Downeast Dog News

“People Food” versus “Dog Food”

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Jan 04, 2021
Photo by: Debra Bell

After last month’s column, I was sent an email stating,“Before consuming something myself, perhaps I need to start thinking, would I feed this to my dog?” That is an excellent question to ask oneself and is the perfect segue into this month’s topic.

There is NO Such Thing as “People Food”

The idea that some view “People Food” and “Pet Food” as two different things is ridiculous and non-helpful when we assess what to feed our pets. If you look at the ingredient list of any quality pet food, you will find items that people and pets consume: chicken, venison, rice, peas, etc. When you consider what to feed your dog, I suggest you ask yourself two questions. Is what I’m feeding my dog made from fresh, whole food with minimal processing? What is the quality of the ingredients used in my dog’s food?

What is Processed Food?

Processed food for people is all that stuff located in the center aisles of the supermarket. It is found in boxes and cans and even in the freezer aisle. The ingredients used in these products often have the same names as what you can buy in your grocery store’s produce, meat, seafood, and dairy sections. It isn’t very likely they are of the same quality. Manufacturers of processed food are looking to maximize their profit. They entice us to purchase their offerings because we want convenience. I’m no saint as I eat my share of processed food. However, I know it would be healthier to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, and dairy products and to use them to prepare a fresh, home-cooked meal.

The analog of processed food for dogs is kibble. Dry dog food is typically made from leftovers from human food processing. When you see pictures of choice cuts of beef or a whole roasted chicken on the bag of dog food or even the words “chicken” and “beef” on the list of ingredients, please understand that is probably not what is in your dog’s bag of kibble. Yes, your dog’s food contains beef and chicken, but it is not of the same quality as the chicken and beef you would purchase for your family.

The manufacturing process for kibble involves cooking a slurry of all the ingredients at very high temperatures and pressures. This process causes the ingredients, some previously cooked, to lose some of their nutritional value. The heat destroys many micronutrients like vitamins, enzymes, and healthy bacteria found in whole fresh food. These are necessary components which kibble producers then add back into the food as-synthesized chemical elements after the food is cooled.

There is nothing wrong with feeding kibble. Most people feed their dogs dry dog food, and they survive. However, understand that kibble was not developed to provide optimal nutrition. Dry dog offers the consumer a low-cost, convenient product that meets minimal standards for a dog’s nutrition.


How Can I Feed My Dog Nutritious, Fresh, Whole Food?

Supplement Your Dog’s Kibble with Fresh Food

The easiest way to provide a dog with higher quality nutrition is with fresh meat. Adding little bits of lightly cooked chicken, beef, lamb, venison, whatever you’re making for yourself, can be an excellent supplement to your dog’s kibble.

If your dog eats them, adding some brightly colored fruits and vegetables will provide a natural source of essential micronutrients. To get the optimal benefit, run them through a food processor first. Remember that your dog has no need for the carbohydrates found in produce, but the micronutrients and fiber are most beneficial. I have added the following to my dog’s meal: apples, asparagus, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, oranges, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and yams. Food that must never be fed to a dog include grapes, onions, raisins, and the seeds of apples, apricots, cherries, and peaches.

Adding a bit of yogurt with natural cultures can also provide your dog with a natural source of beneficial probiotics.

Remember, everything you add to your dog’s food as a supplement includes calories, so decrease the amount of kibble you are feeding by the same amount.

Feed A Commercial Frozen Raw or Lightly-Cooked Food

I achieve my goal of feeding Muppy a diet of fresh, whole food by primarily using frozen raw food [ FMI - ] and lightly-cooked food. The latter has the advantage of being a human-grade pet food. The chicken used in this food is actual chicken breast and thighs, and the beef is beef round. My Golden, Tikken, was also fed a frozen raw diet most of her life and lived 16 years.

Make Your Dog’s Own Food

The surest way of ensuring your dog gets the type and quality of food you want is to purchase the ingredients and prepare meals yourself. However, if you choose this route, you must know what you are doing. That means spending the time to read books on the subject, more than one, and following recipes closely. My wife did that for one of our dogs for many months, spending about four hours per week doing so.




Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©12-Dec-20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved

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