cruelty-free-dog-food

Pet food is a controversial topic when it comes to animal testing. Because our beloved pets will ultimately consume the goods, some claim that animal testing for pet food should be necessary in order to ensure our animals’ safety.

But just because pet products and animal testing both involve animals, it doesn’t mean they must be tied together. When we refer to animal testing in the pet food world, we’re talking about laboratory animals being subjected to invasive tests. This is, I believe, what many animal testing advocates fail to recognize. Sadly, animal testing facilities often conduct unspeakably cruel and inhumane studies.

In this post, I’ll list 35 cruelty-free pet food companies and give you options for dog food as well as cat food. But first, I want to tell you what animal testing for pet food involves.

dog1

Pet Food & Regulations

The thing is, nothing ever has to be tested on animals. Not even pet food.

Advancements in technology are allowing scientists to use microchips instead of animals to test drugs, questioning the necessity of any animal testing for any purpose.

But pet food is highly regulated in the US by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Organization). In addition to the nutritional analysis, the food has to be fed to live animals. This is called a “feeding trial”.

Feeding Trials In Laboratories

In 2003, an undercover PETA investigator filmed dreadful footage inside a feeding trial laboratory. The animal testing was commissioned by renowned industry giant Iams.

The footage shows sick, neglected suffering cats and dogs confined to small cages. Dogs were thrown on the floor after their vocal chords were cut off and their back-leg muscles removed. A dog was found dead, bleeding from his mouth in his cage. The footage also showed laboratory workers talking about a live cat that had been washed down the drain. (You can read the full story via Uncaged.)

Has anything changed since? Yes and no. Thankfully the conditions are better, which isn’t to say they’re ideal.

pet-food-animal-testing

Companies To Avoid

The following pet food brands still conduct laboratory feeding trials and/or test on animals in other ways. They are not cruelty-free.

  • Iams (owned by Procter & Gamble)
  • Hill’s Science Diet (owned by Colgate-Palmolive)
  • Pedigree (owned by Mars)
  • Purina (owned by Nestle)
  • Friskies (owned by Nestle)
  • Natural Balance
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Whiskas (owned by Mars)
  • Eukanuba (owned by Mars)
  • Sheba
  • Bakers Complete (owned by Nestle)

catpie1

Humane Feeding Trials

Today, some companies choose not to conduct feeding trials on laboratory animals. These companies provide cruelty-free dog and cat food. To be in compliance with the AAFCO, these smaller, alternative trials must adhere to the following rules:

  • conducted on at least 8 healthy dogs, of at least 1 year old
  • the trial must run for at least 26 weeks
  • the dogs must only eat the trial food, and their daily consumption must be recorded
  • the dogs’ weight be tracked weekly and they must undergo blood tests throughout the trial

Since these trials are not performed on laboratory animals, they do not involve animal testing. Some companies’ employees will sometimes volunteer their pets for feeding trials. The pets will be weighed daily, but there’s otherwise no change of lifestyle involved.

Cruelty-Free Dog Food Options

The companies below don’t use laboratory animals as part of their feeding trials. They only perform humane and non-invasive feeding trials. For cruelty-free dog food, try:

honest

The Honest Kitchen

halo

Halo, Purely For Pets (Vegan!)


flint

Flint River Ranch (Vegan!)


burns

Burns


fish4dogs

Fish4Dogs


pooch

Pooch & Mutt


yarrah

Yarrah

Cruelty-Free Cat Food Options

Cat lovers, I’ve got you covered as well! Please keep in mind that unlike dogs, cats can’t thrive solely on a vegan diet. They require taurine, which can only be obtained from animal-based proteins. If you’re choosing a vegan food for your cat, you might want to consider a taurine (or meat) supplement. Here are some cruelty-free cat food options:

yarrcat

Yarrah


catflint

Flint River Ranch (Vegan)


weruva

Weruva (Gluten-Free)

35 Cruelty-Free Companies

Need more choices? I’m going to end this post with a list of pet food companies that don’t test on animals.

  • Almo Nature
  • The Honest Kitchen
  • Weruva
  • Flinch River Ranch
  • Halo, Purely For Pets
  • Yarrah
  • Solid Gold
  • V-Dog
  • Stella & Chewy’s
  • Nutri-Vet
  • Burns
  • Pooch & Mutt
  • Fish4Dogs
  • Happy Dog Food
  • Holistic Blend
  • Newman’s Own Organics
  • CaniSource
  • Fromm Family Foods
  • Pet Guard
  • Feline’s Pride
  • Oma’s Pride
  • Dr. Harvey’s
  • Primal Pet Foods
  • Dingonatura
  • Dynamite Marketing
  • Timberwolf Organics
  • Artemis Pet Food
  • Pet Chef Express
  • PoshNosh
  • Bravo Raw Diet
  • Raw Advantage
  • Azmira Holistic Animal Care
  • Sojourner Farms
  • Sauder Feeds
  • Veterinary Nutritional Formula
  • Wysong Professional Diets

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77 Comments on "Pet Food & Animal Testing: A Horror Story"

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Kiss & Make-up
Guest

Never even thought about this :-O Thanks for sharing.

Suzi Scheler
Guest

Thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

Loula
Guest
I love that you are sharing this. People need to know more about the pet foods they are buying, and the companies that own the majority of the brands. But, there is one major issue here. I and many others would agree that feeding a cat or dog a vegan diet is a form of animal cruelty by itself! This is more serious with cats as they are obligate carnivores. We should not be feeding them a diet based on our lifestyle when it is not appropriate for their bodies. Feed them what they were designed to thrive on and… Read more »
Suzi Scheler
Guest

Definitely agree with you when it comes to cats. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Loula. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lexi Alexandra
Guest

I’m a vegan crazy cat lady, lol, but wouldn’t ever feed my cats a vegan diet for that reason. I just assumed that their animal-based food is a result of cruelty, and therefore I have to live with that guilt ? but didn’t consider less cruel ways of acquiring their food. Dammit now I’m sad, so I’ll just end with: thank you for *all* your research. I love your blog, and it’s a great resource for those of us (trying to live) living a more compassionate lifestyle. Thank you.

Conchi Foranimals
Guest
Everyone has a right to their opinion of course but to say that feeding your pets a vegan diet is a form of animal cruelty is ridiculous to say the least. On one hand you have commercial pet food which is made up of antibiotics, euthanized pets, cadavers of animals from the farming industry that have died from disease and are rejected for human consumption, feces, pus, tumors, already rotten corpses, not to mentioned each and every animal that has been killed for meat has been tortured and slaughtered in a horrific and terrifying way which is the cause of… Read more »
Rizza
Guest

Do you know anything about Canidae? From what I’ve read they don’t test on animals but I haven’t emailed to confirm, and I know you have specific questions that you.

Suzi Scheler
Guest

Hi Rizza, I just e-mailed to verify but here’s an excerpt from their FAQ:

“CANIDAE neither conducts nor condones any inhumane laboratory live animal testing. After many years of making pet food and over a million tons a month being fed without incident world wide, we have passed the real world test without harming or inhumanely caging a single dog or cat.”

It’s not totally clear based on that so please stay tuned for their reply!

Rizza
Guest

That’s what I found as well! It seemed really vague. Thanks so much for contacting them! Looking forward to their response.

Lexy Johnson
Guest

Thank you for posting this!!! I had never even thought to check if the stuff I’m feeding my dog has been tested on animals! Luckily my pet store carries halo for the same price as blue buffalo so I’ll definitely be making the switch.

Suzi Scheler
Guest

That’s great to hear, I bet your dog will like Halo too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Erin
Guest

Thanks for this up to date info. I am not surprised but saddened to read all the academic studies that supported these experimental methods. Money talks, animals can’t. Thank you for being their spokesperson.

Suzi Scheler
Guest

Thanks so much for your kind words, Erin.

Kitty O'Possum
Guest

Thank you for this! I have a couple of questions. Do all the companies listed as testing on animals actually do lab feeding trials, or are some included because their parent company tests other products on animals? I’m also interested in how to find out whether a company who’s not on these lists tests on animals? For instance, Nutro, Merrick, and Rachel Ray’s Nutrish. Thanks!

Suzi Scheler
Guest

Hi Kitty! Yes, all companies mentioned here test on animals themselves (as opposed to their parent company) as far as I know. From my research, I couldn’t find any evidence supporting that Rachel Ray’s brand is cruelty-free. I haven’t looked into the other ones, but I’ll do my best!

Loula
Guest

Merrick is owned by Purina and Nutro is owned by Mars Corp. so I wouldn’t trust either one.

Lexi Alexandra
Guest

OK, I just checked your Nutro info above, only to be disappointed that it is indeed owned by a company whose products I do not like for their skimpy nutritional value. I thought Nutro was better than that! I’m going to try Halo again (it means going to a big box shop vs local) as my boys used to eat it, even if they pushed the veggies aside – hehe… I try to feed them carrageenan-free canned food, so I’m limited on that account. OK, here we go! And thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

Suzi Scheler
Guest

I’m not familiar with this company, but I couldn’t find anything stating they don’t test on animals. Definitely contact them to verify.

Lynette
Guest
I contacted them and here is their response: Dear Lynette, Thank you for your inquiry. We would like to assure you our commitment to animals includes superior nutrition and the humane treatment of the animals involved in any necessary feeding trials. In order to ensure the safest and most nutritional food possible, our formulas are analyzed for nutritional content. The USDA regulates facilities used for this testing and we choose them based on their reputation and dedication to nutritional research and animal care. Sincerely, April Product Specialist kind of ambiguous! i think i might be finding a new pet food!… Read more »
Suzi Scheler
Guest

Sounds to me like they do test on lab animals, sadly. “Facilities” would mean laboratories.

Chelsie
Guest

I’d like to stress the necessity of meat in a cat’s diet. Gluten free foods are perfect for them, but I’d try to shy away from any vegan options for cats. Dogs, on the other hand, can safely be vegan if absolutely necessary. I’m a vegetarian myself (future vegan), but I can’t deny my cats and foster cats what they need to survive and thrive. Thank you for sharing this, Suzi! I’m happy that our Fromm (from Wisconsin) is cruelty free! Everyone adores it and it’s healthy for them!

Suzi Scheler
Guest

Thanks Chelsie! ๐Ÿ™‚

NightmareLuna
Guest

Even if you’re vegan, you shouldn’t force veganism on your pets, a dogs natural diet is to eat meat, so you’re ripping away part of it’s natural diet by making it vegan!

Lexi Alexandra
Guest

Good to know! I stopped feeding dry Blue Buffalo to my cats quite a while ago. They now eat Orijen. For wet food they eat Halo and Nutro. I’d be interested in finding out whether those brands are cruelty free as well. What are your thoughts on how to phrase questions when I inquire about it?

Conchi Foranimals
Guest

Thank you so much for this post. I believe that LILY’S KITCHEN – APPLAWS – ACANA – ORIJEN are also cruelty free. They are on PETA lists and Orijen & Acana are owned by CHAMPION PETFOODS who confirmed to me that they do not test on animals but rather have their pets do the food test trials.

Notfurlong
Guest

I’m so relieved. I was just trying to find out the status on Orijen. You just made me a very happy cat lady. ๐Ÿ™‚

Conchi Foranimals
Guest

You’re very welcome ๐Ÿ™‚ I should mention though that all those foods are not cruelty free. They may not be tested on animals but they’re still not cruelty free. The animals that have to die for pet food still have to go through slaughter and terror and torture their whole lives. At least, if you can choose not tested, it’s one less horror in the world ๐Ÿ™‚

Jade
Guest

i suggest another cruelty free company: Nova Foods http://www.novafoods.com all their brands are cruelty free! ๐Ÿ˜€

Anna
Guest

Hello, Suzy! Found another petfood company: http://www.brit-petfood.com/about-us/company-profile/ Can we trust them?

Karis Moore
Guest

Can anyone find out if Petsmart carries a cruelty free brand of cat food? I’ve been researching but I’ve come up with very little so far.

EY
Guest

Wondering if you know whether Authority cat food by Petsmart is cruelty-free? It’s a Petsmart only brand and I tried to do research to see if they are owned by a larger parent company, but couldn’t find anything. Thanks.

Becky Teague
Guest

I wanted to contact Merrick about their testing policy, since they were recently purchased by Purina. However, I have never contacted a non-beauty company before, and the various laws for the pet food industry seem a bit less straight forward than cosmetics. I was curious what the emails you sent contained. I want to ask in the most direct way.

Thanks!

TT
Guest

Also would like to know what to ask for this! I came across a pet food site that donates pet food and helps animal shelters whenever you buy a bag (BOGO Bowl http://www.bogobowl.com/) but can’t find any information about testing. I’d like to keep supporting them but want to make sure they are in line with cruelty-free procedures.

Alison
Guest

Unfortunately I have 2 diabetic cats and they’re on prescription diets, so I’m kind of screwed there.

Stephanie
Guest

We have dogs with special dietary needs and love Merrick. I didn’t see them listed on either list. Do you have any information on them?

Yessica
Guest

Are any of these available at petsmart/petco?

Sonya Deschรชnes
Guest

Ok so after reading this article, I was wondering if the food I give to my dog is cruelty-free and I can’t found it.. I give Acana to my dog and when I look on google it’s the only part I can read :” Oct 22, 2015 – Pet food often involves painful animal testing on laboratory animals. … They are on PETA lists and Orijen & Acana are owned by CHAMPION … ” the link brought me here but I don’t see the answer.. Can you help me ? Is it cruelty-free food or no?

Nicole Joyce
Guest

As far as I know, Natural Balance is cruelty free and they also donate money to local animal shelters.

Scott E. Myers
Guest

In addition to animal testing, there’s also the question of where and how the meat in the pet food is sourced. Are there any dog food companies that do not test on animals, and also have relatively cruelty free means of sourcing their meat? By “relatively cruelty free” I mean the cows/chickens do not live miserable lives in cramped, inhumane quarters and are killed in a manner that seeks to minimize pain and suffering as much as possible.

Chelsea Metcalfe
Guest

I’ve been thinking this same thing throughout the article as well… All of the regulations about the pet food industry aren’t as easy to understand as the cosmetic regulations, so I don’t know how to find it out myself

Sarah
Guest

Wow. Never thought about pet food being tested on animals. Will definitely make sure what I feed my pets in future is cruelty free. Do you know anything about Oxbow? I feed it to my rabbits, a quick google search seems to say its okay, but I trust you much more!

Shameni Vasuthewan
Guest

Hi, does anyone know if the brand Addiction cruelty free?

Suzi Scheler
Guest

They don’t test. ๐Ÿ™‚

Suzi Scheler
Guest

They’re not vegan, but they’re cruelty-free (which means not tested on animals if you look it up).

Kevin B
Guest
Hi, just wanted to share my e-mail exchange with Victor Dog Foods, an affordable brand, with quality ingredients and great reviews. Does anyone else know anything about this company’s testing procedures? Or would you take this response as acceptable? My initial inquiry asking if they tested on Laboratory animals got this response: Greetings Sarah, Thanks for your growing interest in Victor Super Premium Pet Foods. We Scientifically formulate our products without lab animal testing. We have enough faith in our products that we feed them to our own animals. Thanks again The Victor Team Further exchange ensued to garner more… Read more »
Lindsay Oberle
Guest

I switched from blue buffalo to Solid Gold for my kitties because of this site. Thank you! Im tryi g very hard to change out all my products to cruelty free and mostly natural, i find this site to be very helpful as it can be a stuggle

shana18
Guest

all animals raised on factory/conventional farms live tortured lives and their entire existence involves cruelty …. and almost all meats used as ingredients in pet foods are from factory/conventional farms …. but i think the article was referring to the pet foods being used in labs and tested on animals ….. sort of an inaccurate read … as the entire pet food industry is based on cruelty ….. they even use euthenized pets as ingredients ….. they have contracts and agreements at ‘kill’ animals shelters for this http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/rendered-products-in-pet-food/ …..

Conchi Foranimals
Guest

Agreed and they even use diseased animals that didn’t even make it to the slaughter line that can’t be used for human consumption!

Viola
Guest
Hi, what about sanabelle cat food? It is manufactured by bosch tiernahrung. And hier is their statement: “No. Our standpoint on animal testing is clearly defined by our quality management handbook: The developping of new products is based on projects which rest on a scientifically researched and recognised foundation. We are strictly against any kind of animal testing which majorly affects the life of animals or which is associated with any kind of pain or suffering. Therefore we judge all animal testings associated with torture and pain that recently became public news and in which sadly pet food companies had… Read more »
Claudia
Guest

the only issue for me is that my cat is the fussiest eater. i’ve tried to feed it tons of different brands and every time we go back to purina fancyfeast because its all she will eat. also, i’ve never heard of any of these brands before, nor do i think i’ve seen them in the supermarket. i really don’t know what to do

Carrie Nicole Daly
Guest

If you would like to try new foods for your cat you can always go to Petco and try a few brands out. The great thing is you can return open bags of food in exchange for a different one. The open bag of food gets donated so it doesn’t go to waste and you don’t waste your money. They usually have someone who understands pet nutrition and can answer a lot of questions.

Tiffany Montes
Guest

I feed my dog Natures Recipe and I’ve been researching if it’s it’s cruelty free but I haven’t found any information that confirms whether it’s cruelty free or not.
Can anyone help me out?

But other than that great article and it’s very informative.

April Shuyler
Guest
I really love that you’re sharing this, and especially that these products aren’t vegan diets. I do disagree with a below comment in regards to dogs being able to eat and process vegan diets, BUT, meat-based diets aren’t as much of a necessity for dogs as they are for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores. I’m a future-vegan myself, but I used to feed raw, and plan to raise animals for my dogs. I know many don’t and will never agree, but if I do it this way, I know EXACTLY where my pets’ food is coming from, I know EXACTLY… Read more »
Suzi Scheler
Guest

Thank you April! I’m hoping to be able to post more beauty reviews so I hope you find what you’re looking for. Makeup’s fun! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Conchi Foranimals
Guest
How do you know dogs can’t process vegan diets? Have you had a vegan dog and had it tested? I have and they are all not just fine but their blood tests are improving as time goes by! The falsehood that dogs can’t be vegan has been rebuked over and over and it’s time to admit the truth and update pre-conceived ideas. As for Cats and everyone on here continually “warning” against a vegan diet for cats, I just laugh because although partly right, those “warning” have no idea what it is cats “need from meat”. The most important nutrient… Read more »
Francine Pope
Guest

I make my cat food using free range boneless, skinless chicken thighs, bell and evans chicken livers and get the nutritional supplement from Alnutrin. Much less expensive than high quality canned food and i can feel safe that it’s cruelty free. Cats are not vegans.

Amber
Guest

Hi, I have a senior kitty with IBS who is currently on Purina’s HA hydrolyzed, which is a prescription diet with hydrolyzed protein. Is there a comparable product available that isn’t tested on laboratory animals?

Suzi Scheler
Guest

Hopefully someone can help! Please leave a comment if you know. ๐Ÿ™‚

NightmareLuna
Guest

I never knew that pet food could be tested on animals, my cat sadly eats Whiskas, does anybody know of any cruelty free brands that are sold in Europe?

Polychrome
Guest

I am wondering about Wellness . Does anyone know what category they fall into? That is what I feed my cats .

Robin
Guest

I use wellness for my dog and actually just looked it up. They do use feeding trials, but do so with their own dogs/cats and no surgical procedures are performed. They said they are cruelty free, but don’t qualify for the peta certification due to the feeding trials. But I feel that since they trust this process enough not to cause harm to their own pets, I can trust enough in them. They also said that they only use food grade ingredients. Hope this helps.

Polychrome
Guest

Thank you , I appreciate the reply.

Houda Khoshaba
Guest
Hi suzi, thanks for providing so much helpful information. I do feed my cats Blue Buffalo and they are doing well on it. Changing and trying to find pet food that works well for all 3 cats is a tough mission. I went to Blue Buffalo site and this is what it says about animal testing. Back to Top Do you do any animal testing? Blue Buffalo does not do any invasive animal testing. Our company was founded on the basis of providing the best possible nutrition for dogs and cats, and we treat our pets like family members. We… Read more »
Kate
Guest

Do you have an info on Orijen or Arcana?

Rebecca
Guest

Does natures variety test on animals that’s what I feed my dogs right now.

Sara Thomas
Guest

Do you have any lists of pet food that is made from animals raised ethically and humanely?

Bri
Guest

This is a great list, but I’m curious about the animals that actually go into the food as well. My understanding is that Orijen kills the animals humanely. Anyone else have any information on any other dog food company that is humane from start to finish?

Selma
Guest

But… it’s pet food. Of course it’s going to be tested on animals!

Donna B.
Guest

Did not see my brand of dog food on either the “good” OR the “bad” list. Can you give me some feedback on “Taste of the Wild” dog foods please? I use the Wetlands formula for my 2 large breed Weimaraners.

Jessica
Guest

This blows my mind! I ran across this post by accident and decided to start switching my dog from Blue Buffalo to Holistic Blend. Thank you for sharing!

Janae
Guest
I cannot believe blue buffalo is on this list…I just don’t believe it. Is there an update…a source for this information? Proof? My cats only eat BB and my little one actually gets sick eating anything else (even if all natural and the very best ingredients). I also only use BB litter, my daughter is allergic to the clay litter and I think it’s awful. Corn and wheat litter is disgusting and so is the recycled paper option. I worked very closely blue buffalo in the past, and I find this very hard to believe. I made still have some… Read more »
Sarah
Guest

Do you know if Good Natured pet food (its a petsmart brand) tests?

Lizzie
Guest
I feed my dog Blue Basics and I am also finding it hard to believe that a brand that puts so much emphasis on animal well being and only giving quality products, along with actually making quality food that when I read the ingredients I don’t need a dictionary, would do anything like what Peta caught in the Iams lab. I could understand if maybe they aren’t registered or don’t meet some super specific criteria to have an official cruelty free label, but I need more information. We went through hell trying to find something that worked for my pup’s… Read more »
CatLadyNYC
Guest

Does anyone know what the deal is with Petropics/Tiki Cat?

Eleri
Guest

I’m in the UK and my dogs are fed with Lily’s Kitchen. Do you have any information about their testing policies please? I thought I was doing so well but seeing this has made me feel less confident.

Lola
Guest

Hey! I’ve recently started the switch to cruelty free and your site has helped so much! I know I’m late to this page but do you know if the publix generic pet food brand is cruelty free?

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