here?
Luckily, most of the brands that produce human grade dog food DO follow nutritional guidelines and make high-quality foods.
Many of the top human grade dog food companies are producing very nutritionally optimal and customized meal plans for their clients—but dog owners should beware that human grade doesn’t necessarily equal healthy or better.
Other things to know about human grade dog food
Human grade dog food is relatively new to the market, but more and more owners are interested in learning more. Quite a few celebrity pet owners use and love human grade dog foods, which is certainly fueling the trend!
Here are a few other things to know about it as you contemplate the switch yourself:
- Human grade dog food is far more expensive than conventional dog food. When I plugged the info in for my dogs with one popular human grade dog food brand, I found that it would cost $126 per WEEK to feed our German Shepherd, $63 per week to feed our lab, and $42 per week to feed our husky (my guess is that price variations heavily reflect the quantity your dog needs based on their weight, activity level, breed and age)
- Human grade dog food companies create meal plans for your dogs based on their unique needs. It’s far more customized than standard dog food. To achieve this most companies ask you a series of questions about your dog before recommending a “plan”
- Human grade dog food companies often send a few different meals each week. The idea is that just like a human would get bored of the same thing at every meal, so does your dog
- Most human grade dog food is not shelf-stable, meaning you need to refrigerate or freeze it
- With most brands, the food comes in individual packages to open each day. A few brands come in dehydrated form which requires a bit of prep at each meal
What are the best human grade dog foods?
Here’s a list of some of the most popular human grade dog foods available. Some of them are available to order on Amazon, Chewy, or at your favorite pet store, like these:
Others are more customized and need to be ordered directly from the brand’s website, kind of like a human food meal service such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.
I recommend reading specifically about a few before deciding what's right for your dog and budget.
Learn more about your dog’s food
Human grade dog food is a great option for some families. It’s convenient and undeniably fresh but definitely comes with a high price tag. For many dog owners, a well-researched, conventional dog food is totally fine!
To learn more about choosing the right dog food, check out some of my other articles: