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Pet Food Ratings

How to Rate Your Pet Food

Take a look for yourself

Don’t let the colorful pictures and wording on pet food manufacturer’s bags mislead you! How do your pet food ingredients stack up to quality ingredients found in our Holistic/human-grade foods?

We’ve included a glossary following this chart that explains each of the undesirable ingredients.
Read more about “the truth about your pet food” here…

Below is a rating system for pet foods that may be helpful in showing you where your current brand lies and what are considered quality ingredients. We are not surprised to see that the brands that we carry rated highest on this grading because we are very careful about the foods that we offer our clients to ensure optimum health and wellness for your pet. Not surprising to see Science Diet, Purina, Iams and Royal Canin at the bottom, with an F (Failed) rating. Don’t be fooled by advertising that you see on T.V. Quality food companies put their money into quality ingredients for your pet, not in mass advertising. And when you see the big name brands introducing “new and improved natural formulas” don’t be fooled into believing that a lack of artificial ingredients means the rest of the food is good quality. Corn is natural, but you won’t ever find it in our pet foods here because it is merely a cheap source of protein many companies use instead of meat, yet can cause a host of problems in your pet, being a high sugar carb.

How to grade your pet’s food:

Start with a grade of 100:
1) For every listing of “by-product”, subtract 10 points
2) For every non-specific animal source (“meat” or “poultry”, meat, meal or fat -not actual protein source stated such as chicken, lamb, turkey etc) reference, subtract 10 points
3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points for each
4) For every grain “mill run” or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (I.e. “ground brown rice”, “brewers rice”, “rice flour” are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
6) If the meat protein sources are not in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
7) If it contains any artificial colorants or preservatives, subtract 3 points for each
8 ) If it contains corn (ground corn, corn gluten, whole grain corn etc) subtract 3points
9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10) If the food contains any added animal fat other than fish or flaxseed oil, subtract 2 points
11) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13) If it contains wheat or a component of wheat such as gluten, subtract 3 points
14) If it contains “digest” subtract 5 points
15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credits:
Bonus credit-If the food contains NO grains, add 10 points

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2) If the protein source is meal vs meat, add 5 points
3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4) If the food contains probiotics or prebiotics, add 3 points
5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points (these may be hard to determine as many manufacturers of natural holistic food use these products without actually printing the information on the bag)
8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2points
10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count “chicken” and “chicken meal” as only one protein source, but “chicken” and “” as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14) If the vegetables are pesticide-free, add 1 point

100+ = A+ 94-100=A 86-93 = B 76-85 = C 75 or lower= Failed

Some of our Dog Food scores (not in order of points):

Canidae / Score 117 A+
Foundations / Score 111 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 100 A
Innova Evo / Score 129 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 102 A+

Pro Series Holistic 120 A+

Orijen-not yet rated-high score guaranteed

A sample of “popular” store brands scored:

Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 F
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F



Animal Digest: This is the dry by-product of rendered meat. During rendering, all usable animal parts (including fetal tissues and glandular wastes) are heated in vats and the liquid is separated from the dry meal. This meal is covered with charcoal and labeled “unfit for human consumption” before processing it into pet food. Digest can also include intestines, as well as the contents of those intestines, such as stool, bile, parasites and chemicals.

Animal Fat and Tallow: Animal fat is a “generic” fat source that is most often made up of rendered animal fat, rancid restaurant grease or other oils that are deemed inedible for humans. Tallow is low quality hard white fat that most animals find hard to digest, not to mention the cardiac risks resulting.

Chemical Preservatives: Chemical preservatives include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytolulene), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used in automotive antifreeze and is suspected of causing red blood cell damage) and ethoxquin , are all potentially cancer causing agents that your pets are eating every day.

Chicken By-products: These are ground parts from poultry carcasses such as feet, heads, feathers, intestines, necks and undeveloped eggs and can included any rendered material.

Corn Products: Corn products including corn meal, gluten and grits are cheap, allergy causing fillers and are very difficult for animals to digest.

Food Fragments: Lower end by-products of the food manufacturing process, examples include wheat bran and brewers rice which are a waste product of the alcohol industry.

Ground Whole Grain Sorghum: The feed value of grain sorghum is similar to corn and is grown primarily as a feed grain for livestock.

Meat and Bone Meal: “Meat” and bone meal are inexpensive sources of animal protein. Note that these companies do not clarify the source of “meat”, nor are they human-grade meat. The protein in Meat meal containing a large amount of processed bone may not be digestible and fail to provide adequate nutrition.

Meat Based: A label that say “meat based” may also include blood vessels, tendons, organs and other parts of the rendered animal. Note again that these companies do not clarify the source of “meat”, nor are they human-grade meat products.

Meat By-products: Pet grade meat by-products consist of organs and parts not desired or not fit for human consumption. This can include organs, bones, blood and fatty tissue. It can also include brains, feet, heads, intestines and any other internal parts. Unbelievably, by-products can also contain cancerous or diseased tissue containing parasites, euthanized animals, .

Choosing dog food is a very personal decision, and no one formula is ideal for any breed. High protein, meat-based diets are not simply for pets with kidney/urinary issues or high metabolism pets, they are ideal for many because of the fact that dogs and cats are carnivores, not meant to eat grains or fillers. Grains are fillers, and metabolize into sugar, causing a gammit of problems including allergies, behavior issues and also poor muscle building. Food companies add corn/wheat etc to keep the price down and an important factor to keep in mind is that when you feed a higher quality food, you don’t end up paying more in the long run because your pet needs to eat less in order to receive optimal nutrition from the food, not to mention the money saved on vet bills resulting from problems caused by poor quality nutrition. Foods full of fillers equal “garbage in/garbage out”, meaning more food is required in order to receive the necessary nutrition, more stool is output to rid the body of grains and fillers that are unnecessary and undigestible (such as corn). We believe you should spend your money on your pet, not your vet.

The most important thing for anyone considering a new food is to read read read the label. First ingredient should be a human grade meat-meat meal is ideal because it means the water has been removed prior to weighing. Corn, Wheat, Glutens, BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, By-products, Animal Digest and chemicals/preservatives are all ingredients you want to avoid! I can’t begin to tell you how many clients come in with the label of their current pet food and are appalled to see what is actually in the food they are feeding, because they didn’t read the label, or most commonly, simply did not understand what the ingredients were.

Most independent pet stores offer frequent buyer benefits, and the smaller independent retailers are more likely to be knowledgeable regarding nutrition. It is not as important where you shop as it is to be informed about what your pet requires for ultimate health, and to be informed about the toxic effects of many ingredients that are in grocery store/big box/mass produced brands.

Be sure that whatever pet food you choose to feed your furry friend, you are informed about your choices and feel that you have a good relationship with your pet store to feel comfortable that they are knowledgeable about ingredients in each of the formulas available.

Your pet’s health is our priority!

Natural Pet Food    Grain-Free Pet Food