Your canine best friend deserves nutritious, high-quality food, free of ingredients that you’d be afraid to feed even your human family.
Opting for human-grade dog food can be pricey, especially when feeding big dogs — it starts at around 25 cents per ounce, but can cost as much as $2 per ounce — but many dog owners find it’s worth the extra cost to be certain the food has wholesome and top-quality ingredients.
Our guide has the details you need to make an informed purchase of human-grade dog food, including recommendations on three brands to try.
About human-grade dog foods
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that dog food can be labeled human-grade only if it’s made in a facility designed for human food production and contains only ingredients that are suitable for human consumption.
Type of dog food
You can occasionally find human-grade kibble or frozen dog food, but the majority of human-grade dog food is either wet or dehydrated, which is mixed with water to create a consistency like a chunky wet dog food.
The food’s packaging will have a feeding chart, giving you guidelines of how much to feed your pet based on weight. Increase or decrease portions if your dog starts to lose or gain weight unintentionally.
Look for these features
‘Complete and balanced’
Look for an AAFCO statement on your human-grade dog food package stating that it’s complete and balanced. This means it contains all the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy.
Dog foods that aren’t complete and balanced can be sold as mixers or toppers.
Grain-free dog food has been one of the biggest dog food trends of recent years, but lately, studies have suggested that using exclusively grain-free dog food makes our canine companions susceptible to heart problems.
Choosing a dog food that contains a range of heart-healthy whole grains is a better option.
Named meat percentage
Dog food ingredients are listed on the package in order of most to least, but this still doesn’t tell you the exact percentage of each ingredient. If you want to know how much meat is in the food, look at the name to get a better idea.
For example, according to AAFCO rules, “salmon dog food” or “salmon for dogs” must contain at least 95% salmon, or at least 70% including water added for processing.
Food labeled “salmon dinner,” “salmon formula,” “salmon entree” or something similar must legally contain at least 25% salmon, not including water for processing.
Try these three human-grade dog foods
The Honest Kitchen Organic Whole-Grain Dog Food
We love this dehydrated formula that’s easy to turn into a wet food by adding water. It’s organic, complete and balanced and contains heart-healthy whole grains. It’s suitable as the sole food you give your dog, or as a topper to save money. Not all dogs like the consistency, but you can adjust it by adding more or less water.
Spot Farms Human-Grade Dog Food
This dehydrated dog food consists primarily of chicken, veggies and fruit, and is made with cage-free chicken raised in North Carolina with no antibiotics. It’s affordably priced compared to some high-end offerings, but some buyers thought it wasn’t chunky enough.
Caru Daily Dish Chicken Stew Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
A complete and balanced wet dog food with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, that you can serve alone or as a topper for kibble. The simple ingredients are great for dogs with sensitive stomachs. However, the grain-free formula can cause problems in some dogs, so it’s best mixed with a kibble with grain.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.