Dirty Secrets of the Pet Food Industry

by Sarah Holistic Pet CareComments: 154

pet food industry dirty secrets_mini

By Linda Zurich

We’ve all seen it on TV and printed in magazines – advertisements for commercially manufactured, highly processed cans and bags of pet food.

Such ads have become a fixture in our media, an integral aspect of our culture for decades. They always seem to depict the happiest, most contented people, along with the healthiest looking, most beautiful, vibrant, clear eyed, glossy coated, friendly, lovable and adorable cats and dogs imaginable.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

These advertisements, while seemingly innocuous, are actually extremely sophisticated in terms of the ways in which they’re designed to appeal very powerfully to our subconscious nature, so as to coerce us into purchasing the products they’re pushing.

They often anthropomorphize animals, causing us to identify with our pets even more closely than we already do. The ads sometimes also strive to convince us that the kinds of foods that are appealing to and/or perhaps healthy for us, are also good for our animal friends to eat.

The Ploy of “Delicious” Pet Food

Many pet food ads also make a big point of focusing on how delectable their products are, driving home the point of how much our pets absolutely love and crave the taste of them. Since these ads are obviously not meant for the animals themselves to watch, it’s almost as if the advertisers are trying to make our human mouths water with the kinds of graphic descriptions they use to convince us of just how incredibly yummy and delicious these pet foods really are!

Besides the irresistible flavor of the products they’re promoting, these ads also often describe the ingredients pet foods contain as being utterly wholesome, exceptionally nutritious, and totally geared toward promoting the good health of our pets.

Pet food commercials often give us a very warm, fuzzy, comforting feeling. They can be very effective at engendering in us a sense of safety and security, as if to convince us wholeheartedly that the products they’re selling are a really good, solid, nourishing foundation upon which the health of our pets can be built. These ads can make us feel that if we buy the products they’re selling and feed them to our pets, that by doing so we’re taking the best care possible of our beloved furry friends. The ads lead us to believe that by feeding our animals their particular brand of products, we’re making the best choice possible to ensure the good health and longevity of our precious, beloved animal companions.

Pet Food Is All About Branding

We get ‘branded’ when we get sold on a brand and plunk down our hard earned money to buy that particular one.

And yet despite how effectively these pet food ads evoke such feelings in us — feelings of being so safe and secure, so good about ourselves, and so comforted in the notion that the products they’re convincing us to buy are such a good healthy choice for our pets to eat on a daily basis – the real and startlingly contradictory truth underlying the pet food industry at large is a subject about which the vast majority of people remain quite blissfully unaware.

Most people have no idea that virtually all of what goes into those cans and bags of pet food are vast amounts of waste products – many of which are pretty darn nasty – that are left over from the manufacture of food for human consumption.

Another significant portion of the ingredients used in the manufacture of commercial pet food is derived from genetically modified grain crops, particularly soy and corn, which are virtually always heavily sprayed with toxic petrochemical pesticides and herbicides, and grown in depleted soils treated with synthetic fertilizers.

I believe the term “junk pet food,” which is the phrase I use to describe commercially manufactured pet food, was coined by Australian veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale. He’s the author of two books about raw feeding for pets, entitled Work Wonders and Raw Meaty Bones.

The reason I call it junk is because after doing a great deal of research and digging very deeply into this subject, it has become abundantly evident to me that the majority of these pet food products are of extremely – nay, shockingly – poor quality. In fact when it comes to providing the kind of nourishment our carnivorous companions truly require to thrive, the vast majority of these pet foods fail miserably, and many, in my opinion, are downright dreadful.

That many pets can even survive at all on a lifelong diet of such abysmal junk food is truly a remarkable yet tragic testament to their incredible resilience and adaptability.

We who are interested in learning about, purchasing and preparing the most nutrient dense, wholesome foods possible for ourselves and our families, are all too well aware of what a profoundly deleterious effect the consumption of poor quality, highly processed junk food can have on our human health.

Pet Food Leads to Chronic Pet Ill Health

Well, the same is true for our furry friends. And the epidemic of chronic ill health in the form of debilitating ailments such as periodontal disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer etc. etc. in the junk pet food-fed domestic pet population is surely a telling parallel.

So just what are the dirty secrets of the junk pet food industry? The most disturbing, nitty gritty details, which are beyond the scope of this piece, can be found by reading several online resources which are linked at the end of this post.

To provide an overview here, what’s most important to know is that the bulk of ingredients used in most commercial pet foods come from places called rendering plants. Rendering plants are facilities designed to process a wide variety of leftover waste products, a number of which are quite unspeakable, and most of which are derived from the production of food for human consumption.

Here’s a partial list of items that are routinely sent to, and processed by, rendering plants:

  •  Slaughterhouse wastes, including most all portions of animals that are not generally considered to be fit for human consumption, such as heads, hides, spines, hooves and diseased body parts
  • Diseased, disabled, dying or dead livestock deemed unfit for human consumption, aka 4D animals
  • Expired meats from grocery stores, including their plastic and styrofoam packaging
  • rancid, overcooked oils drained from fryolators, and filthy grease from grease traps from fast food and other restaurants
  • The bodies of domestic cats and dogs that have been euthanized, sometimes right along with flea and tick collars still attached around their necks
  • Road kill, YES ROAD KILL!

Rendering plants take the above sorts of items and throw them all into a giant auger to pulverize them.

The resulting ‘soup’ is cooked at extremely high temperatures, surely at least in part to kill off all the potentially harmful bacteria, pathogens and parasites that may be lingering on dead, rotting flesh. However this very high heat also destroys much of whatever nutritional value the stuff may have ever had to begin with. Then the fat is rendered off, and what’s left is made into various products that are known by the euphemistic terms we’re used to seeing on pet food ingredients lists.

If you haven’t already, I would strongly encourage everyone reading this post who is concerned about the health of our pets to start reading pet food labels.

Here’s a partial list of suspect ingredients that come from rendering plants:

  • meat by-products
  • chicken by-product meal
  • meat meal
  • meat and bone meal
  • animal digest
  • animal fat (often treated with things like BHA and/or citric acid)

Also, notice how many junk pet food ingredients listed on the label are grain based, such as corn, soy, wheat, rice, sorghum or barley etc.

As you begin to notice how many grain based ingredients are contained in these products, please bear in mind that dogs and cats are carnivorous animals whose bodies were never designed to consume grains in any appreciable quantities.

For those of you interested in learning the details, below are links to several relevant web pages and articles that delve even more deeply into this troubling subject:





About the Author

Compelled by a passion for both learning as well as sharing about the most effective and natural holistic paths to healing and wellness, Linda Zurich is an ardent independent researcher with a deeply curious mind.

A prodigious writer, herbalist, foodie, educator and perpetual student of health, she is the author of Detoxification: 70 Ways to Cleanse, Clear & Purify Your Body, Space & Life. She has also written an ebook called Raw Fed Cats: Feeding Cats a Diet of Whole Raw Foods Based on Nature’s Model, and is the creator and author of the website http://rawfedcats.org where her ebook is available for sale.

Linda is devoted to empowering people with the knowledge that our bodies are imbued with a profoundly intelligent, natural healing wisdom — a capacity which is actuated by nourishing our bodies deeply and being proactive about detoxification, thereby exponentially strengthening our ability to regain and maintain vibrant health.

Linda’s book along with details on her upcoming speaking engagements can be found by clicking here.  She can be contacted at linzurich (at)yahoo.com


Sources and More Information

Choose Another Pet Food if Yours Has These Ingredients

How to Switch to Raw Pet Food

The Ideal Traditional Diet for Pets

The Pet Food Diet Deception

Picture Credit

Comments (154)

  • Iain P W Robertson

    The issues being confronted here but not necessarily by the rest of the market are entirely similar…no, identical to those of the human food industry. Instead of differentiating between ‘human’ and ‘animal’ food, surely we should just call it ‘food’ and suffer the inevitable on-costs? The various ‘modern’ ailments, from which our parents and to a much lesser extent our grandparents suffered, related to gastro-intestinal issues, IBS, ulcers, even cancers, could all be eradicated were we to check the ingredient labels on the product packaging. This is applicable to an even greater extent with our children. There are almost no differences between domestic pet GI-tracts and our own. Dogs possess larger livers for more extensive blood filtration, while their smaller pancreases cannot handle the immense amounts of sugar that humans can digest. Yet, treated correctly, to create balance in the dietary input, there is no reason why the family dog should not be able to consumer broadly similar foods to its ‘master…cats are a slightly different situation. The bottom-line is to eat wholesome, natural, pure foods, where no added sugar, salt, or fats are included and both humans and animals will benefit…perhaps even be ‘healed’!’.

    April 6th, 2016 12:31 pm Reply
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  • Ginger

    I am very picky about what I feed my cat. I thought I’d inform everyone that The Truth About Pet Food is overseeing an online fundraiser that’s going on now that is raising money for massive pet food testing. I think this is extremely important & word needs to get out widely about this so they can get enough money to do really extensive testing. Here is the link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-pet-food-test

    May 9th, 2014 1:24 pm Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      Why not just step away from the whole unholy “pet food” paradigm altogether and start feeding your pet a diet of whole raw foods, instead of promoting and/or funding some very expensive project to test commercial pet foods?

      No doubt all the pet foods that will be tested in this project are cooked, and are therefore in fact utterly inappropriate to feed our carnivorous house pets.

      That’s because just like their wild forebears and modern day cousins, which were designed millions of years ago to eat nothing but raw foods, our pets’ were never meant to eat a steady diet of cooked, highly processed food products. Rather their bodies are designed to thrive on a diet of whole raw foods.

      Therefore with all due respect, I submit that a project to test a bunch of processed, cooked pet foods is not only an exercise in futility, but is also quite frankly a waste of good money.

      Surely our hard earned dollars would be much better spent on purchasing a variety of wholesome, whole raw foods to feed our pets.

      May 9th, 2014 2:25 pm Reply
  • hiathul hoque

    It is very important to note that you cannot have the perfect way to store pet food. This is especially after it has been opened. You therefore need to ensure that you have bought food that will not last for a long time. When you do, ensure that you buy in several small packet packaging, to enable you keep the food fresh at all times. As you shop for pet food, ensure that you have confirmed the date of manufacture and that of expiry first. This will enable you to be able to store the food for a longer period of time.

    September 19th, 2013 10:51 pm Reply
  • Bryan

    I surely agree with Linda. My dogs went trough the same transaction. It was gradually slow and fast for others

    July 30th, 2013 7:14 pm Reply
  • Katrina

    In researching healthier food options for our cat I stumbled across your site. An earlier site I was on stated that it can take months or even a year to safely transition a cat to raw food. Currently my cat is eating an “all natural” brand of dry food that I thought was good for him. Are there any brands that you can suggest to use during the transition from dry to wet and wet to raw? I can’t find anything and have spent days looking into it.

    July 30th, 2013 2:39 pm Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      The length of time it can take to transition any one cat to raw inevitably varies depending on the individual animal, so there’s really no way to say for sure how long it will take your particular kitty to make the switch.

      I personally do not ever make recommendations on any brands of commercial pet food, however those products containing any sort of grains (or other starchy plant based fillers) are no doubt the worst, so reading labels is important.

      It’s also worth noting here that some kibble fed cats do not need the interim step of switching to canned (wet) food prior to making the switch to raw, so why not start implementing the suggestions in the Practical Guide section of my site as soon as you’re ready and see how things unfold from there?

      July 30th, 2013 3:10 pm Reply
  • Bryan @ Acana

    I like this! Do you have any pets or would consider doing a recipe for dog and cat food!! I like many of your recipes for humans! You surely could come up with a recipe for pet food! Thanks!


    June 30th, 2013 6:56 pm Reply
  • Sue Huss

    I feed my dogs a healthy homemade recipe but my cats will only eat garbage like fancy feast. They were strays so obviously raised on this not so good pet food.

    April 16th, 2013 8:05 pm Reply
  • dr. Munib Smajić

    In Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, wandering the streets more than 11,000. dogs. The same situation exists in other cities in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Most of this dogs were leave by their owners and thrown into the street because of the poor financial condition. The state of Bosnia and Herzegovina do any help for dogs.
    Organization for animal protection Bosnia Dogs collects food and cares for dogs. The living conditions of the dogs in the shelter are desperately poor. Most food purchased from your donations, and we try to create favorable conditions for their life in shelters for dogs. The rest of foods we collect at restaurants, kitchens and other places.
    The living conditions of dogs on the streets and in shelters for dogs follow at our Facebook page.

    800th dogs live in very poor conditions. Necessity foods for a day is the 400th pounds Monthly needs is 12000th pounds of food. Foods for these dogs have only thanks to your donations. Small donation for these dogs is very helpful. Please, Donate if you want to survive these dogs.

    Visit our site. Thank you.


    Your donation and the public announcement of the donation we obtained also promote your company and your products.

    March 10th, 2013 11:12 am Reply
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  • izzy

    (heard this before just didn’t know what to swich to) THANK YOU though, not a lot of people care enough to write something like this. (: a lot of people only care about their own pets ( or hate animals.) (I’m crazy about my pets! )

    November 9th, 2012 10:16 pm Reply
  • izzy

    I was wondering if you knew of or could list some good dog foods / recipes. (sorry if you did already. I didn’t want to have to read 1000 comments to find it)

    November 9th, 2012 10:06 pm Reply
  • Linda Zurich

    The products on that Maverick website look to be highly processed and ground into mush.

    Feeding domestic pets a diet of whole raw foods is much preferable and infinitely more natural and healthful than feeding them processed, mushy ground and/or cooked pet food products.

    For myth-busting information on the so-called bacterial ‘dangers’ of feeding pets raw, check out this article:


    Just out of curiosity, Karen, do you by any chance have a financial stake in the Maverick Pet Foods Company and/or Nature’s Kitchen Dog Food?

    November 9th, 2012 5:31 pm Reply
  • Karen

    I was introduced to Maverick Dog Food products. It is a new company in the United States. Its USDA Grade A (ONLY USA) products are catching on fast. There is no soy, wheat, corn, or perservatives of any sort in the food, NOT EVEN SALT. They flash freeze their products. Check out their website. Everything is listed. The factory is in South Florida. I have my 85 year old dad living with me so I don’t want Raw in the house at this time. They have a lightly cooked product called Nature’s Kitchen (A complete balanced meal.) Their Genesis Raw is also a complete meal. Their products are “spreading” across the U.S. into the natural dog food boutiques. My dogs don’t come up for air. Check them out.

    November 8th, 2012 10:57 pm Reply
    • Stephanie Sorensen

      Don’t you cook for yourself and possibly your father? What is the difference between the raw meat you cook for your human family and the raw you would give to your dog? Is it not brought into your house raw before you cook it?

      This is just out of curiosity – not trying to attack you in any way!

      November 9th, 2012 7:46 pm Reply
  • Mans best friend

    That is so wickedly disgusting. I knew that the stuff that they call “cat and dog food” was junk but I didnt know that it was absolutely horrific such as this. This is Soylent Green for dogs and cats!!!!!!!! Thank you for this article, I hope it will help more people to wake up.

    October 23rd, 2012 7:17 am Reply
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  • Laura W

    My problem is that I do rescue and raw food is so expensive. It’s either dry food or don’t save them. It’s try to stick with the better dry food, but it’s hard to know that I’m not doing the best I can for them.

    June 3rd, 2012 9:38 pm Reply
  • Mollie Morrissette

    Not news to me, but then that’s all I do is research and write about the pet food industry. Another great source for this kind of information is http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com by activist and advocate Susan Thixton.

    June 3rd, 2012 7:25 pm Reply
  • Linda

    What gets me is that for many many years I ‘bought’ into the whole dog food thing. UGH! I can’t believe it . And I am not a young person. I also used to buy into the ‘doctor’ thing too but no more! I wish I wouldn’t have wasted the years between …..But I feel like I am on the right track now thanks in most part to Sarah. She makes me think!!!!

    May 24th, 2012 12:36 pm Reply
    • Stephanie Sorensen

      That doesn’t matter, Linda. What matters is that you know now. You can’t beat yourself up over what you had no knowledge of before. Life is a path to wisdom. You will never be 100% wise; it is a process. Some people never gain access to the knowledge. The saddest are those who have access to it but choose to remain ignorant and continue on their narrow-minded, unenlightened path.

      May 24th, 2012 1:08 pm Reply
  • WB

    kinda stupid question: isn’t this really messy?

    I know that’s probably not a reason to keep feeding dry store bought food, but I just wonder how you cope with it. Do you only feed the dog outdoors?

    My lab drips water everywhere in the house already – I can only imagine what kind of mess she would make with meat and bone and organs.

    May 24th, 2012 10:51 am Reply
    • Gwen

      LOL! I think it’s an excellent question. Yes, it can get messy, but I feed my dogs outside except when the weather is bad. Then, I feed them in the shower. It only takes a minute to thoroughy clean the shower after they eat in there.

      May 24th, 2012 11:03 am Reply
    • Linda

      WB there are NO stupid questions !!!!

      May 24th, 2012 12:37 pm Reply
  • Kathy Hennessy via Facebook

    That stuff from the grocery store is, sadly, nasty. We buy http://www.naturesvariety.com/ Great stuff.

    May 24th, 2012 1:31 am Reply
  • Linda

    Don’t be afraid ! It’s natural! It’s how God intended dogs to eat. When I handed my Newfie his very first chicken leg and thigh I said outloud ….ok he’s gonna die! Guess what ? He is alive and wonderful and his coat is shiny and he is totally healthy! I feed other meats as well . All raw. And always raw fish and never cooked ….no cooked chicken bones ….just raw .! I had an old Keeshond that had one whole raw chicken every day from my poulty operation and she lived a long and very healthy life ! I wish I had more access to organ meats instead of only in the fall . I can have elk hearts and liver then ….but need more freezer space ! Also to hold my raw milk !

    May 23rd, 2012 8:15 pm Reply
    • Ginny

      Thanks Linda! So are there ANY rules about feeding bones besides that they should be raw? And fish bones won’t stick in his throat like they do mine?

      May 24th, 2012 9:54 pm Reply
      • Linda

        Ginny , no the fish bones won’t stick in your dogs throat! Just raw though ….never cooked. I can handle fish bones in my mouth either. Yesterday I went to our little deli and asked if they had any meat for my dog and they had a whole boxful. I was really happy about that and found along with the tallow that they trimmed was slices of raw salmon! It was like I was given such a wonderful gift ! I separate everything and put it into serving size bags (nice because my dog and I camp a lot) and put it in the freezer. Feeding raw is sooooo easy. So much easier! And sometimes Marley lets a piece of chicken lay for an entire day, I guess to ‘ripen’ then eats it. It reminds me of on the farm when our dogs would bring in a nice big ground hog and then let it get real ummmm well ripe is the only word I can think of and it smelled sooooo bad! But to them it was heavenly ! They used to bring them into the cow stable where I was milking and I used to have to put some kind of cream or bad balm or something under my nose …..it smelled sooooo bad. That’s like dogs like to roll in smells that to us are offensive…to them it’s devine! I love my critters!

        May 25th, 2012 5:55 am Reply
  • GinnY

    I’m feeding my dog Bravo because I have an irrational fear of him choking on bones including fish bones. Please talk me out of it!

    May 23rd, 2012 8:10 pm Reply
  • Linda

    Yes feed as close to nature as you can ! Just put down a handful of kibble and an oxtail or chicken back(raw if course) and see which one your dog will grab!!!! And I have a very large Newfie and it don’t take much raw food at all to keep him happy and satisfied . And much much less poop in the yard ! And I feel so good knowing he’s eating so good. I get a lot of free scraps and cheap chicken …..and also cheap oxtails. I just wish I lived near a butcher. But we do have moose and elk and mule deer in the fall . I was at a meat shop the other day searching for bargain and free meat and they told me a young lady with sled dogs comes in and get’s their older meat and scraps !

    May 23rd, 2012 5:05 pm Reply
  • Patricia

    I bought a grinder and supplements that are recommended and make my own cat food. The supplements aren’t optional, they must be added to the raw meat, bones, and organs that you grind up for the cats. I buy whole pastured Amish chicken that is antibiotic free. I buy ground up rabbit online. I have 3 cats, all healthy, playfull happy creatures. The money spent now will be saved in the future. NO VET BILLS for ailments from commercial food. I make enough to feed 3 cats for 2-3 weeks and store in freezer bags. When I go on vacation or away for a couple days, I get them commercial freeze dried raw food that can be left out just like kibble. It works for us. :) Check into this. Lots of good info online and some good books that you can get at the library as well. NO GRAINS and no fruit or veggies are needed for the cat food. You must use the organs and the supplements, however. Expensive start-up and a little work but I’d rather do this than the stress of a sick cat and a vet bill.

    May 23rd, 2012 2:51 pm Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      Please consider that the FORM of the food we feed our carnivorous pets is just as important as the kind of food we choose to feed them.

      And although feeding a homemade ground raw diet is definitely better than feeding commercial cooked/processed pet foods, the truth is that no adult carnivorous mammal on the planet was ever designed to eat a steady diet of mushy ground raw food.

      For this reason, and because feeding raw meaty bones (RMBs) and hunks of unground raw meat are so beneficial for a carnivore’s oral health, I advocate feeding our pets WHOLE raw foods – not porridge-like ground raw.

      For more information on this subject, please see this section of my website:


      May 23rd, 2012 4:57 pm Reply
      • Patricia

        In trying to keep my remark short I forgot to mention that I do give my cats “chunks” of raw meat mixed into the ground diet and I don’t grind it real fine. They are still changing over since I fed them the commercial frozen raw for about a year and gave them kibble whenever I was gone a couple of days. They started off leaving the ‘chunks’ in the bowl but are now eating those. I expect to be feeding whole prey style before the end of summer! I do grind up the turkey. Kinda big for cats! Thanks for pointing that out. I agree that our indoor pets should eat as they would in the wild. I will check out your links as well. Never too much information. It’s nice to see so many people feeding their pets this way. A co-worker is appauled by this. She said her dog got a raw chicken off the kitchen counter, she called the vet and he forced the dog to vomit. She thinks I am nuts because the vet told her the dog would get very very sick from eating raw meat and bones. I’ve forwarded her this email. Probably won’t help. The sick thing is, she shares everything she eats with that dog…including donuts. OMG!

        May 24th, 2012 10:17 am Reply
  • Lisa Griffiths via Facebook

    I have long called it Pedigree Scum. That’s all it is, and people still wonder why their pets get sick. Tragic.

    May 23rd, 2012 2:51 pm Reply
  • Jackie Leyba

    I’ve read all of the posts on here. I’ve never heard of this, but I’m willing to give it a try. I’ve noticed that a lot of you give your dogs chicken with the bones. I thought chicken bones were NOT good for dogs. Is it ok to give them raw chicken bones?

    May 23rd, 2012 10:45 am Reply
    • Stephanie Sorensen

      Hi Jackie,

      You’ve probably never heard of it because no one makes any money when you stop buying crap-in-a-bag and start feeding raw. In reality, raw feeding follows what dogs have been eating for thousands of years. Kibble has been around for less than 120 years. That is why I find it so funny when people will say that feeding raw is a “fad.”

      Cooked bones can splinter, causing intestinal perforations and blockages. Raw bones break down differently and pass easily through the system once they are crunched up by the dog’s teeth. Bones are a necessary part of the diet and should always be given raw and with some meat on the bone. The only bones you should not feed are the leg bones of large ungulates (cows, horses, elk, deer, moose, etc.). And if you have a gulper, make sure you give something large enough that the dog cannot swallow it in one bite. A large meaty bone will make them want to sit and chew. It is very satisfying to dogs to be able to do this, as it provides a great jaw workout and cleans their teeth too!

      Go to the website http://www.rawfed.com. It is a great website with a ton of good information to get you started.

      May 23rd, 2012 10:54 am Reply
      • Beth

        I’m glad Jackie responded to this point about bones because I just learned this fact too by reading a book on Homeopathy for animals. Dogs NEED to chew on bones because that’s where they naturally get the calcium they need for their own strong bones. This is why it’s common for many older dogs to have hip problems and be on medication. And raw chicken bones are not supposed to cause problems. I am always almost amused when people send up the red flags about food borne illnesses and raw food! First of all, there are thousands of cases every year in people and animals from all sources… it’s just that the raw food gets pointed out in the papers more than other recalled sources. Secondly, feeding an optimum healthy diet strengthens the immune system of people and pets so that if they are exposed to something like salmonella, they pass it and have no real harm done at all. We have e. coli living in our guts! I don’t think people get that. We’re so afraid of bacteria these days.

        May 23rd, 2012 11:22 am Reply
        • Jeanette

          If you watch a dog or cat that is fed outdoors they don’t leave their food in the bowl if it is whole. They drag it into the yard where it gets covered in grass & dirt and just keep happily munching away! LOL

          May 23rd, 2012 12:15 pm Reply
          • Stephanie Sorensen

            LOL, that drives my husband nuts! He cannot understand why, when we feed them on the back deck, they insist on dragging it out to the yard to happily crunch it down. My pit bull will eat it on the deck, usually, but the lab HAS to eat it in the dirt. When fed on the driveway, both of them go to the dirt.

            May 23rd, 2012 1:15 pm
      • Linda Zurich

        Amen, Stephanie! I couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

        May 23rd, 2012 4:42 pm Reply
      • Linda

        Can you tell me why you shouldn’t feed a dog the leg bones of a large ungulte? I give mine the hind leg bones of moose and they seem to get along fine with them. They just chew on them from time to time. I mean I still have the leg bone of a moose in my yard from a year ago. Marley just chews on it once in a while……I’m curious to know why he should not have them? Thanks ever so much! :)

        May 25th, 2012 5:47 am Reply
        • Stephanie Sorensen

          I guess I should have been more clear on that! The leg bones of large ungulates cannot be broken down and digested by our canine companions, so it should not be counted as part of their bone requirement in their diet. They can also break teeth on such a large, dense bone.

          That said, a large ungulate bone with a good amount of meat on it is fine for larger dogs to rip the meat off and gnaw on the bone somewhat while it is still fresh. Most people I know that feed such items will take the bone away once the meat is all off of it and the bone dries out to avoid the teeth breakage. I have even been known to give my two dogs a deer leg once in a while just for fun. I do take it away after a couple of days.

          Sorry for the confusion!

          May 25th, 2012 9:54 am Reply
          • Stephanie Sorensen

            I should add that if you notice the dog trying to actually crack the bone, it is time to take it away. They can not only break teeth, but break a jaw as well. Not worth it!

            May 25th, 2012 9:56 am
        • Linda Zurich

          Stephanie’s spot on again!


          The bigger, weight bearing bones (especially femurs) of large ungulates are so dense they’re actually harder than a dog’s teeth!

          Best to avoid the risk of tooth damage by not ever giving these large, hard, dense bones to your dog.

          May 25th, 2012 3:28 pm Reply
  • Mark Felton via Facebook

    I’ve fed my dog a raw, carnivorous diet for the past year and I’m never going back. Commercial dog food is junk.

    May 23rd, 2012 9:15 am Reply
  • Leah Johnson

    Thank you Sarah for doing this series! I used to spend a fortune on a premium brand of grain-free kibble (Evo) for my two Boston Terriers, but once we started eating real food, I began to wonder what the truly ideal diet for my pups was. I discovered Tom Lonsdale’s books on feeding raw meaty bones, and it made SO much sense! Thankfully they are still young and not much damage was done yet by the kibble…they turn 3 in a few days and have been eating raw for about 7 or 8 months now. I never have to brush their teeth anymore and they are in such vibrant health. I hope they stay this way and don’t suffer years of slow degeneration of health once they get older. They absolutely love dinner time! About once a month we go to the supermarket and load up on whole chickens and roasts. Then we come home and cut everything into single serve hunks and freeze in ziplock plastic containers. At dinner time I send them to their crate and throw them a chunk of roast or half a chicken back each or a chicken thigh/leg each or whatever it is. They LOVE eating whereas before they just munched on brown rocks with no enthusiasm whatsoever. I wish I could feed them pastured/grass-fed, but they eat more meat than me and my hubby and it would be absolutely cost prohibitive. I can get ground up grass-fed organs from my beef farmer for $4 a pound so I like to freeze this in chunks and give to them as treats. But I grew up on supermarket meat and while it’s not ideal, it’s the best I can do and FAR better than even the best brand of kibble…oh and the price difference is negligible since we spent so much on the Evo kibble to begin with. Just thought I’d share my experience. At the time I switched them, I couldn’t find an real food bloggers who endorsed Tom Lonsdales methods, but I just knew in my heart it was the best thing.

    May 23rd, 2012 2:17 am Reply
  • Ashley

    Switched to raw almost 2 years ago, 3 dogs and 4 cats. Will never EVER feed kibble or canned again.

    May 23rd, 2012 12:43 am Reply
    • Patricia

      I agree! I switched to the commercial raw and recently bought a grinder to make everything myself. I was happy to find raw freeze dried for the weekend I am out of town. There is NO kibble in my house and never will be again. 3 very happy cats!

      May 23rd, 2012 2:55 pm Reply
  • Lina

    From my own experience I could definitely say, that raw meat diet for cats is the only way to go. Even though i don’t have cat, but I used to work for a lady who had few of them. For many years she fed her cats with store bought caned stuff. Even though she tried to buy just very specific brands who claimed to be better in nutrition, few of her cats were still overweight with grease coats, dandruff. Then one day in one of the cat trade shows she met people from Wysong company (they are big advocates for the raw meet diet). Next day she made a switch. Her choice was raw ground turkey breast with supplements (from Wysong company). It didn’t take a long time to see drastic change in cats: they lost weight, coats looked wonderful and they had more energy.
    I know that for us raw meat might seam disgusting, but when you think about it, not that long ago the main diet for cats was small rodents and occasional bird.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:33 pm Reply
  • Angela Marie via Facebook

    I never thought about this before. We just got a kitten a month ago. Thanks for posting!

    May 22nd, 2012 10:02 pm Reply
  • Julie Smith

    Of all the things on the list of what goes into this toxic petfood, ironically, I found the roadkill to be the least offensive. It’s the only thing on the list that’s chemical free! And it’s organic too! Well, as long as the animal didn’t get into GMO corn field before it was killed, or got infected in some other way by industrial agri-business. I was completely shocked to read about the flea collars, the Styrofoam packaging and plastic wrappers.

    May 22nd, 2012 8:47 pm Reply
  • Rene Whitehurst via Facebook

    Anna, Dr Becker is the DVM associated with Dr Mercola and wrote the book I mentioned above.

    May 22nd, 2012 8:33 pm Reply
  • Anna Horan via Facebook

    Dr. Mercola has a veterinarian associated with his site that is very knowledgeable about what nutrient balance different animals need and has formulas to make sure there is nothing missing.

    May 22nd, 2012 5:36 pm Reply
  • leslie

    I just read an article about this same thing at dr. mercolas site. he has dr.becker research all the info on pet care and she was also saying that if people decide to feed the fresh food it has to be in the right porportions for proper nutrition or it’s just as bad as feeding them the kibble. You know they spray thte kibble with abeef and fat flavored glycol so the pets will eat it, horrible!

    May 22nd, 2012 3:40 pm Reply
  • Stephanie

    I love that you have delved into the pet food realm. I am actually the opposite of most of your readers…I still have a lot to learn regarding cooking for myself, but my dogs have been on a raw diet for almost six years now, and I too will never feed anything else. They get beef and lamb mostly, but also pork, chicken, turkey, and venison when I can get some (and organ meats as well). They are the healthiest dogs I’ve ever had – shiny coats, clean teeth, vibrant energy, no physical ailments.

    I am also very happy Linda has done her research and arrived at the conclusion that dogs are carnivores. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a vet say that dogs are omnivores!! Unfortunately, most of them believe what they have been told by the dog food reps that come to their school to give seminars about the “wholesome nutrition” in their foods. Sorry, but that is just not true. Our dogs’ own anatomy and physiology provides more than enough evidence of their carnivorous nature.

    Ever since that first pet food recall several years ago, I decided that I was done with crap-in-a-bag!

    May 22nd, 2012 2:59 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Teeth tell the tale .. just take a look at a dog’s teeth and it is obvious they are carnivores just like you can take a look at a human’s teeth and it is obvious they are omnivores .. not herbivores like vegans insist upon!

      May 22nd, 2012 3:37 pm Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        A number of folks discover the principles of traditional eating for themselves via the doggie door interestingly enough :)

        May 22nd, 2012 9:37 pm Reply
        • Linda

          This IS how i came about eating a plain simple way of eating for myself. I started my dogs on Blue Buffalo , then Taste of the Wild …..thinking all that was good. Then I started myself on whole good foods and then my dogs on completely raw! It was such a ‘duh’ time. Something i was making soooo hard is so easy to do!

          June 4th, 2012 9:40 am Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie!

      Good for you, and good for your dogs!

      Yes, you’re spot on in saying that the truth is that anatomically as well as physiologically speaking – on the inside of their bodies – domestic dogs are essentially the same as grey wolves, which are the species of animal from which all dogs are descended.

      And the primary and preferred prey of grey wolves are large ungulates. In other words, both dogs and wolves were made to consume primarily the raw meat, raw meaty bones and raw organs of plant eating grazing animals.

      This is due in a big way, as Sarah rightly points out, to their dentition, but it’s also very much because of their digestive anatomy and processes, which are clearly those of a carnivore.

      Here’s a link to an excellent article explaining why dogs are considered to be very adaptable, and are really more opportunistic carnivores, rather than being omnivores:


      May 23rd, 2012 1:29 pm Reply
      • Stephanie Sorensen

        Thanks, Linda! I am a wildlife biologist by training/education, so feeding our domesticated carnivores raw has made perfect sense to me ever since I decided to do it. I am passionate about evolutionary biology, and to those that use the few thousand years of domestication as evidence of omnivory (saying we made them omnivores through our domestication of them); I hate to break it to you, but that is not enough time from an evolutionary standpoint to evolve such a drastic change in a species that is so closely related to the gray wolf that the domestic dog is a subspecies of the wolf. That means that they are essentially the same species. Therefore, their anatomy and physiology are still the same (despite the many differences in size and morphology), as are their dietary requirements.

        Sorry to write a novel here, but I am obviously passionate about dogs! :-)

        May 23rd, 2012 1:39 pm Reply
        • Linda Zurich

          Again, this is some really key information you’ve written here, Stephanie,. Thank you for pointing this out!

          Despite their external variations in terms of superficial differences in things like their size, coloring, coat texture, ear shape etc, on the inside, dogs and wolves are essentially the same animal, just as you say.

          Just to back up this up, it’s helpful to see the official scientific classifications of wild gray wolves and domesticated dogs:

          Gray wolves are classified as Canis lupus.

          ALL domestic dogs – whether they be tiny Chihuahuas or massive Mastiffs – are classified as Canis lupus familiarus.

          Although different breeds of dog may vary in their external appearance, they’re really all the same species, which is a subspecies of the gray wolf.

          Thank you so much for sharing your professional expertise on this subject with us here!

          May 23rd, 2012 4:36 pm Reply
        • nano

          I tried raw and my dogs did not do so well. The smallest one got sick. Of course the vet said not all dogs can handle it. I have a Chisit and a pompoo. I would like to try again maybe with just beef . I do cook for them, either beef or chicken, some brown rice or oatmeal and vegetables like brocoli, peas, carrots and some unsweetened applesauce. I do make it cut up pretty small becuase the little one chokes easily. I give them the doggie bones for teeth, and I know that is not the best. I do use some of those soup bones, but now cook them first. I wish I could just feed raw, sounds much easier than all the cutting up I do.

          May 23rd, 2012 7:38 pm Reply
  • Jen

    I thought that was the nastiest and most repulsive information in the post as well!

    May 22nd, 2012 1:58 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      The Matrix is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. Definitely top three.

      May 22nd, 2012 3:18 pm Reply
      • jason and lisa


        -jason and lisa-

        May 22nd, 2012 7:58 pm Reply
  • Rene Whitehurst via Facebook

    I guess I should mention the canned food we decided to use is Natural Balance (recommended by Dr Becker if you feel the need to feed commercial food) limited ingredient diet food. The ingredients look good and we are having allergy issues with chicken and potatoes so really need to watch ingredients. my 8.5 year old Rhodesian ridgeback is looking and feeling better since removing raw chicken from her diet.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:48 pm Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      The Natural Balance website has ingredients listed for all its canned dog foods, many of which contain starchy, carb-laden, cheap filler plant based ingredients like oat bran, brown rice, potato starch and potatoes. These are listed among the first 7-8 ingredients on many of these products. However unfortunately, they’re far from ideal dietary choices for carnivorous canines.

      Since dogs are essentially grey wolves, which are animals that evolved to thrive on the consumption of large ungulates, many dogs do better being fed raw red meat/meaty bones like beef, venison, elk, and lamb etc than they do on raw diets relying heavily on fowl.

      Another consideration is that some conventional chicken is “enhanced,” meaning it’s injected with an artificial solution consisting of saline and other questionable chemicals that can be problematical for many dogs when they consume it.

      May 23rd, 2012 4:19 pm Reply
  • Sharon Cummings via Facebook

    Our vet recommended raw meat from beef and chicken, bones, fish and organs. Once we switched to raw food, our dogs no longer shed year round just a week or two spring and fall. They have healthy teeth, gums, coats, weight and they seem very content.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:45 pm Reply
    • Gwen

      Wow! Your vet recommended? Hang on to that vet! One of the many great benefits is the reduced amount of shedding.

      May 24th, 2012 12:08 pm Reply
  • Holly Morrison via Facebook

    We get a grain free totally natural food for feline and dogs from a line called TASTE OF THE WILD….awesome stuff. reasonable price too. our local feed store carries it. dogfood is made with bison and salmon, catfood salmon…both with what those animals could eat in nature. animals love it.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:40 pm Reply
    • Ashley

      TOTW has been involved with the giant diamond food recall recently… i wouldn’t trust it!!

      May 23rd, 2012 12:46 am Reply
  • Rene Whitehurst via Facebook

    An improperly balanced raw diet can be worse than a commercial food diet. Check out “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats” by Dr Becker, DVM. I fed raw for approx 7 years and have recently switched to canned until I can get back to feeding raw again. I definitely don’t like dry.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:40 pm Reply
  • Judith Sookne via Facebook

    A raw, balanced diet can be much cheaper than the processed stuff. And if you are worried about salmonella, just research all the recalls that have taken place, and are still taking place, in recent years. Processed pet food has killed many pets! There is a recall right no on kibble made by Diamond Brands, because it can make humans sick from salmonella. No thanks! I feed mostly grocery store meats, except for occasional deer in season, and get them on sale. More affordable than “natural” kibble. You don’t need to be a nutritionist. Just get the guidelines at the Yahoo group I mentioned. It keeps my dogs going into very old age.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:33 pm Reply
  • Beth

    This is timely as just last week we were at the vet for a yearly checkup for my dog and I got into a discussion about food with my vet (who of course sell’s Hills). We had been doing a dry grain-free dogfood with some of our meat thrown in there too. She said that dogs did eat grains in the wild because they eat the intestines of small animals. While the part about the intestines is true, many small herbivores will have more vegetation biproducts in their intestines than grains, and definitely not processed grains! Not only that, but the food in the intestines has been through the digestion process. Plus, the wild dog would be eating organ meats and muscle meat, and chewing on bones for calcium. After that I came home and found Darwin’s Naturals, raw pet food shipped to your doorstep (frozen), and ordered some. My dog loves it (she thinks she is getting people food) and I know that it’s the best choice I can do for her without having to make up food myself which is pretty labor intensive and I have kids to feed first! I was upset when my vet recommended Hills but then realized that I deal with this all the time whenever we need to see the doctor– you just have to be smart and stand by what you know to be truly healthy.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:33 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    So happy to see the topic of pet food discussed here! I’ve always wondered why an ingredient like corn or soy would be present in the dry food I buy for my 4 cats since he’s a carnivore.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:27 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      They include this stuff because it’s cheap, cheap, cheap and gives the pet food companies profits, profits, and more profits.

      May 22nd, 2012 9:38 pm Reply
      • Linda Zurich

        You said it, Sarah!!

        Most all of the corn and soy grown these days are absurdly cheap INDUSTRIAL COMMODITIES which are often genetically modified and highly processed, not to mention being contaminated with toxic petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers.

        The vast majority of this stuff can’t even be considered to be real food anymore!

        And yet unfortunately, millions of pets the world over eat pet foods laden with this low quality garbage every day.

        May 23rd, 2012 3:31 pm Reply
  • Tiffany L. Workman via Facebook

    i agree, tiffani. we switched to a holistic vet who supported our decisions just for because our old vet had no idea of what to feed an animal when it came to a raw diet. it’s just like how allopaths that treat humans have no idea about anything when it comes to naturopathic medicine.

    May 22nd, 2012 1:27 pm Reply
  • jason and lisa

    our weenie dog eats raw chicken wings and gets a cup of fermented milk as a snack each day (loves it).. took him to the vet one time and everyone was commenting on how pretty his coat was and how healthy he looked.. so i spilled the beans on his secret and then everyone turned on us and told us all of the dangers and how they have never heard of this before.. so..

    -jason and lisa-

    May 22nd, 2012 1:12 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Oh, a weenie dog!! I used to have one years ago. His name was Sausalito (the town right near San Fran). Great name for a weenie don’t you think?

      May 22nd, 2012 9:39 pm Reply
  • Seariu

    Great article! A little off topic, when I first learned about ‘pink slime’ my first thought was “I thought that was for dog food”. I wonder if over the years the dog food makers have cut in more corn/soy and cut out more ‘pink slime’ ingredients to ‘bulk’ up human food? Definitely gross no matter how you look at it.

    May 22nd, 2012 12:51 pm Reply
  • Jackie Leyba

    OK…so do I just feed my dog raw meat or do I cook it first? I have a puppy who is about 3 months old. How would I feed her? As for eggs, they can eat them raw?

    May 22nd, 2012 12:48 pm Reply
    • Rashell

      Yes! Just feed her raw meat, bones, and organs:) Just Google BARF diet. My puppy thrived on it. He is 4 now and is the picture of health!

      May 22nd, 2012 4:11 pm Reply
    • Jeanette

      I’m currently raising a large breed puppy – in the morning she gets a chicken/thigh leg quarter; in the evening she gets another one; always has access to water. That is how simple feeding a dog can be! Variety – yes, it would be great but I can hardly justify the cost of beef & pork for my family so my dogs & cats usually get chicken – not cooked, not ground, just whole chicken pieces.
      I have raised a pregnant dog on raw; her entire litter on raw and just raised my first litter of kittens on raw chicken. The kittens are about 10 weeks old and they Demolish their chicken – bones & all! A tiny chihuahua puppy can & will eat a piece of chicken – bone & all. Has your baby puppy ever bit you while playing? Those little teeth are sharp! They were meant to be able to eat raw meat And bones.
      Most dogs love eggs! Some do prefer them lightly cooked unless it is mixed up with something else. My first Chihuahua loved fruit & veggies! Her absolute hands down favorite was warm baby lima beans. She would not leave us alone with ours until she got her spoonful. LOL Feeding raw is EASY – just do it!

      May 22nd, 2012 10:07 pm Reply
      • GWen

        Jeanette is right. Raw feeding is easy! My dogs love eggs, too, and I do feed eggs to them on occasion, but I give them the whole egg in the shell. It’s entertainment – watching them crack (and eat) the shell to get to the egg inside.

        May 22nd, 2012 11:27 pm Reply
      • Ashley

        make sure you are also feeding organ meat (spleen/kidney/liver), raw fish is great(I feed raw whole sardines), tripe(not canned if possible, real green raw tripe), heart is great. They can’t eat JUST chicken.

        May 23rd, 2012 12:49 am Reply
        • Gwen

          Ashley, true. My dogs eat a variety of meats, not just chicken, but chicken quarters are a good starting point. Haven’t tried sardines, but that’s a great suggestion. I haven’t been able to find unbleached tripe in my area.

          May 23rd, 2012 11:39 am Reply
  • Jim McDonald

    this sort of reminded me of the ‘real lemon’ juice sold in the grocery stores in those plastic lemon shaped containers..full of man made chemicals.I looked up several of the ingredients and one is used for tree stump removal.It dissolves the tree stump after the tree is cut down.

    May 22nd, 2012 12:47 pm Reply
  • Tiffani Beckman via Facebook

    It’s time to reclaim our INTELLIGENCE from those who tell us we don’t know what to do. Yes, we DO! : )

    May 22nd, 2012 12:40 pm Reply
  • Tiffani Beckman via Facebook

    I feed my dogs all raw all the time (and have for over 15 years)! Vets and the industry like to tell you that you are not smart enough to feed a dog or cat….but that’s pure bullsh*t! You are smart enough to feed you, your family, your kids….why would a dog be harder?

    May 22nd, 2012 12:39 pm Reply
  • CarolLynn Smith via Facebook

    Well YES I do, it may not sound pretty but the dry food is balanced with vitamins and minerals, I personally would not like it but dogs and cats eat a lot of stuff I would not. UNLESS you are a nutrition expert its the best option, buying holistic may sound good but the stuff goes bad quicker without the preservatives, and the Raw diet can cause Salmonella to your pets so unless you are preparing the stuff and know what they require in their diet you will be creating problems for your pet. MY opinion, since the pet food industry does have a very large budget for R&D.

    May 22nd, 2012 12:30 pm Reply
    • Marianne

      considering what wild canids eat, or try to, salmonella is not the worst thing. Dogs have short gastric routes and a quick vomit reflex, so that what goes in bad either comes back up before it is digested, or goes out quick. Note that the Diamond recall is concerned that several HUMANS have gotten salmonella poisoning from handling bad kibble, but not they dogs they fed.

      May 22nd, 2012 6:15 pm Reply
    • Ashley

      i do NOT trust kibble at all! I have fed raw for 2 years. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure it out. It takes alot of common sense, which many people apparenlty don’t have.

      May 23rd, 2012 12:52 am Reply
    • Connie

      any meat can cause salmonella.. just look at the current Diamond food recall


      Don’t think because you feed a commercial holistic food that it is always 100% safe all the time. And pet food R&D developed all of the species inappropriate foods you find in your local stores..

      May 23rd, 2012 9:30 am Reply
      • PAUX

        It isn’t an issue of raw meat, it is the issue of the fillers in the processed food that takes a longer time to digest, this is what causes the problems with our pets. They have a short digestive track and can deal with raw, it is digested faster and does not sit in their digestive track like the processed foods do. They also get all the nutrients from this food without the added suplements and additives from China.

        June 4th, 2012 7:32 am Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      While it may appear to the public that the pet food industry’s R&D is geared toward the best interests of our pets and feeding them the most nourishing food possible, I’ll make the bold assertion here that the vast majority of these companies’ financial R&D resources are instead directed toward increasing their profit margins!!

      As others have explained here, carnivores’ bodies are specifically designed to cope with the bacteria found on raw food. For instance they have very acidic stomachs, short digestive tracts, and very quick digestive transit times. These anatomical and physiological aspects of carnivores make their bodies especially capable of handling much higher bacterial loads in their food, and minimize the risk of potentially harmful pathogenic microbial colonization.

      Here’s a great article debunking the myth that bacteria like salmonella found in raw food is harmful to our pets:


      May 23rd, 2012 3:21 pm Reply
  • Lori Hora

    Hi Sarah – I commented the last time that you discussed the subject of pet food. While feeding raw may not be for everyone, I will not ever do anything else. It took my current vet about 5 years to accept that feeding your pets this way is safe. My bullmastiff is going to be 11 yrs. old this year and has made it through 3 major surgeries in good stead. Right now he is going to an underwater treadmill where is walks and swims. This has helped him recover from ACL surgery. And the swimming has taught him to swim in our pool with a lifejacket as bullys do not swim. He is in great condition and we attribute this to eating well. Thanks Sarah for your blog!

    May 22nd, 2012 12:15 pm Reply
  • Trisha

    “driving home the point of how much our pets absolutely love and crave the taste of them”
    In the same way we love and crave the taste of chips and candy bars.

    Ironically of all the “stuff” they put in pet food, the road kill is the least offensive. However it wouldn’t be the fresh road kill (dear generally) that can be had locally to feed our raw fed pets.

    Another great article! Thanks Linda and Sarah!

    May 22nd, 2012 11:58 am Reply
  • Tina

    I love that you are sharing about this. I would love more information like recipes and links to raw food diets for dogs and cats. Thanks for the valuable information.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:45 am Reply
  • Tiffany L. Workman via Facebook

    as for dry animal food, what animals in the wild eat dehydrated or cooked food?! none! there is just no way that even blue buffalo brand pet foods is good for our animals. yes, it may be better than other dry foods, but it still is *dry* food.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:37 am Reply
  • Sybil Strawser via Facebook

    nope…I think it’s as bad or worse than people processed fake food.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:34 am Reply
  • Tiffany L. Workman via Facebook

    we feed a raw diet, too with all of the animal products from pastured animals. it is wildly expensive for my husband and i (i am a bartender and he works at a bicycle shop) but we make it work. we love our dog so much!!

    May 22nd, 2012 11:33 am Reply
  • Marcia Galbreath via Facebook

    Wish I could AFFORD to make homemade food for all our pets!!

    May 22nd, 2012 11:24 am Reply
    • Jeanette

      Look at whatever pet food you buy on a pound for dollar ratio just like you do the meat that you buy for your family. Sometimes the meat is a little higher BUT you have to factor in vet bills, skin issues (even if you treat them yourself) and so forth.
      We buy the cheapest meat/chicken that is out there and while I wish I could afford better quality for my pets I figure the junkiest store bought chicken is still better than any dry pet food. Junky chicken is still considered “live” food and ALL commercial pet food is “dead”. The best way to feed any dog or cat is open a bag of chicken, package of meaty bones, etc. and give them to your pet. No cooking, no clean-up, few if any vet bills = cheaper, healthier and easiest!

      May 22nd, 2012 9:49 pm Reply
      • Linda

        Ohhhh Jeanette , I so agree with your post. I can’t always get the best grain fed pastured meats either so I get the junky store brand but it’s way better than the so called dog food! And my vets small lobby is stocked with Science Diet too…….ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

        May 24th, 2012 11:42 am Reply
    • Ashley

      I have spent about $300 LESS so far this year on raw, than if i still fed kibble/canned. I have 3 dogs and 4 cats. It does NOT have to be so expensive! Buy in bulk. I get alot of free wild meat, geese, duck, deer, moose, elk. Free organs from butchers/farmers. Cheap beef heart from a butcher, chicken quarters by the case ($1.27/pound), chicken backs by the case, whole turkeys at 88cents/lb around xmas/thanksgiving/easter…. you learn how to source and find good deals. I get free meat from people cleaning out their freezers often. Bags of whole raw sardines($4 for about 8 or 9 in a bag). Make connections. I get tons of meaty moose/deer/elk bones at hunting season for free. Healthier, no vet bills… it’s so worth it! (I have 4 freezers for their food too lol)

      May 23rd, 2012 12:57 am Reply
      • anita

        i get all my sisters frozen food too and cook it up for the dog food….it’s not raw…but i add extra things like eggs chondriton for joints and flax ect…..then i can divide it into smaller portions to feed them! :)

        February 11th, 2013 1:58 am Reply
  • Jackie Leyba

    I would love to know where I can get wholesome dog food. We have 2 dogs. Another poster had a great idea!! I would LOVE to see some dog food recipes!! Plus if it saves money that’s great too!!

    May 22nd, 2012 11:22 am Reply
    • Trisha

      At the meat counter. They just need raw meaty bones and organs.

      May 22nd, 2012 12:17 pm Reply
    • Linda

      There are no dog food ‘recipes’. Just plain old raw meat and bones . No cooking no adding ….wolves don’t get added anything ….nothing for the teeth….just good old bones with marrow and organ meats. It’s really so simple. I feed outside but if the weather was bad (there is no BAD weather to a Newfie) I’d simply feed on the kitchen floor and clean up after . It’s not a problem at all . Or put down a piece of plastic or something. It doesn’t take a dog long to eat a piece of raw meat , that’s for sure !

      May 24th, 2012 11:40 am Reply
  • Gwen

    So glad to ‘see’ you again, LInda! I commented on your last post that my dogs have been eating the Raw Meaty Bones (RMB) diet since 2008. Miraculous, this diet has been for my canine companions. We switched to RMB because one of my dogs had horrible skin rashes and bloody sores, and everything the vet did failed. In fact, it was changing my dogs’ food that led me (and my husband, and of late, more family members) to radically re-vamp our diets, too. Today, I consider myself to be educated about the sad state of the pet food industry, and have seen first-hand what I refer to as the Hill’s Science Diet “branding/brainwashing” of our country’s future veterinarians (I work in higher ed – the vet tech program is now defunct, but before that, the Hill’s brand was on everything, in everything, related to the program). Even so, I learned new and shocking things from your post.

    One thing I didn’t share before was that my husband and I were going through some severe financial difficulties (we’re past this! grateful!) when we switched our dogs to RMB, but we were determined. I stopped by the meat dept every time I shopped at our local grocery store to visit with the butcher. My husband visited wild game processors in the area, and called frequently. These visits paid off in deals on meat. And I stocked up the best I could every time I could (sales, etc.). We didn’t have much freezer space back then, so I was always on the lookout. It wasn’t easy, and there were times that I wanted to give up, but I’m glad we stuck it out. There is hardly a day that goes by that my husband and I don’t comment on the health, vitality, and beauty of our dogs: 14 year old Pepper (lab/heeler mix rescue), 8 year old Roxie (pit bull), and approx. 5 year old LD (short for Little Dog, a cairn terrier, we think – a street rescue). Roxie’s rashes and skin problems are gone. Pepper’s “mushy” muscle tone and joint pain has been replaced with shapely, sleek, muscular beauty and the agility of a much younger dog. And LD has the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen on any dog.

    By the way, the only local canine vet wildly disagrees with feeding dogs this way. (Her small lobby is full of Hill’s products.) There is one other couple in the small town where I live who feed RMB, too, but I think we’re it for now. Thanks for your commitment to getting this information out there. Thank you, too, Sarah! Knowledge really is power. Sorry for the long comment, but I’m passionate about this.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:21 am Reply
  • Mati Senerchia via Facebook

    We feed raw meat, organ and bone, too, after our first dog died of cancer (and *that’s* when they finally admit corn is bad for carnivores and start pushing wildly expensive canned meat-based food). We rotate the type of food at a feeding rather than grind it all together.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:21 am Reply
  • Amanda Nichole Dittlinger via Facebook

    I’m not sure I really want to know. Is this one of those, once you read it, it can’t be unheard? Sigh… sometimes ignorance really is blissful.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:16 am Reply
  • Missy Tyson via Facebook


    May 22nd, 2012 11:16 am Reply
  • Caroline Riffle Rollinson via Facebook

    grass fed raw diet, http://www.hare-today.com

    May 22nd, 2012 11:04 am Reply
  • Judith Sookne via Facebook

    Robin Adler, you can join the Rawfeeding yahoo group and make sure your dog is getting all the required nutrients. i’ve fed that style of raw food for 11 years. my large dog is now 17, and the vet feels it’s amazing she has done so well for so long. i credit the diet.

    May 22nd, 2012 11:01 am Reply
  • Judith Sookne via Facebook

    jess young, your cat needs variety and balance. please join the Rawfeeding or Rawcat Yahoo groups to learn about balance. There is a formula for feeding raw, based on what canids and cats eat in the wild. For instance, a certain amount of liver is essential.

    May 22nd, 2012 10:59 am Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      Thank you Judith!

      I completely agree with what you say, and wholeheartedly recommend the Rawfeeding and RawCat yahoogroups to anyone and everyone who’s interested in learning how and why to feed their pets a prey model diet of whole raw foods.

      May 23rd, 2012 2:05 pm Reply
  • Annia Cieslewicz Tupin via Facebook

    My husband works for a major pet food industry. You think feeding our pets this crap is bad? The workers arent safe either. Those that spent their entire lives around the bad ingredients, breathing in the chemicals on a daily basis, suffer from health problems, usually cancers and die shortly after they retire. The money might be good, but really? They do not need to put these chemicals in the food!

    May 22nd, 2012 10:57 am Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      Wow! This is disturbing to hear, but not terribly surprising…

      Thank you for sharing this, Annia!

      May 23rd, 2012 2:03 pm Reply
  • Jess Young via Facebook

    We used to give the cat some “natural” food from a bag, but found once we moved over to straight chicken for kitty-health, that it was cheaper than basically any of the bagged cat food we could find. :)

    May 22nd, 2012 10:56 am Reply
  • Jess Young via Facebook

    We used to give the cat some “natural” food from a bag, but found once we moved over to straight chicken for kitty-health, that it was cheaper than basically any of the bagged cat food we could find. :)

    May 22nd, 2012 10:56 am Reply
  • Jamie

    I am so glad to see this topic! I remember being appalled while teaching ServSafe food safety classes to find out that meat that gets recalled due to e.coli, salmonella and other foodborne toxins almost always gets recycled into pet food!

    It’s also been a cycle of frustration here in recent years as my dog has gotten food poisoning twice from a “clean” brand of dog food, and refuses to eat the “good stuff” like Blue Buffalo until he’s literally starving. I am so glad to have found the resources listed here and look forward to making some changes!

    May 22nd, 2012 10:54 am Reply
  • Howard C. Gray via Facebook

    I’m continually appalled at the ingredients in cat food. The beast is a carnivore. When was the last time you saw a cat digging up a carrot. Raw meat baby. Someday I’d like to see canned mouse, rat or bird.

    May 22nd, 2012 10:52 am Reply
  • Pagan Overton via Facebook

    We feed our dogs Blue Buffalo (Lamb and brown rice is their fav), it is corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavor and preservative free and no meat by-products. We feed our cats Acana (Grasslands/Lamb if their fav). It is made with always fresh, locally sourced meats and veggies. Grain/gluten/corn/soy and preservative free. The quality is so high it is even safe for human consumption. We have gluten/grain sensitive dogs and cats and have been very happy with these brands in solving our scratching/biting and tummy issues for them.

    May 22nd, 2012 10:51 am Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      I’d like to point out here that many of these types of ‘grain free’ pet foods – which are not only commercially manufactured and highly processed, but also cooked – often contain a number of very starchy plant based ingredients that are used as filler.

      Such carb-laden plant based ingredients can include things like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, pumpkin, carrots and apples etc. Unfortunately, the bodies of carnivores, particularly obligate carnivores like cats, were never designed to consume such starchy plant foods in any appreciable amounts.

      Because dogs and cats are carnivorous animals that Nature designed to thrive primarily on the raw meat, bones and organs that make up the bodies of prey animals, feeding our pets a steady diet of starchy cooked plant foods has the potential to be problematical for their health, especially when fed in quantity over the long term.

      May 23rd, 2012 2:01 pm Reply
  • Nancy

    I love this! Sarah I don’t know if you have any pets but I was wondering if you would consider doing a recipe for dog and cat food!! I love so many of your recipes for humans! I’m sure you could come up with a good recipe for pet food! Thanks for all your hard work in teaching us how to nourish our bodies!

    May 22nd, 2012 10:50 am Reply
    • Magda

      There really are no recipes for pet food, as the food should be minimally processed, if it all. Dogs and cats are carnivores so all they require are meat and bones plus organs. Some people also feed eggs, raw dairy, table scraps, etc. To keep their teeth shiny dogs and cats need to tear into their food so anything processed (such as ground meat-based products) do not do much good at all. Keep it simple: plenty of meat on the bone, some boneless meals, organs and small amounts of ‘other’ food. I like Tom Lonsdale’s idea of a ‘prey model’: keep it as close to the whole animal as possible, so less than 10% bones, few organs, mostly meat, etc.

      May 22nd, 2012 11:38 am Reply
      • Linda Zurich

        Thank you for this reply, Magda!

        I’m in total agreement with everything you say, especially about the recommendation of feeding a raw prey model diet, as this is precisely what I advocate for both cats and dogs.

        The form of the food we feed our carnivores is paramount, and whole, wholesome foods, minimally processed are best for our pets – just as they are for us!

        May 23rd, 2012 1:43 pm Reply
  • Rayhana Umm Ayman via Facebook

    i was shocked to see MSG in fish fry food!

    May 22nd, 2012 10:49 am Reply
  • Candi Fields Scott via Facebook

    No thanks! Raw meat!!

    May 22nd, 2012 10:48 am Reply
    • Linda

      Yes just raw meat for my Newfie! He is gorgeous and shiny!

      May 23rd, 2012 3:17 pm Reply
  • Terri V.

    I read about this kind of thing a while back when researching my rescue cat’s diabetes. We switched her to Wellness brand grain-free turkey (wet) and she has now been diabetes free for a number of years. Are brands like this ok?

    May 22nd, 2012 10:44 am Reply
  • Robin Adler via Facebook

    I used to feed my dog Blue Buffalo Grain-free, and she started turning her nose up at the food. But then I noticed her belly looking bloated. I switched her to a raw diet of beef, mixed with assorted fruits and vegetables and she loves it. I just hope she’s getting the vitamins and minerals she needs.

    May 22nd, 2012 10:43 am Reply
    • Ashley

      Just make sure you are also feeding organs too. spleen, liver, kidney. Heart is good. raw fish, tripe, raw eggs

      May 23rd, 2012 1:01 am Reply
  • Andrea Marie Siple via Facebook

    Viand from PHD Products is a great holistic dog food.

    May 22nd, 2012 10:43 am Reply
  • Mariah


    I feed my dog a grain free, salmon and sweet potato formula. The only two ingredients are salmon and sweet potato along with veggies. I also put cod liver across the top of his food. My kittens are on a three fish diet with no grain. We grow grass for their digestion.

    All of the food you have pictured is the junk grain based stuff… is my food okay? If we really don’t want to change over to a raw diet.

    May 22nd, 2012 10:19 am Reply
    • Susan

      Mariah- I certainly can’t speak as to the quality of your pet food, but I can share with you what I learned when I started investigating packaged pet food. Pet food makers only have to list what they added to the product in their warehouse. So if they purchased any ingredients from another source that have been sprayed with chemicals, etc, they don’t have to list those chemicals because they didn’t add it in their factory. A good example of this is fish meal. By law it has to be sprayed with a certain chemical that is known to cause cancer (Sorry, can’t remember the name of the chemical). They ship it off to be put in pet food and none of us will know the fish meal has been sprayed with it because they don’t have to list it int he ingredients since the pet food maker didn’t put it in there to begin with.

      From the moment I read that I never bought any packaged food again because we consumers have no way of ever really truly knowing what is in there. I’ve been making my dog’s food since. They are so shiny that when we take them for walks people will always comment on their coats because they are so shiny. They ask us what shampoo it is that makes them so shiny. We tell them its their diet, not the shampoo. They also, at age 5 and 4, still have white shiny teeth. There eyes glisten and they are super healthy. I will never go back to packaged food for them again.

      May 22nd, 2012 10:45 am Reply
    • Teresa

      What food is this that only has these ingredients? Would love to get it?

      May 22nd, 2012 10:46 am Reply
      • Mariah

        Matural balance hypo allergenic , salmon and sweet potato grain free

        May 22nd, 2012 12:53 pm Reply
    • Linda Zurich

      Mariah contacted me privately offlist, and I feel that my response to her would be of benefit to all, so I’m posting it here:

      The reason I advocate a diet for our pets consisting of whole raw foods – essentially raw meat, raw meaty bones, and raw organs, is because cats’ and dogs’ bodies were designed to eat their food in its raw state, and because these animals are carnivores.

      I looked at the ingredients list of the (Natural Balance brand) pet food you’re feeding your dog and saw that the very first ingredient is sweet potatoes, which are a very starchy plant food that’s full of carbohydrates. The problem with this kind of ingredient is that Mother Nature never designed canines to eat any significant amounts of carbohydrate-rich plant based foods! Their bodies are simply not made to consume such things. Therefore over time, a diet rich in these kinds of starchy, plant based, carb-laden foods can lead to a number of different health complications.

      Here’s an article that explains more about why dogs are carnivores:


      All cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies were also designed by nature to eat what essentially amounts to little other than the bodies of their prey, which are comprised of raw meat, raw meaty bones, and raw organs. However the very first ingredient on the list of the Natural Balance fish pet food is brown rice. Again, this is an extremely starchy, plant based food that’s rich in carbohydrates. And feeding such foods to cats on a regular basis over the long term may very well lead to chronic health issues such as kidney failure, diabetes, obesity and digestive and urinary issues.

      The reasons these pet foods can cause problems for our pets is because they are:

      1) highly processed,

      2) cooked, and

      3) often made with cheap, starchy, plant based fillers (even if they’re grain free) which are not appropriate for carnivores to eat in any quantity.

      This is why I’m such a staunch advocate of feeding pets a diet of whole raw foods, and do not recommend processed, cooked pet foods.

      Please see my website http://rawfedcats.org for more information on all this, as there are over 50 pages of free information available there for you to read. There are also numerous links to other articles, websites and resources on the links page of my site, where you can find even more information on the reasons for and benefits of raw feeding for pets.

      May 23rd, 2012 1:39 pm Reply
      • PAUX

        You are right on. I was feeding my dog the potato and duck (it had been duck and poatao), twithin the first 6 ingredients three of them were a potato substance, one a texturizer, which can become toxic, and canola oil (most likely GMO). This product is mainly starch with very little duck. It cause the demise of my beloved pet, I was not only starving him with this product, I was also poisoning him. I now only give home cooked and raw, no more “quality” commercial kibble for my fuzzy friends.

        May 25th, 2012 3:36 am Reply
        • PAUX

          The 7th ingredient was “natural flavor”, which can be MSG or greasy fat.

          May 25th, 2012 3:45 am Reply
  • Gemma

    I am extremely happy about this new topic! Thanks for this very good article! I have been eating a wholesome diet since a year, but my two dear cats still eat the junk I buy them. I have wanted to change their food for some time now, but never took the time to investigate.
    By the way Sarah, I love this website. It has helped me and my family so much! So now also for my cats!
    Greetings from The Netherlands!

    May 22nd, 2012 9:17 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Welcome Gemma! I am so excited that the international readership of this blog is growing! Folks from other areas of the world add such an interesting and varied perspective to the discussion. It is really crucial that all points of view are included as we all try to find our balance and health in this crazy world of processed foods and rampant and often hidden toxins.

      May 22nd, 2012 10:35 am Reply
      • Gemma

        Thank you for welcoming me, I have been fallowing you for almost a year! :) It is nice to hear that the international perspective is appreciated. Here in Holland we face a lot of the same challenges, but (like in the US) I see a growing number of people becoming conscious of food and health. For example, this year the 1st Weston A. Price Day The Netherlands was organized and it was successful!

        May 23rd, 2012 11:45 am Reply
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