Best Human-Grade Dog Food

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
24 Hours Researched
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60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best human-grade dog food

Your dog is a member of your family, so it makes sense that you want to feed it food that is safe and nutritious. Human-grade dog food is made from ingredients that are safe for human consumption and are processed, handled, transported, and stored according to a strict set of regulations. However, just because dog food is good enough for humans doesn’t mean it is necessarily of exceptional quality, so it's important to pick the right one.

First, you need to know exactly what the term “human-grade” means, and then you can move on to the finer points, such as choosing between wet, dry, dehydrated, and freeze-dried food, as well as looking at the guaranteed analysis and whether the dog food you're considering is complete and balanced. 

If you're ready to buy, you can head straight to our featured top human-grade dog food choices. Otherwise, read on to discover all you need to know about human-grade dog food to make your purchasing decision more straightforward.

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Human-grade dog food formulated by canine nutritionists is likely to contain a better blend of ingredients than that formulated by amateurs in the field.

Key considerations

“Human-grade” label

There's technically no legal definition of the term “human-grade,” but it doesn't follow that the term means nothing. To figure out what it does mean, you need to know more about the terms "edible" and "inedible" as they relate to the supply chain. 

Edible food is defined as food suitable for human consumption. It is heavily regulated in terms of processing, handling, storing, and transportation. 

Inedible food is defined as food unsuitable for human consumption. It is far less regulated, and it can end up in pet food. 

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the body that regulates pet food in the United States, uses the terms “edible” and “inedible” above to decide which types of dog food can and can't use the “human-grade” label. A dog food can only call itself a “human-grade” product if it's made exclusively using edible ingredients in a facility designed to produce human food rather than pet food. 

Dog food type

Wet: Wet food is more likely than dry kibble to be made from human-grade ingredients because it tends to feature whole cuts of meat rather than meat meal. Though it's higher in protein than kibble and dogs tend to find it more palatable, it's significantly more expensive. If you have a large dog, feeding wet food alone isn't an option unless you have a huge budget for pet food. 

Dry: Kibble isn't often human-grade dog food, but you can find some options out there. It's less messy than wet food and costs less, but you may find your dog gets bored with it unless you mix in some wet food as a topper.

Dehydrated or freeze-dried: These foods are both dried at low temperatures, unlike kibble, which is baked. The food may or may not be raw. This low-temperature drying process preserves more of the food's natural qualities and means you can usually just add water to rehydrate it and create a food that's more similar to wet food than dry.

Guaranteed analysis

The guaranteed analysis is found on packages of all types of dog food, usually in the form of a chart. It tells you the percentage of a range of essential nutrients contained in the food in question. The trouble with comparing the guaranteed analysis between a range of different types of dog food is that they don't take into account the moisture in the food. For example, when you compare wet and dry food on a dry matter basis, accounting for their respective moisture content, a wet food with 18% protein is significantly more rich in protein than a dry food containing 35% protein.

You don't need to know how to decipher the guaranteed analysis (unless you want to learn), but you should look out for the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement, which tells you whether a dog food contains the right blend of nutrients to make up a complete canine diet.

If a dog food states it's "made with human-grade ingredients," it means all the ingredients are human-grade, but it was manufactured in a pet food facility rather than a human food facility.

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Features

Recipe

Most human-grade dog food is available in a variety of recipes, or flavors, such as beef, chicken, or salmon. Some recipes contain a single type of meat while others contain several, either for flavor or for more varied nutrition. Some dogs aren't picky at all, but others have meats they love and meats they dislike. You know your dog best, so choose a recipe you think it will enjoy. 

Nutrition

You probably want to feed your dog just one food that provides all the nutrients it needs, so choose a food that's labeled “complete and balanced.” This means it contains the correct balance of ingredients to keep your dog healthy. 

Origin

Many types of human-grade dog food are made in the United States since they must be produced in a suitable facility to be allowed to use the “human-grade” label. Just because a food is made in the USA, however, doesn't mean it contains ingredients sourced in this country, so that's something you might want to examine further.

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DID YOU KNOW?
It's best to switch your dog to a new food gradually. Start by replacing about 25% of the old food with the new food, and gradually increase the amount of new food each day for a week.
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Human-grade dog food prices

Human-grade dog food is understandably more expensive than standard dog food due to the higher ingredient and manufacturing costs. It can be tricky to compare prices because of different package sizes and portion amounts, so the best way is to look at the price per ounce. 

Inexpensive: This human-grade dog food costs from $0.25 to $0.50 per ounce and can be wet, dry, or dehydrated but not raw. 

Mid-range: This human-grade dog food is priced from $0.50 to $1 per ounce and includes some wet and dehydrated or freeze-dried options. 

Expensive: High-end human-grade dog food costs between $1 and $2 per ounce. You'll mostly find freeze-dried raw dog food in this price range. 

The terms "premium" and "gourmet" have no legal definition, so "premium" dog food isn't necessarily of better quality than options that don't tout this label.

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Tips

  • Check for any recalls. If a brand you're considering has frequent recalls, it may not be the most trustworthy option for your pet. 
  • Avoid dog food that contains excessive fillers. Your chosen product might be human-grade dog food, but it can still contain filler ingredients that are suitable for human consumption. Some grains and starches are perfectly healthy additions for dog food, but watch out for excessive amounts of wheat, corn, or soy.  
  • Consider buying organic human-grade dog food. Some buyers prefer to choose organic pet food so that they know the ingredients are free of pesticides, added hormones, antibiotics, and similar. 
  • Pay attention to the order of the ingredients on the label. Ingredients are listed in order of concentration, so the first ingredient on the list is the one the food contains the most of. However, note that this can be misleading where fresh meat is the first ingredient in dry food because the high moisture content isn't taken into account. 
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If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it might do better on a diet of a simple human-grade dog food that contains as few ingredients as possible.

FAQ

Q. Is grain-free dog food good for dogs? 

A. Although the demand for grain-free dog food has risen over the years, there's no reason why dogs need to eat grain-free food unless they're allergic to grains, which is quite uncommon in dogs. Whole grains are highly nutritious and beneficial to cardiovascular health. In fact, a recent study suggests that dogs on a grain-free diet are more prone to a type of heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). 

Q. How much human-grade dog food should I feed my canine companion? 

A. Like other types of dog food, your chosen human-grade dog food has a feeding guide that tells you how much you should feed according to your pet's weight. This is just an estimation, however, since there's more to determining portion size than just the dog's weight. Other factors, such as age and activity level, also influence the ideal portion size for your dog. If you’re unsure, start by feeding the recommended amount, but keep a close eye on your four-legged friend's weight and increase or decrease the amount you're feeding it as appropriate. 

Q. How can I tell how much of a particular meat is contained in my chosen dog food? 

A. Although dog food lists the ingredients in order of volume, you still can't tell just from looking at the ingredient list exactly how much of a particular meat it contains. You can get a better idea of the meat content by looking at the name given to the food. Using chicken as an example, if the food is called "chicken dog food" or "chicken for dogs" it must legally contain at least 95% chicken, or at least 70% when you account for "condiments" and water added for processing. If the food is labeled "chicken dinner," "chicken formula," "chicken entree," or similar, it must legally contain at least 25% chicken, not including water for processing.

 

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.

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