The Dog Food Advisor was born out of tragedy when Dr. Mike Sagman’s dog, Penny, died in 2007. She’d been eating a food that was part of the U.S.’s biggest and most infamous pet food recall.
This site was created to shine a light on not only the varying quality of dog food, but also the safety of its production — which is why we record every dog food recall and have a free dog food recall alert service.
It goes without saying that some manufacturers are better at food safety than others. We asked Braeden Ruud, the co-founder and CEO of Raised Right, a 5-star-rated dog and cat food brand — and a company seen by many as setting the gold standard for pet food safety — to tell us how the best dog food brands make dog food safely and avoid recalls.
Here’s what he told us…
The Ruud family’s roots in farming and ranching date back centuries. While raising food for humans, we decided it was time to provide the same quality of food for pets. We were motivated by the same, deadly 2007 outbreak that caused Mike to create The Dog Food Advisor.
Our family wanted to create a company that pet parents can trust by placing a strong emphasis on safety, transparency, and nutrition. Thus, Raised Right was born and this human-grade dog food company is now viewed by many pet nutrition experts as the industry leader in food safety.
The Human-Grade Standard
Most of the dog food on the market today isn’t produced to the same standards as the food that we eat as humans. In order for a company to claim its dog food is human-grade, every ingredient and the resulting product must be stored, handled, produced, and transported in a manner consistent and compliant with human food laws.
Each ingredient must pass the higher standards needed for human consumption and the food must be made in a USDA-inspected human-grade facility that is also registered as both an FDA animal food facility and an FDA human food facility.
Lab Safety Batch Testing
Testing the food for pathogens like E.coli, listeria, and salmonella is a very important step for food safety. Some companies test each batch they produce, some perform random testing every few months, and some don’t test at all. There are companies who choose to perform the testing themselves, whereas others feel it’s more ethical to have a third-party laboratory do the testing because this prevents any chance of corruption from happening.
Not only do we implement rapid swab testing for pathogens during each production run, but the finished product from every single batch we make goes to a third-party lab to be tested for pathogens too.
Additionally, we have a hold-release program where we don’t ever ship our food unless it passes the lab safety test. It’s one thing to test for pathogens, but it’s another thing to make sure the food doesn’t get released to the market before the test results are received.
To prevent a problem before it becomes one, companies can implement such a program, where each batch of food doesn’t leave their facility until they receive the negative test results. This way, if a batch ever tests positive for pathogens, the company can dispose of it before it ever leaves their facility and, more importantly, before any dog eats it.
Nutritional Analysis Testing
While it’s important to make sure the food you’re feeding your dog is made as safely as possible, it’s also important to know that the food contains the nutrients necessary to meet AAFCO’s standards for a complete & balanced diet.
AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) is a non-profit organization that sets standards for both animal feeds and pet foods in the United States. Since it’s very challenging to meet AAFCO’s nutritional requirements, dog food companies work with veterinarians and pet food formulation experts to help them formulate their recipes.
While most dog foods are formulated using computer software that contains the nutritional data of each ingredient to balance the recipes, some companies go a step further and do nutritional analysis testing on their finished product to prove that their formulation method works.
We’re the first company to voluntarily submit a recipe to be tested by Check Your Pet Food. The results from testing our Original Turkey Adult Dog Recipe showed that the guaranteed analysis matches our label and that the nutritional analysis meets AAFCO’s standards for a complete and balanced diet for adult dogs through using only whole foods without having to add any synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Transparency breeds trust, but it also makes brands raise standards. If they’re going to be open about their ingredients and lab results, then these need to be of the highest quality.
Raised Right chooses to openly post the test results from each batch on our website for everyone to see, along with a video showing how our foods get made. There is also an interactive map where you can trace each ingredient to its source so you know where the ingredients in your dog’s bowl are coming from.