Pet Food Ingredients… Truth or “Con”?

I’m an advocate for eating real food for myself and my animals. I am continually shocked and amazed by reports that people food is not good for animals. I wonder how much of the warning info is put out by dog food manufacturers so we will buy their food? “Pet Food Studies Are Traditionally Funded by [large] Pet Food Companies Looking to Market New Products,” says Dr. Becker at

Who makes your pet food?

“… very little regulation of commercial pet food quality exists in the U.S. Neither the USDA nor the FDA gets involved in what is fed to the majority of companion animals in this country.”

“The term ‘human-grade’ in pet food means the finished product is legally suitable and approved as nourishment for humans. It is edible.” Feed grade, which is pretty much the opposite of human-grade, is a finished product unsuitable for human consumption (inedible). It can only be legally fed to animals (not humans). Feed-grade ingredients are essentially waste products of the human food industry. The bulk of these ingredients are rendered by-products derived from:

• Meat slaughtering and processing plants. Dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters and other facilities
• Fats, grease and other food waste from restaurants and stores.

Can anyone tell me why pet food made from ‘real food’ needs something called “digest?” Purina says: “The word ‘digest’ in ‘animal digest’ refers to the digestive process used in production, not the ingredients.
• The process starts with animal protein – such as muscle and soft tissue – supplied by USDA-inspected facilities.
• These ingredients are hydrolyzed or “digested” to break down the animal protein into peptides in a manner similar to digestion in the body.
• The resulting digest is a liquid, but can also be made into a paste or powder.
• Animal digest provides protein and flavor.
• Animal digest is extremely palatable and is an excellent source of high-quality protein.
• It’s often used in small amounts to enhance the taste of dry pet foods.
• Spraying animal digest on kibble or mixing it with the food significantly increases palatability.”

“The pet food rendering industry exists for one reason – to turn animal and food waste not fit for human consumption into ingredients pet food manufacturers will buy.”

Quincy, regal (and muddy!) Great Pyrenees

Most of us need to look at cost along with nutrition and it’s really a matter of doing the best we can. My plan isn’t perfect for sure. I feed my dogs a combo of purchased grain-free dry food and roasted meat and veggies that I make weekly, plus homemade treats. I give my cats and dogs good, plain yogurt from time to time, as I believe it deters worms.
See this link for recipes: Roasted Chicken & Veggie Dog Food, Oyster Kitty Treats and Horse Treats,

Here’s info on how to buy quality pet food:

Here are 2017 pet food recalls per the FDA:

We have all read the endless lists of foods that ‘might’ be detrimental to our pet’s health. This headline by caught my eye — Google it to read: “The Incredible, Edible Egg:
Nutritional or Deadly for Pets?”
This list was posted online along with many others.
The following foods may be dangerous to your pet:
• Alcoholic beverages
• Apple seeds
• Apricot pits
• Avocados
• Cherry pits
• Candy (particularly chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets, and any candy containing the sweetener Xylitol)
• Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
• Grapes
• Hops (used in home beer brewing)
• Macadamia nuts
• Moldy foods (such as blue cheese)
• Mushroom plants
• Mustard seeds
• Onions and onion powder
• Peach pits
• Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
• Raisins
• Rhubarb leaves
• Salt
• Tea (caffeine)
• Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
• Walnuts
• Xylitol
• Yeast dough

I am not the expert, but common sense matters. If you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) eat it or drink it, why feed it to your pets? When is the last time you ate fruit or veggie seeds or pits? We all know that processed foods, chemicals, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners aren’t on the positive side of what we might eat. How many of us eat coffee grounds, hops, or moldy food (exception might be certain cheeses)?

As with children, it is possible that a pet could get into things that they shouldn’t. My Dane/Plott likes to rummage through my garden if given access, but she tends to eat strawberries and not plants. Pets aren’t garbage disposals. And since humans hold them captive, we have an obligation to do right by them!

The AKC gives interesting info around feeding dogs pork, lamb, eggs, grain and more!

Lovable Mabel McGillicutty

Is garlic toxic to dogs? Again, a myth in my world and here’s a garlic recommendation from “My recommendation is to add medicinal quantities of freshly chopped garlic to your pet’s food daily during flea and tick season. That’s about 1/4 teaspoon for every 15 pounds of dog. A dog under 15 pounds would get about 1/8th teaspoon. For kitties, I’d do about 1/16th teaspoon.”

Read here why some think garlic is toxic to pets:

My cat typically won’t eat anything but good quality dry cat food. She has scoffed at any food or treat I made for her so I stick to good quality cat food and giving her an occasional side of freshly cooked chicken or fish and the juices.

I bake dog treats as needed, using different flours and herbs each time. For this recipe, I used buckwheat flour and mint leaves!

I recently got chicks, now young hens. They eat purchased organic grain and most of my compost, along with fresh organic cabbage hung on a string for them to enjoy at will! I added a big pot of growing oregano as I am told it acts as an antibiotic for hens – and they love it.

Buckwheat Mint Treats
1½ cups buckwheat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon pure honey
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, beaten
water as needed

Preheat oven to 400.
Hand mixing: In a large bowl, stir buckwheat flour, parsley and mint leaves together until combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, egg and honey. Pour mixture into the flour and stir. Knead dough with hands to thoroughly mix ingredients. Add a teaspoon of water at a time to help the dough come together. This takes about 3-5 minutes.
Processor mixing: Add flour and herbs then mix. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, egg and honey and add wet mixture to dry ingredients in food processor and mix. Add water as needed so dough comes into a ball in the processor.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to approx. ¼” thick.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie dough cutter. OR, use a small scoop. Place biscuits onto a parchment -lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. If you don’t want to store in the refrigerator, turn oven down to 170-200 and leave biscuits in the oven until very dry, about 2 hours. Store in an airtight container.

One of the biggest challenges for me is keeping fleas and ticks off my dogs! I have fed diatomaceous earth for several years and it works great for fleas. Ticks are another story! I do find that regular baths deter ticks but still pick them off my dogs, particularly in the Spring. I only resort to chemical solutions if I can’t stay ahead of them!
What animals do you feed and what are your favorite recipes or practices? What solutions do you have for fleas and ticks? I would love to hear from you! And I may print your solutions in an upcoming piece, so write to me.

Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not being the “mad scientist” in the kitchen or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys being the Food Editor for WNC Woman Magazine and volunteering in the community.

Check out my Blog at and Search FB for Sandys Food for Thought 828.273.9755
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Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall