Choosing dog food for your pet can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. Not only do you need to know where a food is made, but you must know where its ingredients are sourced and where the food is manufactured. For example, dog food made in USA may be manufactured in this country, but the ingredients could come from other regions of the world.
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Due to differences in pet food manufacturing regulations in every country, many pet owners rightly seek brands made in areas with strictest laws, Europe and USA for example. But here’s what you must know about dog food made in USA, what this term really means, and which brands are actually made in America as opposed to simply being marketed as such.
“Made in USA” Dog Food
As a dog owner, when you read the phrase “made in the USA”, you likely interpret that to mean that a food is USA sourced (meaning the ingredients that the food is made with come from the USA as well). Based on Federal Trade Commission’s USA Made standards, AAFCO describes “Made in USA” pet food labeling:
“…all or virtually all” means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So just putting together ingredients in the US is not enough. Additionally, just getting ingredients from a broker within the US is not enough. If ingredients are imported, then it is very difficult to justify the use of the phrase “Made in the USA.”
So, to assume that a dog food with a “Made in the USA” label is made with ingredients of US origin is not unreasonable, according to what FTC and AAFCO encourages pet food manufacturers and companies to do. But as it happens, the AAFCO has no actual regulatory authority. AAFCO regulations are merely used as a “guideline” for pet food companies to follow in order to have their products licensed by the state in which they’re sold, and FTC is known for caring very little about the pet food manufacturing laws.
This means that dog foods that are labeled as “Made in the USA” are “put together” in the USA, but that the parts that are “put together” aren’t necessarily of US origin. So how can you be sure that the food you are giving your dog does contain only ingredients that were sourced in the United States? As many pet owners might have already found out, it takes a lot of legwork to find actual dog food Made in USA brands.
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The “Dog Food Made in USA” Label
Dog Food Ingredient Sourcing
If you are looking for an “All American” dog food brand, you need to trace the source of the ingredients being used in the food first. You cannot trust a “Made in America” label, because the FTC hasn’t been cracking down hard enough on companies loosely using this term to improve their sales. And this is not exclusive to pet food industry, either.
Pet food companies understand the value of “Made in USA” label and have been taking advantage of it for years now. Since 2015, politicians have been encouraging FTC to allocate more resources on investigating these claims but to no avail. Thus, pet owners are left to do their own research and investigation when searching for dog food Made in USA brands where not just manufacturing but ingredients are sourced in America as well.
Finding the source of ingredients, however, is far from simple.
Dog food companies that claim “dog food made in USA” often intentionally mislead customers to think that their ingredients are also sourced in the US. They do this by slapping the “Made in America” stamp on their bag and adding claims like “No ingredients sourced in China” or “Responsibly sourced ingredients” as a distraction.
These claims are designed to put your mind at ease, yet they tell you nothing about where ingredients were sourced. Consumers tired of pet food companies tricking them into buying fake “Made in USA” foods have previously filed lawsuits against well-known brands for fake labels. Companies named in several of these lawsuits include J.M. Smuckers, Nestle Purina Petcare and Merrick Pet Care, Fromm, and Tyson Foods.
Very few companies offer full disclosure of where their ingredients are sourced. And these companies will go above and beyond to hide the origin of their ingredients. In fact, as I called around trying to find out ingredient sourcing details, I was regularly told by their customer service: “We’re sorry, that’s proprietary information.”
As it turns out, I’m not the only one who has been met with such evasive answers. The Association for Truth in Pet Food was grown out of similar frustrations, and they have set out to get all pet food companies to sign a pledge to fully disclose their ingredient sourcing information.
To date, there are only a small number of pet food companies that have been willing to sign this pledge and disclose where their dog food ingredients are coming from. Most of them are smaller pet food companies grown out of distrust of the commercial pet food industry, and those that have nothing to hide. Majority of companies are still hiding in the shadows, and will remain there until FTC starts cracking down on them.
This is where the pet owners’ “leg work” I referenced above comes in. Which dog foods are made, sourced, and packed in the USA? After many days of active research (and technically, some years of studying the pet food industry), I’ve managed to compile a list of 12 dog food made in USA brands. Spoiler: don’t expect to see any of the well-known dog food brand names you remember from commercials.
Cost: $29.99 per 14 oz. bag
TruDog is a family owned pet food company based in the Midwest. TruDog’s founder, Lori R. Taylor, turned to raw feeding to give her dogs better quality food. Lori soon found the inconvenience of feeding raw to be too much, though, and in her search for something simpler, she developed TruDog.
TruDog is a freeze-dried food that contains all of the nutrition of raw feeding without the mess. This premium food is made with US sourced meats and contains no grains, no fillers, no added salt, no sugars, no refined carbohydrates, no by-products, and no chemicals.
All ingredients in TruDog’s dog food lineup are sourced and packaged in the US. All cattle are free-range and grass-fed, all turkey is US born, raised, and harvested, all bison liver is US sourced, and they only utilize 100% wild Alaskan salmon.
TruDog took the pledge to ensure the quality and disclose the origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
Cost: $8 – $9 per 16 oz. meal
BIOethics specialize in home-cooked dog food that is delivered within the Los Angeles and Orange County area. Foods are minimally processed, made in small batches, use fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as USDA certified meat. You won’t find any artificial preservatives or coloring, by-products or fillers, and no hormone or antibiotic tainted protein.
All ingredients in this dog food made in USA are regional, fresh, human-grade ingredients that are locally sourced and minimally cooked. Each homecooked meal is cooked and packaged in the USA and is hand-delivered to the Orange County, CA area. They hope soon to make their food more widely available.
BIOEthics took the pledge to ensure the quality and disclose the origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
Cost: $46 per 28 lb. bag
Spring Naturals believes in a whole food nutrition approach to feeding pets and incorporate only real meat in their exclusive recipes. Their foods are also all low glycemic formulas designed to extend the life of pets without added carbohydrates and starches.
This dog food made in USA incorporates whole foods, whole grains, whole vegetables, eggs, real mats, whole chickpeas, and green peas. They currently offer a line of whole-grain, grain-free, and organic wet and dry food and treat options. All of their food choices are free from beef/chicken/turkey/lamb/fish meals.
All ingredients in Spring Naturals dinner and treat products are domestically sourced and each product is made in the US. Spring Naturals has not yet taken the pledge to attest to the quality and origin of their ingredients.
Cost: $36 per 14 oz. bag
Small Batch is a family owned company based out of the California Bay region. Their primary goal is focused on providing high-quality nutrition to pets while utilizing local and sustainable ingredients. They are an earth-conscious company that uses only humanely raised and harvested meats and only certified organic and pure ingredients.
Small Batch foods are made using organic vegetables and herbs, meats that are antibiotic free and hormone free, and that use only organic supplements. Their current foods include frozen raw and freeze-dried raw options which are available across the US.
Small Batch is only made with locally sourced ingredients and prepared locally. Currently, Small Batch foods are sourced and manufactured in California, Oregon, and Washington. Foods manufactured in California use only Californian ingredients, foods manufactured in Oregon use only Oregon sourced ingredients, etc. Small Batch has not yet taken the pledge to attest to the quality and origin of their ingredients.
Cost: $22 per 12 oz. bag
Northwest Naturals is dedicated to the highest quality ingredients and manufacturing processes. Based out of Oregon, the company specializes in raw and freeze-dried pet foods that are produced in a USDA/Oregon Tilth/Global Food Safety Initiative Certified facility. Their foods are minimally processed and distributed to independent retailers only to avoid extended storage periods by big name stores.
Northwest Naturals utilize antibiotic free and hormone free poultry, lamb, bison, and beef, as well as wild caught Alaskan salmon in their foods. The beef, bison, and lamb are all grass-fed. Their foods are also free from preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, grains, and gluten.
The ingredients in this dog food made in USA are sourced in the US and all of their foods are manufactured in their family-owned facility in Portland, Oregon. Northwest Naturals are so concerned with their ingredient sourcing that they provide customers with a complete list on their website of the farms they utilize for their protein sources.
One thing to note is that Northwest Naturals sources their lamb from New Zealand and Australia as well as in the US. This company has not yet taken the pledge to attest to the quality and origin of their ingredients.
Cost: $65 per 33 lb. bag
Great Life is dedicated to creating premium dog food that is made with dogs with food intolerances in mind. Great life foods are made using real whole foods, freeze-dried protein, and chelated minerals for optimal absorption.
At this time there are only six formulas of dry food available from Great Life, four grain-free meal options and two brown rice containing formulas.
Great Life dog foods contain no hormones, no potatoes, no corn, no soy, no artificial colors, no additives, no fillers, no by-products and are made with pesticide, steroid, and antibiotic-free ingredients. Most of their foods are also made with a single source protein to provide for dogs with protein intolerance concerns.
All ingredients used in Great Life foods are sourced in the US and they are a company who strive to provide 100% traceability of their ingredients.
Great Life has not yet taken the pledge to attest to the quality and origin of their ingredients.
Cost: $29.99 per 14 oz. bag
Portland Pet Food Company is based in Portland, Oregon. They are a company dedicated to changing the world of pet nutrition as well as animal shelters. Their individual pouch meals are all cooked from scratch and their biscuits are rolled out by hand! Plus 5% of all net profits from this dog food made in the USA are donated to animal shelters and programs dedicated to animal welfare.
All foods made by the Portland Pet Food Company are made out of USDA-approved commercial facilities. In an effort to eliminate the unnecessary filler, every food pouch also contains less than ten ingredients per meal.
Portland Pet Food Company never uses preservatives, by-products, or proteins exposed to hormones. They use all-natural local meats, vegetables, and grains in their foods and only human grade US sourced ingredients that are USDA approved. The packaging used in each pet food pouch is always BPA free and Earth-friendly. Portland Pet Food Company have not yet taken the pledge to attest to the quality and origin of their ingredients.
It’s important to note that Portland Pet Food Company foods are only advised for supplemental feeding since they do not contain additives required by the AAFCO for a food to be considered complete and balanced.
Cost: $169 per 14 lb. variety pack
Lucky Dog Cuisine is a family run business that was born out of the 2008 tainted dog food recalls. The owners of Lucky Dog had been home cooking their dog food for years, but when the mass recalls began, they knew they had to share their recipes. Their foods are built on common sense whole food nutrition and their hope is to someday eliminate kibble feeding altogether.
Lucky Dog Cuisine hand cook their foods in their own kitchens and currently offer seven pre-cooked dog food recipes. These recipes are nutritionally balanced and feature grain-free and gluten-free options. This best dog food made in USA is made without “pet grade” ingredients
All ingredients in Lucky Dog Cuisine are sourced in the US (with the exception of olive oil), and every meal is made with human-grade ingredients. Proteins include only humanely raised grass-fed beef and pork, chemical-free fish, hormone-free turkey, GMO-free fruits and vegetables, and cooking is even done in filtered water!
This company does use olive oil sourced from Italy. Lucky Dog Cuisine took the pledge to the quality and origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
Cost: $99.95 per 8.25 lb.
Frenchie’s Kitchen specializes in home cooked frozen entrees for dogs. Their complete balanced recipes are designed to provide all-natural nutrition for dogs and food that dog parents can trust.
Frenchie’s Kitchen dog foods are made using human-grade ingredients with non-GMO vegetables, use whole food nutrition, and are cooked in a USDA human food facility. Each of the recipes of this dog food made in USA was born out of holistic medicine and every ingredient provides health benefits.
All ingredients in Frenchie’s dog food recipes are sourced in the US. Meals are made using USDA inspected meats and depending on which recipe you choose, they offer gluten-free, grain-free, and no processed grain options. Frenchie’s Kitchen took the pledge to ensure the quality and disclose the origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
Cost: $32 per case of 12 x 13 oz. cans
Pet Tao combines Western veterinary medicine with Eastern food medicine to create a better balance for a healthier life for pets. By choosing food ingredients that work with the body and that optimize how the body functions, Pet Tao is a holistic food solution that meets the needs of every dog.
Pet Tao offers two lines of wet food only, one designed to treat specific health concerns and one to maintain healthy balance. All of these foods are made without additives, preservatives, or fillers and the Solution Zing formula is made with all-natural human-grade ingredients. All ingredients in this dog food made in USA are sourced in the US as well.
Pet Tao took the pledge to ensure the quality and disclose the origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
Cost: $28 per 1 lb. bag
Vital Essentials is a family owned raw and freeze-dried pet food company based out of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dedicated to top quality nutrition, VE produces their foods in a USDA inspected and certified facility which undergoes FDA audits biannually. VE is also a member of the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition.
This dog food made in USA never contains grains, fillers, rendered by-products, or artificial preservatives. VE foods are also gluten-free and have no artificial flavors or colors.
All ingredients in Vital Essentials are sourced from the US and include wild caught fish and USDA certified and inspected animal proteins. VE uses single source proteins and incorporates whole meat, organs, and bones into their recipes. Their food ingredients are lot traceable and contain no synthetic vitamins or minerals.
Vital Essentials took the pledge to the quality and origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
Cost: $29.99 per 14 oz. bag
Steve’s Real Food is a raw pet food company based in Oregon that has been making raw and freeze-dried dog foods since 1998. Focused on nutrition through bioavailability, this dog food made in USA is an eco-conscious company that abides by an 80/20 ratio of meat to fruits, vegetables, and minerals.
Steve’s Real Food is a convenient raw food solution that does not use high-pressure processing or irradiation on their foods. They use no byproducts or fillers, no grains, and no synthetic vitamins or minerals.
All ingredients in Steve’s Real Food are sourced in the US with the exception of their flaxseed. All farms that work with Steve’s are USDA approved and only sell human-grade meats. Steve’s also utilize pesticide-free raw fruits and vegetables, 100% hormone- and antibiotic-free raw meat from humanely raised free-range animals.
This company does source their flaxseed from Canada. Steve’s Real Food took the pledge to ensure the quality and disclose the origin of their ingredients, you can view that pledge here.
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Dog Foods of Note
Some other pet food manufacturers and companies source ingredients inside and outside of the US, but have taken the pet food transparency pledge to ensure quality and report the origin of ingredients. This means that they are willing to be fully transparent about the ingredients that go into their dog food made in USA recipes. Here are all of them:
- Addiction Pet Food
- AllProvide Pet Food
- Answers Pet Food
- Beau’s To Go Pet Food
- Bobcat Raw Pet Food
- Carna4 Pet Food
- Caru Pet Food
- Darwin’s Pet Food
- Harvey’s Pet Food
- Evermore Pet Food
- Farmina Pet Food
- Fresh is Best Pet Food
- The Honest Kitchen Pet Foods
- Just Food for Dogs
- K9 Natural Pet Food
- Maxota Raw Pet Food
- Mountain Dog Food
- Mulligan Stew Pet Food
- My Perfect Pet Food
- Nature’s Logic Pet Food
- Nuggets Healthy Eats
- Open Farm Pet Food
- Primal Pet Food
- Rams Dog Food
- Souly Raw Pet Food
- VeRus Pet Food
Although all of the above mentions are dog food made in USA or pet food manufacturers that have taken the transparency pledge, neither myself nor Top Dog Tips explicitly endorse any one dog food product over another. There are a number of reasons when a food not made in USA can be just as good, if not better, than dog food made in USA. As a responsible pet parent, always research the brand fully before feeding it to your dog.
Dog Foods to Keep an Eye On
The following companies are just a few that use the “Made in the USA” label on their food but source their ingredients outside of the US. Unlike the companies listed above that make dog food made in USA, these companies have not taken the pet food pledge to full transparency of their ingredient source and quality. This means that these foods could quite literally contain anything from anywhere, even though this may not always be so.
Either way, here are the companies you should always investigate further:
- Fromm Family Kibble
- Merrick Pet Care
- Castor & Pollux
- Eagle Pack dog food
- Holistic Select
- Milo’s Kitchen grain-free dog food
- Kibbles N’ Bits
As a final note I’d like to add that while some pet food manufacturers and companies may not source all of their ingredients in the United States, that does not ultimately make their formulas bad or harmful to dogs. There’s a number of top dog food brands out there that cannot 100% claim “dog food made in USA” label but have a great nutrient profile, no dog food recalls, perfect reviews from pet owners and outstanding reputation. I recommend researching each brand separately, and judge them on a case by case basis.
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