Premium, Gourmet or Natural Dog Food… Really?

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Premium, gourmet or natural… are these words you can trust on a dog food label?
Woman Using a Magnifier to Read a Dog Food Label

Or are they simply exaggerated claims designed to influence your purchase decision?

Each and every day, agricultural waste declared unfit for human consumption finds its way into commercial dog food.

Just take a look at these dreadful yet perfectly legal ingredients:


Obviously, dog food companies know that raw materials like these couldn’t possibly help sell their products. Can you imagine buying a product called…

“Slaughterhouse Waste Dog Food”

Wouldn’t sell very well, would it?

Yet that’s precisely why some pet food companies invest millions of dollars each year creating misleading packaging… packaging intentionally designed to deceive you.

To distract you from what’s really in their products.

That’s why it’s crucial to not allow yourself to be tricked by dog food packaging. Or by the extravagant words used to inflate the apparent value of a product.

Be Wary of the Seductive Words
‘Premium’ or ‘Gourmet’

For most of us, when shopping for any food product, it’s difficult to resist one labeled “premium” or “gourmet”.

Am I right?

Well, dog food companies know this. So, they intentionally use words like these to dupe us into believing their product is superior to other competing brands.

If you’re like me, you’ll be shocked to discover the FDA has no regulations or guidelines to protect consumers from misleading claims of superiority like these.

FDA labeling guidelines1 state…

“Products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products.”

But What About Natural Dog Food?

OK, so you think the word “natural” might be an exception? Right?

Well, think again.

The word “natural” actually has no official meaning. That same FDA document2 continues…

“The term ‘natural’ is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition either.”

However, the FDA does recognize the decisive AAFCO3 definition of ‘natural’ by elaborating…

“For the most part, ‘natural’ can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product.”

Where to Find the Only Information
You Can Reliably Trust

On a pet food package, the legal truth can be found in one place. And one place only. The government-regulated portion of the label.

And nowhere else.

For this reason, we never blindly trust the pictures on the bag… or the words premium, gourmet or natural when we judge dog food.

Nor should you.

  1. FDA Pet Food Labels, Updated March 2010
  2. Ibid.
  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials