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Best Human Grade Dog Food: 7 Super Eats You Might Envy!

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Dog Food By Ben Team 24 min read August 21, 2023 7 Comments

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best human grade dog food

Modern canines enjoy foods that are leaps and bounds better than the foods dogs available only a few decades ago.

These days, pet parents can choose from an array of nutritionally balanced, high-protein foods, which are often fortified with vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotic supplements, and other helpful food additives.

There are even a few manufacturers who’ve begun taking things a bit further.

Instead of cooking up “feed quality” recipes for dogs (which are essentially held to the same standards as cow or chicken feed), these brands have started using “human-grade” ingredients and manufacturing human-grade foods in USDA-compliant kitchens.

We’ll dive into the subject below and examine a few foods made with human-grade ingredients. We’ll try to illustrate the differences between these types of foods and others, explain what human-grade ingredients are, and point out a few of the best human-grade dog foods on the market.

Best Overall Human-Grade Dog Food
Best Dry Human-Grade Dog Food
Most Affordable Human-Grade Dog Food
Best Overall Human-Grade Dog Food
Best Dry Human-Grade Dog Food
Most Affordable Human-Grade Dog Food

Best Human Grade Dog Food Brands

human grade food for your dog

The following pet food manufacturers make some of the best “human-grade” foods around.

Each manufacturer emphasizes different things in their recipes, so be sure to review them all before making your choice.

Note that most of these foods require pet parents to submit a bit of information about your pooch. This info may be used to alter and customize the recipe slightly so that it will perfectly suit your pooch.

These questionnaires vary in length and by the level of detail they entail, so I went through and filled them all out for my own pooch. We then listed all of the questions asked, so you’ll know what to expect.

Also, because most of these foods are quite a bit more expensive than traditional dog foods, we’ve included the manufacturer’s comments about pricing, as well as the total cost to feed my own dog.

1. Ollie

Best Overall Human-Grade Dog Food
Ollie Fresh Dog Food
Gently cooked, veterinarian-designed recipes made in small, lab-tested batches for safety.
Special Discount: We've cut a deal with Ollie -- new customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

Buy Ollie with K9 of Mine’s link to get 50% off your first order!

About: Ollie provides custom-designed dog foods that are specifically designed to suit your pup’s individual needs. You’ll need to provide some basic information about your dog to get started, and then you can just sit back and wait for your pet’s food to arrive at your front door.

Their foods are made with fresh ingredients (and no artificial flavors or colors), so they’ll need to be refrigerated or frozen once you receive them. Once it’s time to feed Fido, just use the included portion scoop to measure out the proper amount for your pooch.  

Notable Features:

  • All recipes are customized to suit your dog’s size, age, breed, body composition, activity level, and allergies
  • Recipes are vet-formulated to meet the AAFCO’s guidelines for all life stages (including large-breed dogs)
  • All of the meats used in the recipes are sourced from the U.S. or Australia
  • 1% of the brand’s revenues are donated to shelters
  • You pick the basic recipes, and Ollie customizes them for your pet’s needs
  • Each batch of food is lab-tested for safety and quality

Basic Recipes Offered:

  • Healthy Turkey Feast
  • Hearty Beef Eats
  • Chicken Goodness
  • Tasty Lamb Fare

Ingredients for Healthy Turkey Feast:

Ingredients List

Ground turkey, pumpkin, turkey thigh, turkey liver, turkey heart...,

carrot, turkey gizzard, lentils, kale, blueberries, coconut oil, chia seeds, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, cod liver oil, salt, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, potassium iodate

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 44%

Price: Ollie reports that most meal plans start at $3.00 per day for small dogs, but the average recipe runs about $6.00 per pound. When I put in my 95-pound Rottie’s details, the total came to $96.83 per week.

Customization Questions:

  • Owner’s first name
  • Dog’s name
  • Zip Code
  • Email
  • Breed
  • Sex
  • Spayed/Neutered?
  • Dog’s DOB
  • Activity Level
  • Weight
  • Body Condition
  • Current Food Type
  • Primary Current Protein
  • Allergies?
  • Select your protein

Pros

  • Made with premium meats sourced from the US and Australia
  • Most recipes contain organ meats and nutritious produce
  • Most dogs appear to love the taste
  • Backed by Ollie’s “bowl-lickin’ good” money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Pricey, like most other human-grade foods
  • Pet parents shared a few complaints about the customer service department
  • Subscription required to order

2. A Pup Above

Best Dry Human-Grade Food
A Pup Above "Cubies" Sampler Pack

Tasty, gently dried, human-grade "cubies" style dry dog food made with non-GMO veggies and available in four flavors!

Special Discount: Get $50 off with code K950 at checkout!
Buy on A Pup Above

Score $50 off your order with code K950 at checkout!

About: Want to feed your pup a human-grade diet without dealing with the mess and fuss of traditional fresh foods?

A Pup Above offers a great solution with their dry line of food. Their line of dry food is made with the same quality standards and ingredients as their fresh food, but with the convenience of kibble and at a more affordable price!

Notable Features:

  • With A Pup Above’s human-grade ingredients, all meats are free of added hormones and antibiotics. All ingredients are USDA certified, and all veggies are non-GMO and pesticide-free.
  • Vet nutritionists on staff (Dr. Sarah Abood and Rebecca Remilliar) formulate the recipes and confirm that recipes are balanced according to AAFCO standards.
  • Unique “Nutri-dry” process (similar to freeze-drying) gently dries food instead of using high-heat cooking methods, which are common with traditional kibbles.
  • Solid transparency, with the ability to type in a code found on your specific packaging into their lot tracer tool to find the exact origins of your dog food’s ingredients.
  • Uses eco-friendly packaging with curbside-recyclable boxes and insulation. Dog food bags can be recycled via Terracycle.

Recipes Offered:

  • Beef Pot Roast
  • Porky’s Porchetta
  • Chicka Pupatouille
  • Turkey Pilaf

Ingredients for Beef Pot Roast Cubies:

Ingredients List

Beef, beef heart, sweet potato, yellow peas, red lentils...,

eggs, flaxseed, carrot, cauliflower, pork plasma, cranberry, salmon oil, olive oil, salt, cultured dried skim milk, thyme, parsley, minerals [potassium chloride, calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, magnesium oxide], vitamins [vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid].

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 43.26%

Price: A Pup Above’s dry dog food cubies are more expensive than most other standard dry foods on the market, as they’re using human-grade ingredients and a specialized cooking process. Crunching the numbers, their dry food cubes would set you back about $7 to $9 per day for a 30-pound dog. It would cost around $145 to $180 per week (roughly $21 to $26 per day) to feed my 95-pound Rottie this food (depending on the box size ordered and whether or not I’d sign up for the subscribe-and-save plan).

Pros

  • Most dogs appear to love the taste
  • This human-grade food is easy to store and serve, with conveniently dried cubes
  • No subscription required

Cons

  • Pricey compared to other dry foods
Our Hands-On Review

Our CEO Meg Marrs got to sample A Pup Above’s sample pack of cubies — and Remy was a big fan!

Meg’s notes:
Remy when absolutely nuts for this stuff! He was constantly underfoot whenever I went to pour out his portion. I loved how easy this food was to prepare compared to fresh dog food — no messy packaging or gross-out factor.

Plus, the food cubes were high-value enough for Remy that I could use them as treats when working on training and tricks. Remy put in 100% effort as if these cubes were the same value to him as a block of cheese!

pup above cubes review

3. Nom Nom

Best Ingredient Sourcing in a Human-Grade Dog Food
Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
A tasty, nutritious, and custom-crafted dog food made from only US-sourced ingredients.
Special Discount: New customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

Get 50% off your first Nom Nom order with K9 of Mine’s link.

About: Nom Nom produces single-serving-sized fresh foods that are designed to please your dog’s palate with a variety of high-quality “restaurant-quality” ingredients.

As with many other “human-grade” food manufacturers, they sell their products as part of a subscription-based service.

When you sign up for Nom Nom, you’ll need to provide some basic information about your dog’s breed, size, and any health issues he is battling. This will allow the company to tailor one of their vet-designed formulas to specifically suit your pooch.

Notable Features:

  • Customized based on weight, age, activity level, and health issues
  • Free nutrition consultation with your order
  • Pre-portioned meals – simply rip open the bag and dump it in your pet’s bowl
  • No organ meats included – organ meats aren’t bad for dogs, but their nutritional content can vary, which creates problems when trying to balance a recipe
  • Specially prepared nutrient mixes are used in each food to ensure proper vitamin and mineral content
  • Dog food samples available to new customers

Basic Recipes Offered:

  • Beef Mash
  • Turkey Fare
  • Chicken Chow
  • Pork Potluck

Ingredients for Turkey Fare:

Ingredients List

Ground turkey, eggs, brown rice, carrots, spinach...,

dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, fish oil, vinegar, citric acid, taurine, choline bitartrate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide.

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 44%

Price: Nom Nom says that meal plans vary from about $100 to $300 per month and that it will cost about $155 to $200 for 30 days of food for a 30-pound dog. To feed my 95-pound Rottweiler, the total came to $88.22 per week with the two-week-at-a-time schedule. They also offer 20% off your first order.

Customization Questions:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Pet’s Name
  • Pet Type (Dog/Cat)
  • Current Weight
  • Target Weight
  • Dog’s DOB
  • Recipe
  • Delivery Frequency
  • Appears to be 4 meals per day

Pros

  • Most dogs appear to love the taste
  • Most pet parents reported things like healthier skin and coat condition, as well as increased energy levels
  • These foods are made in Nom Nom’s own, Bay-Area kitchens
  • No subscription required

Cons

  • As with most foods made with fresh ingredients, Nom Nom meals are pricey
  • A few pet owners had problems with the company’s customer service department
  • The individual serving bags are sometimes difficult to open

4. The Farmer’s Dog

Most Eco-Friendly Human-Grade Dog Food
The Farmer’s Dog
Nutritious, freshly prepared dog foods shipped in biodegradable earth-friendly packaging.
Special Discount: With K9 of Mine, you can get 50% off your first order!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

Take 50% off your first order with K9 of Mine’s link.

About: The Farmer’s Dog is another subscription-based food service that seeks to provide owners with real, fresh food in a convenient fashion. All of the recipes produced by the Farmer’s Dog are made with “human-grade” ingredients that are sourced from suppliers and farms that meet USDA standards.

After setting up an account with The Farmer’s Dog, you’ll need to answer a few questions about your doggo so that they can tailor the recipe to suit his breed, age, activity level, ideal weight, and any sensitivities he may have. A few days later, you’ll receive your first batch of food.  

Notable Features:

  • Meal plans are customized to suit your dog’s specific needs
  • All foods are prepared in USDA kitchens
  • Flexible shipment schedules available
  • All food is delivered within a few days of being cooked
  • Packed with biodegradable insulation materials – you can compost them or throw them in the sink and dissolve them in water
  • Each recipe features The Farmer’s Dog proprietary nutrient blend

Basic Recipes Offered:

  • Turkey & Parsnip
  • Beef & Lentils
  • Pork & Sweet Potato

Ingredients for Turkey & Parsnip:

Ingredients List

Turkey, parsnips, chickpeas, carrot, broccoli...,

spinach, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, fish oil, taurine, vitamin B12 supplement, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, vitamin E supplement, copper amino acid chelate, thiamine mononitrate, sodium selenite, riboflavin supplement, potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 32%

Price: The Farmer’s Dog reports that meal plans for smaller dogs start at less than $3 per day. I plugged in my 95-pound Rottie and found that it would cost $118.29 per week.  

Want more info? Read our full review of The Farmer’s Dog here!

Customization Questions:  

  • Email Address
  • Owner’s first name
  • How many dogs
  • Dog name(s)
  • Zip Code
  • Do I believe that fresh food is healthiest?
  • Dog’s sex
  • Dog’s age
  • Spayed/Neutered
  • Weight
  • Personality question
  • Breed
  • Body condition
  • Activity level
  • Eating style (picky to will eat anything)
  • Health issues (20 different options)
  • Type of current food
  • Brand of current food
  • Does she get treats/scraps?
  • Prescription diet?
  • Select recipes

Pros

  • Pet owners reported that most dogs loved the taste and digested the food well
  • Meals are frozen flat, thereby minimizing the amount of fridge space necessary
  • We love the biodegradable nature of their packing materials

Cons

  • A subscription is required to order
  • Only available in 3 flavors
  • Foods are packaged in larger quantities, which is eco-friendly but inconvenient

5. Pet Plate

Most Convenient Human-Grade Dog Food to Serve
PetPlate
Pre-portioned dog foods packaged in individual easy-to-serve microwavable tubs.
Buy on Pet Plate

About: Pet Plate offers a subscription-based food plan that allows you to receive fresh, veterinarian-designed meals at your home.

Designed to be supremely convenient to store and use, Pet Plate meals come in pre-portioned plastic containers, which you can warm up in the microwave before feeding your pet.

You can even sign up for Pet Plate’s special topper plan. This is great for owners who feed their dogs kibble but want to add something nutritious and tasty on top.

Notable Features:

  • Each meal plan is customized to suit your dog’s size and age
  • All recipes are designed by a veterinarian to meet or exceed the AAFCO’s guidelines for all life stages
  • Cooked and tested in the USA
  • Can be stored in your freezer for up to one year
  • All meats come from USDA farms

Basic Recipes Offered:

  • Chompin’ Chicken
  • Barkin’ Beef
  • Tail Waggin’ Turkey
  • Lip Lickin’ Lamb

Ingredients for Tail Waggin’ Turkey:

Ingredients List

Turkey, sweet potatoes, potatoes, turkey liver, apples...,

carrots, green peas, pumpkin, salmon oil, dicalcium phosphate, salt, proprietary supplement blend (vitamin E, zinc oxide, ferrous fumarate, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide, vitamin D3) 

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 41.59%

Price: Pet Plate estimates that meal plans cost between $2 and $19 per day, depending on your dog’s size. Feeding a “medium-sized” dog will cost about $6 to $8 per day. When I filled out the questionnaire for my 95-pound Rottie, the total came to $89.95 per week.

Customization Questions:

  • Dog’s name
  • Breed
  • Dog’s DOB (they even ask for the day)
  • Weight
  • Recipe (you can select up to four)
  • Email Address

Pros

  • Most dogs appear to love taste
  • Each meal is very easy and convenient to serve
  • We love that the foods can be frozen for as long as 1 year if need be

Cons

  • Customization options aren’t as varied as they are for some other human-grade foods
  • Slightly lower protein content than other, comparable foods

6. Honest Kitchen

Most Affordable Human-Grade Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Dehydrated

A tasty and affordable dog food that comes in dehydrated form and is made from human-grade ingredients.

Get 30% off your order with the code K930!

Buy at The Honest Kitchen Our Review

Take 30% off your order with the code K930!

About: Like the other foods we’ve discussed so far, the Honest Kitchen produces premium dog food recipes that are made from “human-grade” ingredients.

However, unlike these other brands, the Honest Kitchen recipes are not fresh dog foods and are not sold via a subscription-based service.

Instead, you simply buy your dog’s food as needed.  

In addition to a variety of kibble toppers and partial dog food mixes, the Honest Kitchen provides two basic types of food: Dehydrated meals that you add to warm water and serve, as well as their Whole Food Clusters line, which is essentially a kibble-style product you can serve as-is.

We’ll primarily be focusing on the dehydrated meals here, as that is their primary focus.

Notable Features:

  • Made in the USA in a “human-grade” food processing facility with many organic ingredients
  • Several different recipes to choose from, including grain-inclusive and grain-free options
  • Honest Kitchen was the first company to produce “human-grade” dog foods, being the first pet food company to obtain approval from the FDA to use the term “human grade” on its products
  • Requires no refrigeration (although re-hydrated leftovers would need to be refrigerated)
  • Contains no feed grade by-products, artificial preservatives, or GMO ingredients  

Ingredients for Cage-Free Turkey:

Ingredients List

Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Oats, Dehydrated Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Carrots...,

Dehydrated Cabbage, Dried Apples, Dehydrated Honey, Dehydrated Organic Kelp, Dried Garlic, Minerals [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), D- Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement].

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 24.07%

Price: Approximately $1.61 per pound. Crunching the numbers, this food looks like it would cost me about $45 per month to keep my 95-pound Rottie fed a similar amount of calories that she currently gets. That’s in the same ballpark as what I currently spend on her premium kibble.  

Customization Questions: None – simply pick the food you think will work best.

Pros

  • Much more affordable than the other human-grade dog foods listed here
  • No subscription required
  • A wide variety of recipes are available
  • Pet parents can choose between grain-inclusive and grain-free options

Cons

  • Not as fresh as some other human-grade dog foods
  • A bit of preparation is required before serving
  • The consistency doesn’t look very appealing to most owners (then again, they’re not eating it!)

7. Raised Right

Best Human-Grade Dog Food Without Synthetic Vitamins
Raised Right Human-Grade Dog Food
An American-made pup food featuring human-grade ingredients and zero synthetic vitamins.
Buy on Raised Right

About: Rather than rely on synthetic vitamins, Raised Right uses real sources of nutrients like tasty organ meat and produce to provide a nutritionally balanced meal for your pooch. These limited-ingredient recipes also contain healthy fats like cod liver oil to nourish your canine’s skin and coat, as well as ground eggshells to provide calcium.

As with many other fresh options, this food has a ground meaty texture, pleasing the palates of most doggos and being easier to eat for floofs with missing teeth.

Made in the USA with human-grade ingredients, Raised Right is vet-formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for your specific pooch. Just input your dog’s basic facts, and you’ll receive this fresh food shipped right to your door.

Notable Features:

  • Packed in recyclable boxes with compostable non-GMO corn liners
  • Select from a full box of 16 bags or a sample pack of 4 bags
  • Can be fed as your dog’s entire diet or as a mix-in nutrition and flavor booster
  • While a subscription is required, you can pause or update your plan at any time
  • Made in the USA at a USDA-inspected human-grade facility

Ingredients for Turkey Recipe:

Ingredients List

Turkey Thigh, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Carrots, Blueberries...,

Organic Spearmint, Cod Liver Oil, Egg Shell Powder, Flaxseed Oil, Organic Dried Kelp

Protein Content (Dry Matter Basis): 62%

Price: Feeding a 40-pound dog of normal activity levels looking to maintain his weight 100 percent Raised Right would cost $13.04 a day. For the same dog weighing 20 pounds, the price drops to $7.76 daily, and with a 95-pound pooch, it’d be $24.96.

Customization Questions:

  • Is your dog a puppy or adult?
  • How much does your canine weigh?
  • What’s your pup’s activity level?
  • Does your dog need to lose, gain, or maintain his current weight?

Pros

  • Pet parents love that it relies on natural sources of nutrients versus synthetic vitamins
  • You can mix and match recipes in every order to give your dog variety if you like
  • Limited-ingredient recipes are ideal for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities
  • We love the inclusion of organ meats and fresh produce

Cons

  • Definitely one of the pricier human-grade dog food options
  • Requires refrigerator space

Another Option: Human-Grade Dog Food Toppers

Best Human-Grade Dog Food Topper
Portland Pet Dog Food Toppers
Delicious, human-grade dog food toppers, which can make your dog's food irresistible.
Buy on Portland Pet Buy on Amazon

About: Portland Pet’s Meal Pouches offer you another way to spice up your pooch’s dinner while sticking to only human-grade ingredients. Simply open up a pouch, microwave it if you like, pour it on top of your pup’s chow, and give it a little stir.

Voila! Five-star dinner is served!

Though marketed as toppers, these meals are *this close* to being nutritionally complete dog dinners by themselves. So, not only will they make your dog’s food taste better, they’ll add a ton of nutritional value to your dog’s dinner too.

Basic Recipes Offered:

  • Hopkins’ Pork N’ Potato
  • Rosie’s Beef N’ Rice Meal
  • Tuxedo’s Chicken & Yams
  • Grandma Ada’s Turkey & Yams
  • Wally’s Salmon N’ Rice

Ingredients for Rosie’s Beef N’ Rice Meal Pouch:

Ingredients List

Beef, Brown Rice, Peas, Carrots, Beef Heart...,

Eggs, Millet Flour, Vegetable Oil, and Powdered Eggshell.

Pros

  • Most dogs go absolutely nuts for the flavor of these meal pouches
  • These provide a tasty and nutritious way to upgrade your dog’s standard kibble
  • They can be helpful for enticing picky pups to feed

Cons

  • These will increase your overall dog food budget
  • Pet parents will have to put in some extra time and effort to prepare dinner
K9 of Mine Review

K9 of Mine contributor Kate Brunotts reviewed Portland Pet Food’s toppers with her dog, Spicy, a while back, but they recently sent me a couple of variety packs to try out with my pooch J.B.

(They also sent me some tasty treats, but we’ll talk about those another day. Suffice to say, they were much appreciated by my pup — especially the bacon-flavored ones.)

Portland Pet Meal Toppers Testing Portland Pet

Once dinner time rolled around, I opened up a bag, nuked it for 30 seconds, and mixed it in with my pupper’s food.

It actually looks pretty darn good, once it’s all mixed up.

Portland Pet Food Portland Pet Food Toppers

But unfortunately, my dog didn’t care for the taste.

🙁

I was not terribly surprised, as she is incredibly picky. I’m not kidding — she won’t even eat deli meats (but she will gladly slurp down asparagus, so go figure).

But that’s OK — I had other options.

Option #1: I grabbed a topper pouch and headed over to my girlfriend’s house to see if Willow, her 7-year-old, sugary-sweet great Pyrenees, would be interested.

Portland Pet Human Grade Food

As a matter of fact, she was interested.

The nomming commenced immediately and did not stop until her bowl was spotless. I’ve given her several other flavors since then, and she’s loved each and every one.

human dog foods

On to option #2: I sent my brother home with a few of the meal pouches after a recent visit. He tried them with Diesel, his 5-month-old Pyr. Diesel proved to be just as big a fan of these as Willow.

He greedily slurped both recipes down, which is saying something, as I’ve seen this dog politely take treats from me and then gently place them on the ground as if to say “no thanks.”

trying Portland Pet Human grade dog food

OK, so for those keeping score at home, we now have two big ‘ol pups who loved these human-grade toppers. But what about smaller breeds?

For that, we’ll have to move on to options #3 and #4. I gave a meal to two of my neighbors to try with their own dogs.

One of these puppers (who is unfortunately camera shy, so you’ll just have to use your imagination) is a slightly crotchety old shih tzu named Hardy.

Hardy, in a word, loved these toppers. His mom raved about the way he enjoyed them, and she mentioned that he is actually a bit of a picky fella.

Another one of my neighbors has a relatively chill and reserved Chihuahua named Taco (I should also point out that Taco is one of the largest Chihuahuas I’ve ever seen).

Just like Willow, Diesel, and Hardy, Taco enthusiastically devoured these meal pouches, as you can see:

Taco

So, while my particularly picky pupper wasn’t a fan, these meal pouches were quite popular with the four other floofs who had the chance to try them.

If you’re thinking about trying a topper for your dog and want to stick to human-grade ingredients, Portland Pet Food Pouches should clearly be your first choice.

Differences Between “Human-Grade” and “Normal” Dog Food

what is human grade dog food

We’ll talk about the definition of “human-grade” dog foods in a minute, but let’s start by looking at some of the key differences between a typical bag of kibble or dry dog food, canned dog foods, and a bag or tub of pet food labelled as “human-grade” or “made with human-grade ingredients.”

Some of the most important differences are detailed in the table below.

Characteristic“Human-Grade” Dog FoodTypical Kibble (Dry Food)Typical Canned Food
Overall AppearanceMost human-grade foods are comprised of readily identifiable ingredients you may cook for yourself. This includes things like pieces of chicken, rice, and peas. Usually, kibble takes the form of small, roundish, crunchy balls. Individual ingredients are rarely identifiable.  Some canned foods are minced and formed into a pate-like consistency. You’ll rarely be able to identify the constituent ingredients easily.
Other canned foods are comprised of cuts of meat, as well as carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, which are all mixed in a gravy-like sauce.
Preserved or Shelf Stable?Not usually. Most “human-grade foods” and foods made with “human-grade” ingredients must be kept refrigerated or frozen.
There are also a few “human-grade” foods that are dehydrated products, which are shelf stable and require no refrigeration.
Kibble or dry food is usually preserved. The best foods are generally preserved with naturally occurring mixed tocopherols (such as Vitamin E).
Kibbles are usually shelf stable for about one year.
Most canned foods are preserved, and – like kibbles – the best ones typically use naturally occurring mixed tocopherols as the preservative.
Most unopened canned foods are shelf stable for two years. Once opened, they’ll last about one week if refrigerated and sealed up tightly.
How to ServeThaw a frozen packet (if necessary), cut open bag or open tub, pour into your dog’s bowl. Most such packages are designed to contain a single serving.
Some “human-grade” come in dehydrated form, so you’ll need to add warm water to the mix before serving.
Scoop out desired amount and transfer to your pet’s bowl.

Open can and dump out the desired amount in your pet’s bowl.
Care of LeftoversThe leftovers of “human-grade” foods must be refrigerated. Leftovers can be left at room temperature for several hours. Leftovers must be refrigerated or discarded.
Special Recipes Available? (such as LID, joint-support, reduced calorie, etc.)YesYesYes
Available for All Life Stages?YesYesYes
CostVery highTypically, the most affordable optionHigher than kibble; lower than “human-grade”

What ARE Human-Grade Foods? What Does “Human-Grade” Even Mean?

what does human grade dog food mean

Chances are, if you are reading this, we don’t have to convince you that your dog deserves the very best.

That’s part of the reason you’re reading about dog foods in the first place. In fact, we’d bet that you probably like the idea of feeding your pet food that’s deemed high-enough quality to grace your own dinner table. In other words, you’d like foods made with ingredients that are fit for human consumption.

While there’s no doubt that the foods listed here are some of the healthiest dog foods on the market today, The problem is that the regulations regarding the use of the term “human grade” are complex.

There are at least four different federal agencies that play some role in the regulation of pet foods:

  • American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Further, the Department of Agriculture for each state is also involved in regulating some pet food labelling issues.

Theoretically, “human grade” dog foods are those made with “human-grade” ingredients and prepared in USDA-approved kitchens in accordance with the FDA’s 21 CFR part 117.

That seems simple enough, but there are a million complicating factors.

For one, some states won’t recognize any kitchen that manufacturers dog food to be a “human-grade” facility. This means that for some states, human-grade dog food simply doesn’t exist. Of course that doesn’t mean much for most pet parents, but it illustrates just how confusing and unregulated the “human-grade” title is.

Additionally, the term “human-grade” doesn’t even appear to have a legal definition, according to the AAFCO. The most appropriate term that does have a legal definition, and should therefore be used instead, is “human edible.”

This is important because there are two different types of foods that can come out of a USDA-approved kitchen: human edible and human inedible.

So, even if a food was processed in a USDA-approved kitchen, it may not be considered human edible or “human grade,” even if it can still be used in a pet food.

what is human grade food

Despite this, many manufacturers will promote the fact that their dog food is processed in a USDA-approved kitchen, although this doesn’t mean that the food is closer to human edible quality.

To complicate matters even further, many of the regulations in place are currently in a state of flux, as regulators are doing their best to adjust to these new trends in dog food manufacturing. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved in the near future.

Truthfully, at least at the moment while regulations are still developing, the label of “human-grade” is more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. There simply isn’t any kind of all-encompassing regulation or approval process when it comes to labeling a dog food as human-grade.

That being said, human-grade dog foods do tend to generally be high-quality options that most owners love. Most human-grade dog foods deal with fresh, wholesome ingredients, and owners tend to see favorable outcomes when switching their dogs to one of the human-grade brands we detail below.

In this article, we’ve explored only those brands that produce foods embodying a “human-grade” ethos, regardless of the technical, legal details of their claims.  

Human-Grade Dog Food FAQ: Your Questions Answered!

There’s no doubt about it: The subject of human-grade dog food triggers a number of questions among dog owners. So, we’ve tried to clear up a few of the most common questions about this subject below.

Can humans eat human grade dog food?

Theoretically, yes. If you wanted to eat human-grade dog food, you could. However, dog food contains fewer spices and flavors than human food, since dogs don’t always digest them well.

Is human grade dog food better than kibble?

Human-grade dog food offers a number of benefits over kibble, often using fresh ingredients and requiring less processing than traditional dry dog food.

If a dog food is made in USDA kitchens, does that make it human grade?

No. USDA kitchens can produce “human edible” and “human inedible” food, so just because a dog food was made in a USDA kitchen does not mean the food is human-grade.

How is human-grade dog food stored?

Fresh, human-grade dog food needs to be refrigerated. However, human-grade foods that are shelf-stable can be stored like ordinary kibble.

Do human-grade dog foods contain artificial flavors?

Not usually. However, there’s no regulation that prevents brands from doing so, as many human foods contain artificial flavors, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives.

Further Reading About the Term “Human-Grade” Dog Food

further reading

As you can see, there is a lot to unpack regarding the term “human grade,” as it relates to dog foods.

If you’d like to read a little more about the regulations surrounding the term “human-grade,” check out the following pages (some may require you to register before accessing the article or resource):

***

“Human-grade” foods may be relatively new to the pet food market, but we’re pretty sure they’re here to stay. There are a lot of things to like about human-grade dog food, and they help many pet parents feel much better about the food they give their pooch.

The issues with terminology and regulation will probably be resolved in the not-too-distant future, which will help clarify things for owners.

But, in the meantime, just be sure to examine any food you intend to purchase carefully, discuss your choice with your vet, and follow all of the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re struggling to distinguish between the myriad human-grade options, consider checking out our stack up comparing Ollie vs Farmer’s Dog, which highlights some of the key differences between various fresh foods.

Do you feed your dog a “human-grade” diet or do you just use a run-of-the-mill dry food? Does your pet prefer a wet food instead? What kind of meal plan do you employ for your pet?

We’d love to hear about your experiences! Let us know which one you chose and what your dog thinks about it in the comments below!

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the managing editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his beautiful wife, their Rottie, and their Pyr.

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7 Comments

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Susan

Have you ever tried Nutra Complete dog food?

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Ben Team

We’re not familiar with that specific food, Susan. We’ll take a look though.

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Jay Brown

One correction: Farmers Dog does not come in a “single” serving size bag as you write.
Farmers Dog even indicates in the plan instructions that each bag is for for 2 meals.
That is one of the cons for dog owners with smaller size dogs.
Our little guy only eats once a day.
Would be nice if they were single-serving size bags.

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Ben Team

Hey, Jay.
You’re totally correct — that was just sloppy language on my part.
I’ve corrected the article and apologize for the mistake.
Thanks for reading and pointing out the error.

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JK

I am a veterinarian and I have fed my petsThe Honest Kitchen for several years, and Ollie’s for about a year. I am very happy with both. I picked Ollie’s because it’s made in my region. Fresh foods are great for pets!

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nancy

love love love this site gives me so much needed information thank you so much

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Ben Team

So glad you enjoyed the site, Nancy!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to sign up for our mailing list.

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