In recent years, more consumers have placed a greater emphasis on natural diets with clean ingredients, choosing fresh and organic options over heavily processed goods. These trends in human dieting have influenced a new generation of health conscious pet parents who are seeking higher quality foods for their pets. This demand has given rise to human grade pet foods, a steadily emerging category that continues to soar in popularity.
With new brands entering the space frequently and with so many options already available on the market, navigating the world of “human grade” pet food can be challenging. Here, we provide high-level guidance for pet parents and highlight some of our top picks for human grade dog food brands.
- Best Human Grade Dog Food Delivery: Ollie
- Best Human Grade Air-Dried Dog Food: Sundays for Dogs
- Best Human Grade Dry Dog Food: Open Farm
- Best Human Grade Wet Dog Food: Caru
- Best Shelf-Stable Human Grade Dog Food: Just Food For Dogs
- Best Dehydrated Human Grade Dog Food: The Honest Kitchen
- Best Grain-Free Human Grade Dog Food: Portland Pet Food Company
What Is Human Grade Dog Food?
The pet food industry is loosely regulated, and what is currently deemed safe and suitable for animals by government agencies, in terms of how ingredients are handled and manufactured, differs from how food is deemed safe for human consumption. The term “human grade” looks to provide clarity by using the FDA’s human standards for food ingredient safety and applying them to the ingredients within your pet’s food.
Human grade dog food is available in fresh, wet, dry, canned, or even freeze-dried options. Human grade does not mean that the product is designed or intended for use by humans or that a product is nutritious for both humans and pets. It simply means that all of the ingredients are supposed to be handled and processed in a manner consistent with foods that eventually wind up on the plates of humans.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has strict guidelines and testing standards on what constitutes a safe and nutritious pet food, including being unadulterated. The term “human grade” may have a certain implication, but the organization notes that this label doesn’t actually have a bearing on the overall safety of a pet food product, and that its own standards of pet food testing should be used.
Is Human Grade Food Good for Dogs?
Just because you see the term “human grade” on the packaging does not automatically mean a pet food is nutritious. However, when properly used, human-grade claims can offer the assurance of cleaner ingredients than traditional pet foods. If the food does not follow human food safety regulations, and all of the ingredients are not fit for human consumption, then the product is misbranded.
Human Grade Dog Food: What to Look For
In your quest for the best human grade dog food, perhaps the most important thing to look for is a statement of nutritional adequacy that indicates the food has met the minimum safety and nutrition standards put out by AAFCO.
Beyond the label, pet parents can also evaluate brands individually by looking for:
- Preferred format (dry, wet, freeze-dried, etc.)
- Transparency in ingredient sourcing and manufacturing
- Supporting research that touts the food’s benefits
- Positive reviews from other pet parents
7 Best Human Grade Dog Food Brands to Consider
All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The market has no shortage of human grade pet food products, or at least products labeled as such. To help pet parents, we’ve rounded up some of the top brands we’ve found in the space.
Best Human Grade Dog Food Delivery
Our pick: Ollie
Ollie offers fresh, human grade dog food tailored to meet your pet’s nutritional needs, with recipes that feature real chicken, beef, turkey, or lamb as the first ingredient. Other ingredients include leafy greens, root veggies, and plant-based proteins. What separates Ollie from the competition is their personalization and convenient delivery service. To get started, you’ll need to take a short quiz about your pet. Within two weeks, you will receive a starter box with meals selected based on your pet’s age, weight, breed, activity level, and allergies or sensitivities.
- Vet-approved recipes are gently cooked in U.S. facilities at low temperatures
- Personalized meal plans
- Seamless customer service and delivery
- No fillers, by-products, artificial flavors, or preservatives
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages
Things to Consider
- Available in four flavor options, but turkey is out of stock due to supply chain issues
- Fresh food requires storage considerations, like refrigeration or freezing
Sample buyer review: “I can’t express how much our dog loves this food. She was feeling very indifferent about her dry food so I finally pulled the plug and got Ollie. She now gets SO excited when she realizes it’s meal time, she practically inhales all of her food, and then goes back to lick the bowl four or five times. She acts happier, more balanced, and more vibrant, and we love feeling so good knowing she is getting real, high quality nutrition that she clearly needs and loves. Never going back to kibble!” —Allison J
Best Human Grade Air-Dried Dog Food
Our pick: Sundays for Dogs
Use code GREAT25 and get 25% off your first purchase
Imagine if you could reap the benefits of feeding your dog a raw or home-cooked diet but without the hassle of food prep and cleanup. Enter Sundays for Dogs, a gently air-dried dog food that features all-natural, human-grade ingredients. This alternative to kibble is not only healthier and tastier, it’s shelf stable and ready to eat. Choose from beef or chicken recipes that feature over 90 percent fresh meat, organ and bones, rounded out by wholesome grains and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies. Even the pickiest dogs will find the jerky-like texture and taste of this food irresistible. And if your dog has a sensitive stomach, you can rest assured knowing it contains digestive aids like pumpkin and ginger. The food is also high in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids from natural sources like fish oil and flaxseed to support your dog’s skin and coat health. What more could you and your pup need?
- Created by a small animal vet, Dr. Tory Waxman
- Offers complete and balanced nutrition with no synthetic vitamins or minerals
- No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- No gluten, legumes, wheat, soy, rice, corn, potatoes, or meat meals
- Made in a USDA-monitored kitchen and 100% human-grade
- Personalized feeding instructions provided
- Available in regular (40 oz), medium (70 oz), and large (144 oz) boxes
- Subscribe and save 20%
- Beef recipe meets AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages, while the chicken recipe is for adult maintenance
- Free shipping and 100% satisfaction guarantee
Things to Consider
- Currently only two recipes to choose from: beef or chicken
- Store in a cool dark place and finish within 8 weeks of opening for best flavor
- Since this food is roughly twice as dense as kibble, you’ll only need to feed about half of what you’re used to (approximately ¼ cup per day per 10 pounds of your dog’s body weight). Follow personalized feeding instructions that come with the box
- Puppies and pregnant or nursing adults may require 2-4 times the adult feeding amounts
- Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water
Sample buyer review: “Toby used to barely touch his old food, and if he did, it wasn’t till late at night. Now that we switched to Sundays, I can barely put the bowl down before he’s going at it. It’s such a relief that he’s excited to eat now. It also seems like he’s more energetic (in a good way!) and I swear he’s been shedding less since the switch. On top of all of that, the customer experience and service has been top-notch. Can not recommend enough. Dogs deserve to love their food, too!”
Best Human Grade Dry Dog Food
Our pick: Open Farm
Open Farm’s transparency and commitment to ethically sourcing ingredients separates it from competitors. Its dry foods top this list as an excellent human grade dog food option for pet parents seeking the ease and convenience that come along with storing and serving dry foods. Available in multiple flavors, such as homestead chicken, grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, and New Zealand venison, their recipes also come with or without grains. Open Farm’s high-protein dry food recipes provide a solution for even the pickiest of canine diners.
- Variety of flavors to choose from, with meat or fish as the first ingredient
- Available in grain-free varieties or with ancient grains
- Rounded out with non-GMO fruits, veggies, and superfoods
- Commitment to humanely, sustainably sourced ingredients that are 100 percent traceable
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages
- Available in 4.5-, 12-, or 24-pound bags
Things to Consider
- Relatively expensive compared to typical pet food prices
- Packaging is recyclable but only through Terracycle
Sample buyer review: “Great dog food. Our very and I mean very picky Chihuahua is able to eat this dry food by itself. Over the years, we have purchased grain free, organic, free-range, holistic, human grade, vegan, wet food/dry food, Canadian brands…you name it…and he has always had trouble consuming the same food for more than a week. SO FAR, this dog food is the ONLY dry dog food that we have been able to serve TOPPING FREE that he’ll actually consume!” —Thegameoflife
Best Human Grade Wet Dog Food
Our pick: Caru
Caru stands out from competitors as a family-oriented brand that doesn’t over-complicate its human grade dog food offering. The brand is mainly focused on providing flavorful wet stew options for dogs and cats, which can be used either as a complete meal or a meal topper. The simplicity of the product is a thing of beauty, and the brand’s no-frills approach to pet nutrition backed with purpose make it a top option to consider for pet parents.
- Slow-cooked in small batches with responsibly sourced ingredients
- Serve as a complete and balanced meal or a topper
- No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Also free of wheat, gluten, corn, soy, or animal by-products
- Made in the USA
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for maintenance
Things to Consider
- Serving size will depend on your pet’s weight and whether fed alone or with dry dog food
- Can be gently heated
Sample buyer review: “Can’t tell you how it tastes but my dog sure loves it. As soon as I opened the box that held all the individual boxes she was right there with her nose checking it out. When she sees me getting a box for her dinner she is right there licking her dog lips.” —Michigan K.
Best Shelf-Stable Human Grade Dog Food
Our pick: Just Food For Dogs
Just Food For Dogs is committed to providing fresh food options for pets using human grade ingredients like chicken breast and thighs, ground turkey, and lamb heart. Aside from their fresh frozen recipes, the brand also has a PantryFresh line that provides convenience without sacrificing quality. Cooked in a USDA kitchen without feed-grade ingredients or preservatives, these recipes are shelf-stable for up to two years and come ready to serve, making the choice to go fresh even easier.
- Variety of flavors, including chicken, turkey, beef, or lamb
- Delivery convenience and standout customer service
- Also available in veterinary support recipes, such as Joint & Skin Support, Balanced Remedy, Renal Support Low Protein, and Critical Care Support
- Regular recipes meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages; veterinary support recipes meet nutrient profiles for maintenance
Things to Consider
- Refrigerate after opening
- A 12.5-oz package costs over $6 and feeds up to a 22- or 25-pound dog per day
- Veterinary support recipes come at a higher price
Sample buyer review: “My senior dog had pancreatitis this year and is not supposed to eat regular dog food anymore. I was cooking chicken and veg for him, but he stopped eating it. I tried multiple foods, but he would always stop eating them after a week. I tried Just Food For Dogs Joint and Skin Support because it had a low fat content. He won’t eat it every day, but most days it is all he will eat. He has been eating it for a couple of months now.” —TBFisher
Best Dehydrated Human Grade Dog Food
Our pick: The Honest Kitchen
The Honest Kitchen was one of the first brands to help pioneer the human grade movement, and did so with one aim: improving our pet’s health. Their dehydrated food selection delivers on the brand’s promise to deliver good food sourced with simple, clean ingredients. Choose from recipes like whole grain chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. They also offer grain-free and limited-ingredient options.
- Available in a variety of proteins, like chicken, turkey, beef, or fish
- Minimally processed whole foods; no preservatives or fillers
- Easy to store and use
- Available in 2-, 4-, 7- and 10-pound boxes, as well as 1.75-oz cups. To put things into perspective, a 10-pound box makes about 40-pounds of food
- Complete and balanced for puppies and adults
- Made in the USA with U.S. and globally sourced ingredients
Things to Consider
- You’ll need to mix the dehydrated food with warm water, stir and wait 3 minutes, then serve
- Serving size will depend on your dog’s age, weight and activity level
- Price point is a little high
Sample buyer review: “This is the primary brand of food I have fed my German Shepherd/Collie mix for the last 8 years, and she is hands down the healthiest senior dog I know. Two days before her 10th birthday when I told someone she was 10 they assumed I meant 10 months because she runs like the wind and bounces around like a puppy.” —ChenP
Best Grain-Free Human Grade Dog Food
Our pick: Portland Pet Food Company
For dogs with food sensitivities, Portland Pet Food Company’s selection of grain-free pet meal toppers and treats could provide a good solution for pet parents. The Pacific Northwest-based company sources only all-natural human grade ingredients locally, and has a steady reputable offering that can suit even the pickiest of eaters. Their ready-to-eat meal pouches come in savory flavors like pork and potato or turkey and yams, and their biscuits are available in pumpkin, bacon, or gingerbread flavors.
- Shelf-stable homestyle meals and toppers
- Transparent and ethical ingredient sourcing from within the USA
- Contains no meat by-products, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, or supplements
- Pouches are shelf-stable for two years, microwavable, earth-friendly, and BPA free
- 5 percent of net profits go to local non-profit animal shelters and programs
Things to Consider
- Meals are just shy of meeting AAFCO requirements to be considered “full and balanced,” so talk to your veterinarian to see if these meals are a good fit for your individual dog
- One 9-oz meal pouch is nearly $7, but you can take advantage of subscribe and save options or get more bang for your buck with variety packs
- Portion size will vary based on your dog’s age, size, and activity level
- To recycle pouches, you need to request a recycling envelope and send it to TerraCycle with a prepaid shipping label; the Portland Pet Food Company site says this program is currently unavailable
Sample buyer review: “I’ve tried everything ‘human natural’ available that comes in slices, lumps, floating in liquid, pastes, kibble, and none do the trick with my picky princess. So far this is the only food she will consider. Shih Tzus are opinionated and stubborn and like what they like. My puppy does not like food that will get her lips or fur dirty and this food meets her criteria of clean eating. To me the food appearance is very good and tasty looking. I order the variety pack because she does not like the same food taste week after week. She has an open spirit, high vitality, and is otherwise undemanding, kind, and well behaved.” —Nicky