How to Grade Pet Food
2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points How about throw it away! Why take the chance with mystery meat.
3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points How about throw it away! There are clearly natural options which eliminate the need for these chemicals. * If chemical preservatives are used in pet food, a dog/cat will eat its body weight in chemicals after only 3 years.
4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points How about throw it away! (are you seeing a pattern here?) Again, why buy a food with mystery ingredients?
5) If the same grain ingredient is used two or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewer's rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points Not a bad suggestion, but with all of the options on the market, why settle for a 5 point deduction. Just buy something better.
6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than two meats in the top three ingredients, subtract 3 points Incorrect. If you are using high quality chicken meal, it will contain almost all meat (no bone, cartilage, fat, etc.) and there is no need for 2 meats in the top three) This criteria assumes that the meat source is not optimal.
7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points How about throw it away! This is not necessary and doesn't reflect well on the scientific advances of the company.
8) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points How about throw it away! Frankly, I’m surprised that only 3 points will be subtracted for this considering that corn is in the top 3 known allergens.
9) If corn is listed in the top five ingredients, subtract 2 more points Same as above
10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points ??? Would someone care to explain? Fish oil is great but it is almost never used as a primary fat source. Chicken fat will break down at body temperature and is highly digestible. Beef tallow (animal fat), however, should be avoided completely – not just subtract 2 points.
11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points Again, please explain the logic here. I guess it is not very relevant anyway since it only represents 2 points!
12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points How about throw it away! Soybeans are known allergens and aren’t worth the risk
13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points How about throw it away! Wheat is a known allergen and isn’t worth the risk
14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point How about throw it away! With the low quality of meats that are often used in pet foods and the constant threat of mad cow disease, why risk it? 1 point seems awfully low.
15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point Is there some new study that indicates salt is no longer needed in a dog’s diet? A minor issue, however, seeing it only represents 1 point.
Extra Credit: The whole concept of extra credit amazes me. It’s as if to say, go ahead and use the bad ingredients listed above as long as you counter balance it with the stuff below. So if my food uses organic meats and it is endorsed by a major breed group, I can use BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin?
1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points Organic by what standard? I would rather know that the ingredients have passed APHIS inspection for human quality.
2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points Science Diet is recommend by almost every vet in the country. Does that make it good? I know groups of breeders who feel that food is not important and buy whatever is cheapest.
3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points WRONG. How about asking at what temperature the food is cooked, or for how long, or if a multi thread extruder is used.
4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points I somewhat agree with this but it depends where the probiotics were obtained and if it is used in significant amounts.
5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points Human quality or rotten, discarded fruit?
6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points Human quality or rotten, discarded vegetables?
7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points Only 2 points! By the way, our chicken meal is hormone and steroid free but I guess that doesn’t count since it is meal. Interesting.
8) If the food contains barley, add 2 points Barley is fine. Not sure why it is singled out.
9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points How about flax seed meal (which is more stable)?
10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point I’m OK with this but still not sure why they are singling out certain grains
11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point No explanation is given for any of these single ingredients. (Of course, I know this test is for people who don’t want explanations)
12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point Not very relevant as it is only worth 1 point. I would agree, however, that different meats provide different nutritional profiles.
13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point What for? Both of these ingredients get cooked out after processing and is nothing more than a marketing ploy. What if I have a very arthritic dog, should I feed him more food and fatten him up so he can get more glucosamine? The best thing is to supplement. I say if there is glucosamine and chondroitin listed on the bag, get rid of it. You are dealing with a marketing company, not a concerned pet company.
14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point OK.
Grading 94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D 69 = F
Using a test like this is FAR from helpful. It is actually dangerously misleading. Considering that pets eat the same thing day in and day out, it is important to do some proper ‘due diligence’. Be sure that the company you choose uses TOP grade ingredients, not just certain types of ingredients.
It’s no different than saying a fast food hamburger is the same as a Filet Mignon because they are both beef.
So how can you know the quality of your pet food? Good question. You can only know if you have direct access to the people behind the company. That is what sets HealthyPetNet apart from most every company on the market. We pride ourselves in being different in every way. Not just by using superior ingredients, but by focusing on pet health and providing outstanding customer service. What other company invites you to speak directly with their product formulator every month on a National Conference Call?
To learn more about how to properly compare pet foods, click here. Please use your back button to return to The Healthy Dog
I personally want to thank John Albrecht for taking the time to give us his expertize of HealthyPetNet products. His knowledge of pet food ingredients come from his association with Dr. Jane Bicks