Is Commercial Pet Food Safe?

kibble spill

We share our lives with our dogs. It makes sense that we share our standards of food with them too.

We cannot continue to feed them like farm animals. Why? Because it may be unsafe to do so. According to the latest FDA video announcement shown below, doing so brings contamination, toxins, bacteria, illness, and possibly death into our homes.

FDA’s “Pet Food and Treats in Your Home” Video:

Therefore we have two options:

1) Stop caring for pets as we currently do; or
2) Change our standards on how we feed them.

The FDA, some vets, and the public are now asking whether standard commercial dry dog food is safe, as we learn more about the dangers that can be attributed to the production of dry dog food and its processing, called “Extrusion”. 

Extrusion applies to all kibbles (dog and cat food). While some dry dog foods claim to be “better” than others, many veterinary nutritionists argue “all dry foods are the same.” 

This month, a paper reporting the “Outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Infantis infection in humans linked to dry dog food in the United States and Canada” was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. It highlights the temporary closing of a plant producing sixteen brands of dry dog food, over 30,000 tons of it, because contamination from this plant made at least 53 known humans ill.

So this poses the obvious question –do we know whether what we are feeding our dogs is safe?  Have we been feeding them an unproven product? 

Discussions about the safety of kibble have lead to the realization that we simply do not know, since there is no ‘gold standard’ of comparison. For the most part, veterinary and government attention to this matter has been absent because the extruded diets were perceived as good enough at worst, and highly nutritious and safe, at best.

The paradigm as to what is “good enough” for our pets is changing.  Today, the pet food industry is regulated by the same standards that are used for feed animals (farm animals). One could argue this may have been entirely appropriate over the last 80 years, where pets were regarded as an extension of the farm, maintained outdoors, and were lower on the totem pole than humans. 

As attitudes toward pet ownership have evolved, pets are now regarded as equal family members. They sleep in our beds, kiss our faces, share utensils, and share our lives. Thus the human/animal bond with pets has developed and the consensus is that this has been a positive move for humanity, with no signs of reversing.  Studies have linked the human/animal bond experience to lower rates of death and lower rates of depression in humans.

JustFoodForDogs believes in option #2 above, and wants the standards to change.  We use only the highest available standards to make our diets, the same standards that the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines use for humans recommend, and the safest standards on the planet for ingredients:  USDA certified ingredients, lightly cooked in small batches in our restaurant quality kitchens.  We maximize our nutrients from whole, real food ingredients, and we supplement our diets only with what is necessary per the National Research Council recommendations for dogs.   Simply put, JustFoodForDogs is the Gold Standard in canine nutrition.

Veterinary Toxicologist Dr. John Tegzes, MA, VMD, DABVT comments on the FDA’s “Safe Handling of Pet Food in the Home” video:


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