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Think You Know What’s in Your Dog’s Food? Hint: You Don’t.


You work your fingers to the bone to afford the best for your family – and by family, of course, we mean your dog.  You spend extra to get her great quality food and you take the time to read the dog food labels to avoid the junk (what the heck is Glyceryl Monostearate anyway)?  But are you really getting what you pay for?

What’s In There?

Uh, no. A recent study by industrious undergrad student Tara Okuma at Chapman University analyzed pet foods to identify “meat species” included in the food, and compared what was in the food to what was shown on the label. How you might ask was this done? It’s very CSI – “DNA was extracted from each product and tested for the presence of eight meat species: beef, goat, lamb, chicken, goose, turkey, pork, and horse.”

“Meat Ingredient that Could Not Be Verified”?

Out of the 51 foods tested, 20 were mislabeled (13 mislabeled dog foods and 7 cat foods). Most of the mislabeled foods included added “meat species” that were omitted from the label (usually pork), 3 included a “meat species” substituted for another (such as chicken in place of beef), and one contained a “non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified”, which sounds duly ominous.  Ferret, bear, wildebeest? We’ll never know. None of the foods included horse meat, so there’s that at least.

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Science Says

But you might say, “Science schmience, what’s it ever done for me anyway?”  Fair enough, but we also hear about the ingredient problem from the real source of knowledge in America – a lawsuit.  The spat between Blue Buffalo and Purina focused on what the Blue Buffalo ingredients actually are.  Blue Buffalo, which claimed its food “never has chicken (or poultry) by-product meals”, acknowledged that it actually did include chicken by-product meal (think ground up chicken necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, spleens, etc.) in its food, because of a distributor mistake.  Of course, keep in mind that our dog friends fancy poop straight out of the cat box, so a little spleen might not seem so bad all things considered.

Keep focused on LuckyPetStore Learn to learn about pet food news and issues. We’ll keep you updated about recalls and ingredient issues. And find a huge selection of pet foods from hundreds of online stores at


  3. Tara A. Okuma, Rosalee S. Hellberg. Identification of meat species in pet foods using a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Food Control, 2015:50:9 DOI.