Are You Feeding Your Dog Feed Or Food?

Do you know what the difference between “feed” and “food” is?

On the left is a picture of rendered fish, spilled on the road from an overturned truck on its way to, believe it or not, a cat food manufacturing plant. That’s right, that pile of pink sludge was destined for cat food. Oh, and don’t worry it still made it there. The fish was shoveled off the road into another truck, and off it went gravel and all to its original destination.

At first glance, it already looks terrible, and if you observe the truck, you’ll notice that the fish wasn’t even under refrigeration. This picture is an example of the difference between feed and food as defined by the pet food industry.


The FDA defines feed as, “Material that has been determined to be safe, functional, and suitable for its intended use in animal food, is handled and labeled appropriately, and conforms to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act unless otherwise expressly permitted by the appropriate state or federal agency (suitable for use in animal food).”

Now let’s break down that definition in more laymen terms.


“Material that has been determined to be safe, functional, and suitable for its intended use in animal food…”

Per FDA policies, material that pests, pesticides, industrial chemicals, natural toxicants (mold and mycotoxins), animal waste, and drug residues contaminate are “safe” for our pets. The FDA allows all the above into pet food.

Functional is not the same as optimal nutrition. Meaning your dog might live on it but he won’t thrive on it. Your dog’s meal might include roadkill, diseased animals, spoiled grocery meat (Styrofoam and plastic wrap packaging included), and euthanized animal products. The meal is ‘functional’ but is not ‘optimal.’


“… is handled and labeled appropriately…”

Feed-grade ingredients do not require refrigeration. In fact, meat can sit outside in the hot sun for weeks at a manufacturing plant. According to the law, though the sun-baked meat is “handled appropriately” for use in animal food.

FDA holds pet food companies accountable for labeling details such as font size, color, and placement on their packaging but not for the representations on the package such as images of fresh meat and vegetables that may or may not accurately depict the ingredients used.


“… conforms to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act unless otherwise expressly permitted by the appropriate state or federal agency…”

The words “unless permitted by the appropriate federal agency” are significant. You see, according to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act feed isn’t even legal. The law reads in part: “The term “food” means articles used for man or other animal” and another part reads “ food shall be deemed to be adulterated if it contains “poisonous, insanitary, or deleterious ingredients.”

FDA found a way around this law by developing the FDA compliance policies. These policies allow pet feed manufacturers and brands to get away with using ingredients deemed illegal by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act such as 4D cattle (D’s stand for dead, dying, diseased, and disabled).

Now contrast what you just learned about feed with this definition of food: “Every ingredient and the resulting product are stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for human edible foods as specified in 21 CFR 117.”

One of these “good manufacturing processes” includes the food being under constant inspection by the USDA in an approved facility. Other good manufacturing practices include refrigeration, clean facilities, and facility inspections. 4D meats are condemned as inedible for human consumption and do not fall under the definition of Food.


Not the Same

So, Food is not the same as Feed. Governing laws define and recognize ‘food and ‘feed’ differently. Manufacturers can make them in different facilities: approved and under constant inspection by the USDA… or not.
How will you know the difference between a Feed or a Food product? This short video should help.

Video – Thanks to Susan Thixton of 


Take A Stand – Choose Food

Food will satisfy a dog, but feed will lead to long-term consequences. We’re on a quest for healthy, long-lived companions and choosing to give them food is the first big step.

The majority of your dog’s immunity lies in his gut. Nourishing his gut is essential to avoiding the multitude of ailments that attack most dogs. Diet strongly influences common conditions like arthritis, cancer, leaky gut, obesity, and allergies.

Choose Food, so your dog can be a happy, healthy companion for many more years.



  – Ivy Alexis


dogs, dog food, dog treats, yorkie's death blamed on dog treats



FDA. “Pet Food” Feb. 9, 2016 Web Aug. 5, 2017. <>

Sagman, Mike. “The Shocking Truth About Commercial Dog Food” Dog Food Aug. 5, 2017. <>

Thixton, Susan. ” The Only True Pet FOOD, Human Grade” Truth About Pet Aug. 15, 2016 Web. Aug. 5, 2017. <http:/>

Thixton, Susan. “The Truth Spilled” Truth About Pet Feb. 4, 2015 Web Aug. 5, 2017. <>

Photo by Washington State Dept. of Agricultural licensed under CC by 2.0





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