A series of educational pet nutrition blogs written by pet experts, just for pet parents.

Diving into Raw vs. Human Grade Pet Food

Posted on 01.26.2024

For many of us, pets aren’t just ‘like’ family – they are family. Just like with your human family members, you want to know what’s in the food you are serving up at meal-time. 

This is where the appeal of “raw” and “human grade” pet foods shines for some parents, as the minimal-ingredient recipes and lover levels of heat processing allow for more intact nutrients.

However, the terms “raw” and “human grade” themselves can be confusing to many pet owners who are just learning about the different options on the market. 

Why “raw” for my pets, and how is it safe?

A “raw” pet food diet essentially consists of uncooked, unprocessed food. Typically, commercial raw food diets for dogs, like ones available through brands like Stella & Chewy’s, are formulated to mirror a dog’s ancestral diet with 85-95% meat, bone and organs, and a higher moisture content than other commercially processed pet food diets. The intact nutrients can help support whole body health for your dog or cat. 

When selling certified “raw” foods, safety precautions are put in place by the providers to make sure that all raw foods are fit for consumption. Stella & Chewy’s utilizes high-pressure processing— a cold water pressure process that effectively eliminates harmful bacteria and pathogens from the food while still maintaining the benefits of the raw ingredients. These include: 

  • Healthy teeth & gums: Ground bone works as a mild abrasive to help remove plaque and natural enzymes work chemically in your pet’s mouth to promote delta health.

  • Healthy digestion: Minimally processed raw foods digest more gently and efficiently, and are gentler on some dogs tummies. The minimal amount of ingredients can also be beneficial for dogs with allergies. 

  • Vibrant skin & coat: The natural oils and omega fatty acids in raw foods help support healthy skin and a shiny coat.

  • Stamina & vitality: A strong inclusion of meat organs, and ground bone support lean strong muscles.

Stella & Chewy’s has multiple different raw recipes and formulas for pets, including in Raw Frozen Dinner Patties, and Raw-Coated Kibble and Biscuits.

What does “human grade pet food” actually mean?

For many years, there were very few regulations around the terms applied to pet foods, but that has changed in recent years. The Association of American Feed Control Officials states in their most recent 2023 guidelines that human-grade dog food:

  • Human grade refers to the entire product and every ingredient in it. 

  • All facilities involved with processing a human grade pet food product must be registered as both an FDA food facility and an FDA feed facility.

A Pup Above, a pet food company launched in 2018 with a focus on creating nutritious and delicious dog food, utilizes a sous-vide cooking method for their human grade, Gently Cooked Dog Food. All their brand's recipes and food options prioritize all-natural meats and no antibiotics, and are cooked slowly and evenly to retain nutrition and freshness. A Pup Above also tests every batch of food to ensure there are no pathogens before anything is shipped out. 

Human grade dog food stands out for being minimally-processed, high-protein, low-carb, nutrient-dense and made from whole ingridients. When making the switch to human-grade food, many pet owners report improvements in an array of issues due to a good diet containing meat protein, collagen and omegas that can soothe inflammation and support joint, bone, skin and coat health. 

Regardless of any decision, it's always important for pet parents to keep in touch with their veterinarian to routinely discuss their pet’s health and diet, especially as their needs or wants may change over time. Knowing the trademarks of "raw" and "human grade" foods can help owners feel equipped with the proper knowledge to consider all food options for their furry family members. 

Looking for help with getting started in your food switch? Stop into your local Treats Unleashed for a free pet food consultation to determine which food works best for your pet.

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