Important Information Dog Food Companies Willfully Conceal


Hey, they’re laughing at us. Did you know that?

Right now, some pet food executive is sitting in his plush leather chair, behind his big fancy desk — and laughing.

He’s laughing at how hard we’re struggling to make sense of his product’s needlessly complicated list of ingredients.

Let’s face it — dog food ingredients lists are woefully inadequate.

Not Sharing Critical Information

The biggest problem with ingredient lists is that they intentionally leave out a crucial piece of information.  They fail to include the amount of each ingredient present.

Simply listing an ingredient without showing its corresponding amount conceals critical details… details necessary for you to make an informed choice.

Why does the dog food industry fail to divulge this vital data?  Are companies trying to protect their closely guarded formulas?

Or are they simply conspiring to cover up the inferiority of their products?

In this article I’m going to show you how two separate products with perfectly identical ingredient lists… can contain dramatically different amounts of meat-based protein.

A Problem of Unknown Proportions

Now, take a look at these two dog foods.

Notice they contain the same ingredients… and all the ingredients are listed in the exact same order (in keeping with federal law)… from the highest pre-cooking weight… to the lowest.

On a dog food label, both products would look like this…

Ingredients: Lamb, brown rice, barley, white rice, lamb meal

But here are the actual concealed percentages you never see…

OK… now notice the actual (but concealed) amounts. Same ingredients, same order… but different proportions.

Adding the lamb and lamb meal together you get the total meat content for each product.  Dog food A contains mostly grain ingredients… with just 29% meat.
Meat Content
Dog Food B includes significantly less grain… with a whopping 50% total meat content.

Now, which product would you rather feed your dog?

A “no-brainer”… don’t you think?

Sure, it’s a no-brainer… because in this example you’ve been given enough information to make an informed decision.

You actually know the amounts of the individual ingredients in the food.

Of course, that’s something you’d never know if you try to read one of today’s cryptic dog food ingredients lists.

And for me… that’s totally unacceptable.

Attention Dog Food Companies… Tell Us What You Know

Trying to figure out how a dog food measures up shouldn’t be so darn difficult to do.

Dog food companies should voluntarily divulge the precise percentage of each major ingredient in every product they make.  That would allow consumers to get a pretty good idea of what they were actually buying.

After all, if you’re a corporate executive… and your company makes a quality product you’re proud of… what have you got to hide?

Come on guys… you already know this information.  Please share it.

  • TTeddy

    It’s their food, which is full of processed, synthetic ingredients. It’s their vaccinations- They don’t need to be vaccinated every year, opt for a titer test.
    It’s the chemicals you use in and around your home. It’s the chemicals you bath them with, it’s the chemicals that are in those worming treatments, it’s the chemicals in their water and the flea treatments etc etc.
    It’s an immune that cannot fight off diseases etc….need I say more?

  • Lisa Enriquez

    You may want to look into TruDog

  • Grapplingvine

    The BalanceIT website is run by a board certified veterinary nutritionist and there is an “Autobalancer” program there that lets you choose the ingredients you would like to create nutritionally balanced recipes for your dog or cat. However the recipes do call for one of their vitamin/mineral supplements to be added to the mix.

  • Pingback: The Scary Truth About Commercial Dog Food | Yellow Dog Blog()

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Emily Smith –

    Going homemade is a great choice and the most healthy thing you can do for your dog – imo. Dogaware,com is a great resource. “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet” by Steve Brown and “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats” by Dr. Becker both have AAFCO compliant recipes. I have several recipes posted in the forum area of what I feed my dogs (raw): There’s also a Homemade Dog Food forum area .

  • Emily Smith

    Do you have any recommendations for making homemade dog food? My dog has TERRIBLE allergies, and we cannot figure out exactly what they are from. The more I think about it and the more I read, the more I think that I want to make my dog’s food myself, but I want to make sure that I am including all of the vital vitamins, minerals, and protein amounts, while at the say time, being budget friendly.

  • InkedMarie

    You have posted this on the Dog Food Advisor. The in charge man does not make dog food.

  • Blunite56

    Do you have any China byproducts in your canned or hard food

  • MC

    Mike Sagman, the ingredients for Free hand dog food is under ‘additional’ details when you look under the individual dog food bag.  for example  here is lamb:  Lamb meal, brown rice, brewer’s rice, peas, rice bran, chicken fat
    (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), menhaden fish
    meal, dried beet pulp (sugar removed), tapioca, natural flavors, pea
    protein, dried eggs, flaxseed, canola oil, potassium chloride, salt,
    choline chloride, DL-methionine, L-Lysine, blueberries, cranberries,
    apples, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, spinach, lecithin, taurine,
    L-carnitine, mixed Tocopherols, rosemary extract, Vitamin A supplement,
    Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous
    sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate,
    calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride,
    riboflavin supplement, L-ascorbyl 2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C
    activity), zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate,
    calcium iodate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, Vitamin B12
    supplement, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried
    Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus
    casei fermentation product, yucca schidigera extract.

  • Hi Conniel,

    Unfortunately, I cannot locate complete product information (ingredients and nutritional data) for Free Hand Dog Food on a company-operated website. So, I’m currently unable to review this brand. If you find a link, please be sure to send me a message via my Contact link in the footer of this page.

    Thanks for taking the time to make this suggestion.

  • Conniel

    Hi Mike, thank you so much for all your efforts to help us understand the importance of good quality dog food. There is a new brand of dog food I would like to request you to review. FreeHand is new to the market and is doing a one for one program donating one bag of food to shelters and rescues for every bag you buy. I love this concept and hope they are immensely successful but I also want to make sure they are highly rated before I switch. Are you aware of this new company and can you please review it?

  • Hi Ellen… I currently do not track cat food. And in any case, I cannot provide customized product recommendations for each reader. For more information, please check be sure to check back for a possible response from one of our other readers. Wish I could be more help.

  • Ellen M.

    We have been feeding our senior kitty Prescription a/d pet food for a couple of months, but now that his appetite is increasing, we are hoping to find a food that’s less of a financial burden. Are you familiar with a bioequivalent alternative?

  • Hi Pamela… Variety Dog Food is already on my To Do list. However, due to my current backlog of products for review, it could be a while longer before I get to it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Pamela

    This is an addition to my previous post on Variety Pet Foods. I feed my dog about 1-2 tablespoons once a day mixed with Harmony Farms dry kibble. Here is the guaranteed analysis and AAFCO nutrient profile of Grandma’s Casserole:

    Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min.) 8.0%; Crude Fat (min.) 6.0%; Crude Fiber (max.) 1.3%; Moisture (max.) 78%
    Grandma’s Casserole is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth and maintenance.

  • Pamela

    Hi, I hoped you could give me some insight into the quality of a wet food my Lhasa Apso loves. It’s by Variety Pet Foods out of Englewood, Colorado. Here is the ingredient list from the Grandma’s casserole:

    Grandma’s Casserole
    Juicy beef, with savory broth, whole brown rice, carrots, sweet potatoes & garden peas

    Natural with added vitamins and minerals

    Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Beef Liver, Cracked Barley, Ground Brown Rice, Whole Brown Rice, Carrots, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas, Egg Product, Guar Gum, Flaxseed Meal, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Carrageenan Gum, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Chloride, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid.

  • Jonathan

    Josh, yes we know all about synthetic vitamin k.

    But as far as the ppm, that is only 42 mg/kg. 50 mg of Chondroitin Sulfate per 40 pounds of body weight is the minimum recommended amount for therapeutic gain IN ONE DOSE.

    42 mg/kg means the dog only gets this dose for every kilogram of food he eats. So if you have an 80lb dog, he needs to eat 2 kilograms of food a day to have a significant dose of this.

    I have a 70lb dog… and she certainly does not eat 4.5 pounds of food a day.

    It’s fine that those amounts are in there, but for a dog that needs the Glucosamine and Chondroitin, you would still need to add a supplement.

  • Josh

    Jonathan, 42ppm is significant. I believe that would be a reading of 42000ng/mL, where anything above 100ng/mL will most definitely have an effect on the body’s chemistry. Chondroitin Sulfate is believed to help with cartilage, which is important in dogs with joint problems. ppm is 10^-6g/mL if you were curious.

    Did you know? menadione supplements are banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of their potential toxicity.

    Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfite is allowed for use in poultry feed with a percentage of no more than .0000022%, which is very low. I’m not sure what the regulations are on dog food, but I’m assuming those regulations account for it being the second to last ingredient.

  • Hi Jonathan… Not bad. Looks like a 3.5 to me. This dog food would rate fairly well were it not for the menadione. When I find menadione, I prefer to err to the lower rating. Good call, Jonathan.

  • Jonathan

    “Chondroitin Sulfate Min 42 ppm*,”

    Lol! What is that suppose to do? ppm’s for cryin out loud.

  • Jonathan

    Total Performance Chicken
    Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Cooked Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a natural source of Vitamin E), Dried Egg Product, Rice Flour, Ground Barley, Whole Ground Sorghum, Whole Ground Millet, Catfish Meal, Beet Pulp, Brewers Dried Yeast, Chicken Liver Meal, Oat Meal, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a natural source of vitamin E), Dried Whole Carrots, Dried Whole Celery, Whole Ground Flax Seed, Lecithin (source of omega 6 fatty acids), l-Lysine, Sea Salt, dl-Methionine, Monosodium Phosphate, Fructooligosaccharide, Potassium Chloride, Dried Whole Beets, Dried Whole Parsley, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, l-Carnitine, Chondroitin Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Beta Carotene, Ferrous Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid (source of vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Inositol, Niacin Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Copper Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Iodate (source of iodine), Manganous Oxide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfite (source of vitamin K activity), Folic Acid.

    Guaranteed Analysis
    Crude Protein Min 27 %, Crude Fat Min 15%, Crude Fiber Max 3.0%, Moisture Max 10%, Ash Max 5.75%, Calcium Min 0.90%, Phosphorous Min 0.72%, Vitamin E Min 200 IU/kg, l-Carnitine Min 105mg/kg*, Omega 6 Fatty Acids Min 2.95 %*, Omega 3 Fatty Acids Min 0.50 %*, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Min 185 mg/kg*, Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Min 1100 mg/kg*, Glucosamine Min 400 mg/kg*, Chondroitin Sulfate Min 42 ppm*, Fructooligosaccharide Min 701 mg/kg*.

    Looks like a three star food to me. Synthetic k in no good, but otherwise, okay. What you think, Mike?

  • Hi Johnny… No, we don’t currently have any information on Total Performance Dog Food in our database. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  • johnny bartsch

    do you have any info on total preformance dog food made in broomfield colorado?
    thanks johnny

  • Rachel

    This is precisely why I love CaniSource – they actually tell you the percentage of meat in their recipe! 70%! if only they all would do that. I believe Orijen discloses the amount of meat as well, and so does Addiction Raw Dehydrated (45-50%).

  • Hi Ruth… I understand your frustration. We all love our dogs and we wish only the best for them. It’s difficult for any of us “consumers” to say with any degree of medical certainty what could be causing what appears to be an epidemic of serious disease.

    Is it the food? Is it the environment? Is it the breeding? The genes?

    In any case, at least food-wise, I’d recommend avoiding products tainted with synthetic preservatives and chemicals. We try to catch these unwelcome compounds in our reviews. But it’s easy (even for us) to miss something.

  • Ruth Stoneking

    We just had to put our Son’s dog down last week, and she was only 10 years old. She was a Beautiful Rott/Border Collie mix. She died of a mass on her liver. She was the 4th dog that had to be put down because of liver problems. The last 3 had liver disease. I don’t think this is just a coincidence as we had 3 dogs before that who lived longer healthier lives some to almost 14. My husband raised hunting dogs when he was growing up and never had these problems. Do you think it is the food, the shots that we have to give them every year, or what? It just saddens me to think of all the years we have lost with our beloved dogs because something is not being done right or because Companies don’t care, they are just greedy, or they think they can get away with this because they are Just Animals. Our dogs were our Babies, and we have 2 more now, and I’m scared to death that they will get liver disease or cancer too. What can we do to keep them healthy?

  • Hi Lynn… I can sense your frustration in your words. I know how you feel. The good news is that many pet owners successfully feed homemade meals to their pets daily… with similar stories of success like yours. I plan to address the topic of homemade dog food as soon as I can. In the meantime, I’m pleased to report that (thankfully) not every dog food company produces such inferior products. There are a number of conscientious manufacturers out there that consistently produce excellent dog food. I’ll be sharing those brands with my readers when I begin to publish my product ratings very soon… maybe next month. So, stay tuned.

  • lynn

    now after reading this report. i will make my beloved pets own food. and add trace mineral, vitamins, and bone meal and i know they will be much safer than eating junk that could kill them … i will not pay any company to kill. i want my pets safe,healthy, and happy. this is so shocking. i had a dog that lived 22 years and i made her food i tried every food on the market she would throw up.. that should have told me something.she was around when i had my first child and still home when the child went off to college. didn’t put it together until while reading and thinking back.. after all that was 17 years i wont pay these pet food companies to kill my pets.i just worry a yorkie couldn’t handle home w/ low blood sugar.i would love to get more info on all this mess of pet food and what we can do. i spend over 500.00 a month on my little pets.just in their food alone.just think of all the idots like me and the amount of monies these companies must be making on junk that kills!!!!!and i have very small babies that get sick much faster than a large dog.i am just sick and worried all at the same time. IS… there any answer to all of this? i am so very worried two little babies aren’t just dogs to me. is it safe to make home made dog food it was w/ my large dog she lived 22 years and she was a breed that was to only live about 10 years. lynn

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