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by Stella Starr, Pet Perspectives


Dog owners are as concerned about dog food ingredients as they are about the safety and origin of their own foods since the Ukrainian grain problem.


My sister said the war between Russia and the Ukraine tripled the cost of foods here in the U.S. She wanted to know why in the world we are importing GRAIN of all things! I raised an eyebrow and reached for my cell phone.



Annie went to make hot tea and I asked my modern crystal ball about grain imports. The answers made no sense! Russia produces 85,896,326 tons of grain and the United States is second with 49,690,680 tons. Canada came in third with 35,183,000 tons per year. One site said China is the largest producer of “grain” but I think that is mostly rice.


She has her own dog now and setting our cups down, Annie said the cheaper the product, the less meat and the more grain. She lost a son in Korea and choking up, she muttered “This is just one of the effects of war, even when it isn’t close to us.


I nodded while noting that “carnivorous pets can digest grain” as one website assured me. Annie pointed to another blip that said table scraps are “bad for pets” and said our leftovers have more meat than the same amount of dog food. She said I was lucky to be feeding cats. I agreed cats are smaller but pickier and therefore consume less “pet foods.” She smiled, “Yes, I know you feed them than canned mackerel that costs a fortune…”. I ignored that.


The Institute for Feed Education and Research said corn is the most used dog food ingredient. Wheat is the second most common but it is not the same part of the grain that is in our bread or cereal bowl. Annie grimaced, said they call it “chaff” and that it is the left-over stuff that goes in pet foods.


We learned a lot but what bothered me is that China is first in grain production (over 134 million tons) and we are down to 4th at under 50 million.


So my advice is to check your dog food labels carefully. Even if “meat meal” is first you may find that some kind of grain is the next ingredient and it counts as protein. I already knew that pet food labels may say something like ‘chicken is the main ingredient’ but that could be predominantly beaks, feet and feathers… Annie sipped her tea and grimaced.



Most dog owners don’t buy organic dog food but it was good to learn that the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulates imported food, beverage and dietary supplements that are offered for sale as “organic”.


My cats don’t eat corn but I like fresh corn on the cob and when grocery shopping, I try to support American growers. She agreed but pointed out that with frozen or canned goods, it is getting a lot harder.


Moving my cup carefully, I showed her where one site said the USDA prohibits “Methods like irradiation, sewage sludge, and genetic engineering” in growing or processing organic foods. She rolled her eyes and said “That creeps me out!” Me too!


Understanding the complex regulations that define “organic” wasn’t easy. And then there’s the actual inspection problems associated with any product. See the link she found (below) about Importing Organic Products Into The U.S. (dated 2016) {Ref #1}


Helping myself to one of the homemade cookies she had brought I clicked on the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and learned the NOP does “regulate” imported food, beverage and dietary supplements offered for sale as “organic”.


My sister smiled the way that means it isn’t funny. She said that implies that food products should be from ‘farms and businesses that have a United States Department Of Agriculture organic certification.’ We seemed to be getting into a swamp of too many words and not enough fact so I’ll leave it to you readers to wade through it.


My take is that too many pet foods rely on too many producers for them to be called “organic dog food.” All you dog owners will make your own decision about imported ingredients in pet food brands based on your dog’s condition and health. I hope this helps.


Reference {#1} Importing Organic Products Into The U.S. EST 1998 © Nov. 2022



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