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Crazy or Common? Pet Food Companies Using Feather Meal in Food

Floating High, feather

There is a new pet food ingredient heading our way…feather meal.  The pitch to consumers and veterinarians has begun.  Brace yourself, feather meal might be coming to a pet food near you very soon. ~ Truth About Pet Food

This is a LONG post, so I will give you the highlights and hope that you return to read more…

  • Royal Canine announced using feather meal as a protein source in response to dogs with severe protein allergies.
  • I wonder if dogs are allergic to proteins or if they’re having a reaction to low quality kibble.  Have these dogs been tested for allergies?
  • Although there have been trials for feeding kibble with feather meal (as the protein source), these trials don’t share the long term impact of this new diet.
  • Just because a dog can survive on this new kibble doesn’t mean that the dog will thrive on this kibble.
  • Dog owners are ultimately responsible for what our dogs consume – although there are many veterinarians who promote Royal Canine, there are many other diets (not just raw) that are superior.

I’m just a bit disillusioned and frustrated.  If you read my blog, then you understand how special the Human-Animal bond is to me.  My dogs are my babies (my cats too) and I want to do what’s best for them.  I don’t know everything and I’m not perfect, but I do try to educate myself by asking questions of people who are “in the know” and I share that information with you.

Royal Canin and Feather Meal

First off, let me say that I’m not writing this to attack Royal Canin.  Although Royal Canin is the catalyst for this LONG blog post, I’m more frustrated by the information, misinformation, and contradictory information being shared about dog health and nutrition.  It’s too confusing and makes it harder for dog parents to make good choices for their dogs.

The Forbes article that started it all.

I recently read an article on Forbes about Royal Canin’s use of feathers as a protein source to combat dog allergies.  Although I’m trying to keep an open mind, I’m still frustrated by some of the changes made by the pet food industry, because they raise more questions they they’re answering.  My first question is (1) will the use of feathers be disclosed in the ingredients? (actually, yes – you can see it on their page here) and my next question is (2) how will the breakdown of the feathers impact the dogs?  What chemicals are being used to break down the feathers and what impact will those chemicals have on our pets over time?  Given all the shocking ingredients that are said to be acceptable for dog food, can you blame me for being skeptical about this new one?

Feather meal is being pitched as the new best thing in pet food. ~ Truth About Pet Food

I have to say that I’m stunned that so many people are supporting this option and don’t seem to be questioning if feather meal or the processing that turns feathers into meal is safe.  I’m starting to think that I’m in a small group of dog parents who has stopped trusting the pet food giants and I don’t want to be on this island; I want to believe that they understand that it’s good business to care about our pets.  But right now, I think everything they say comes with the stench of double talk aimed at getting us to trust that their food is best for our dogs.  It’s up to us as dog parents to ask the question “is this food best or is there something better?”

State of Health, 2013 – Banfield Pet Hospital

At BlogPaws, we learned that we’re seeing a rise in cancer, flea infestations, allergies and obesity in our dogs.  Personally, I think it’s due to the food we’re feeding them and the chemicals (like topical flea & tick treatments) we use without following up with a detoxic.  Not only are their questionable ingredients in dog food, some pet food companies are rendering sick animals and feeding them to our dogs, some pet food companies are using harsh chemicals to preserve the food, giving it a longer shelf life, e.g. ethoxyquin – a chemical linked to serious illness.  Are we surprised that our pets are getting sicker?

Per the Banfield Pet Hospital report, the average lifespan of dogs has increased by 4%, which I attribute to education, which is leading to more responsible pet owners.  But with that win, we’re still seeing…

Banfield Pet Hospital - State of Pet Health

Source: Banfield Pet Hospital – State of Pet Health


But, there have been feeding trials using feather meal.

“Just because the machines say it tests well doesn’t mean it performs well in the body.  You could feed me donuts fortified with all the vitamins and minerals I need and a 6 months feeding trial wouldn’t show many health losses.  But, check on me in 6 years, I guarantee my health will be failing.  Feeding trials aren’t mean to test that much far out.” ~ Dr. Cathy Alinovi, HoofStockVet

But are you going to do the food trials yourself?  Some of us don’t feel that we have a lot of options when it comes to trusting pet food ingredients, which makes it more frustrating that we can’t count on the industry we’re keeping in business to help us out.

It’s easy to ignore the stats flying around about dog health, because these numbers can be manipulated.  But we can’t ignore what’s happening at home.  I know too many dog parents dealing with cancer, allergies, and obesity.

Feeding Our Dogs Feathers is GREAT!

“It’s not only nutritious but can also be made very palatable to dogs. Feathers are broken down to an amino acid level and don’t have much of a taste. Then we add palatizers for taste. In this case, we have to be very careful not to provoke an allergic reaction. That’s why it took so long to develop this particular food. We’re looking for lots of different sources of protein for our foods: hydrolyzed soy; for some of our foods in China we use worm meal. I tried some kibble made with worm meal once – it tasted very good. So our approach goes way beyond feathers.” ~ Keith Levy, Royal Canin

Maybe I’ve been drinking the raw food for dogs Cool-Aid for too long.

I’m not a journalist, I’m a blogger.  So I have the pleasure of putting emotion and opinion behind everything I write.  I happen to think this is hogwash, but when I take a step back, maybe I’ve just been drinking the Raw Food Diet for Dogs Cool-Aid for too long and think everything can be resolved with some raw meat and bones.  But if dogs have severe allergies to most proteins, will a raw food diet work OR is their reaction to the highly processed proteins we find in today’s commercial dog food?

Even dogs on a raw diet have allergies.

“Many of our patients who have tried a wide variety of processed diets clear up within weeks of getting off the processed food.  It isn’t the processing itself which is inherently bad (we get food allergies in patients on raw or homecooked diets as well), but the common ingredients therein.  Corn, additives, preservatives…Those need to come out too for a truly “hypoallergenic” diet.  If it doesn’t contain ALL novel ingredients, and the ingredients aren’t rigidly controlled (preferably by the owner themselves) then it ISN’T a proper food trial!” ~ Carol of Healing Paws Veterinary Care

Dogs Allergic to Protein?

When did canines become allergic to protein?  Who the hell knows!  But it’s what some people have concluded when their much beloved pet isn’t getting better no matter what they do.  Some veterinarians change their diet and, Voila!, allergies resolved .

When did dogs become allergic to protein?

How do we know that dogs are allergic to proteins?  Were tests done?  Dr. Cathy Alinovi of HoofStockVet asked even more questions.  “Are we talking food trial or blood test?  The blood tests are notorious for being 50% accurate for food allergies.”  Dr. Alinovi goes on to ask “are we talking food sensitivity?” and tells us that these tests are new and only test on some foods.

Royal Canin isn’t Being Deceptive

As I shared above, they are disclosing that they’re using feathers in their food.  Of course, the first ingredient is corn (called maize starch) – I found this surprising, because we’ve been told that grains are on the top of the list of allergens for dogs.  The food that sparked this post is being created for pets with severe allergies; not for all pets.  They’re not suggesting that all kibble only contain feathers.  The snarky, over protective dog mom in me can’t help but add a “yet” to that statement.  Yep, I blame the Cool-Aid.

Yummm, ‘poultry by-products aggregate’ and ‘feather hydrolysate!’

The reason I question the disclosure is because the feather meal seemed to be initially called “hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate,” as confirmed by Carol of Healing Paws Veterinary Care , who is also a registered veterinary technician.  And because many of the ingredients are similar to what’s in their normal dog food, it makes me wonder if the food with feather meal is better for dogs with allergies.  Of course, I’m a blogger and not a dog nutritionist, so I don’t really know and that’s what I find frustrating.

It seems strange to go to all this trouble of hydrolyzing feathers in order to make a novel diet…

“It seems strange to go to all this trouble of hydrolyzing feathers in order to make a novel diet when you could just put the dog on a meat like ostrich or kangaroo that is every bit as novel.  It seems even stranger to do it without changing the other ingredients in the food.  If the dog is allergic to corn, or marigold extract, or fish oils, then what good does the feathers do?” ~ Carol of Healing Paws Veterinary Care

But then again, how readily accessible are alternate proteins like ostrich and kangaroo.  What about elk, venison and rabbit (not sourced in China)?

But like many other pet food companies, Royal Canin’s record isn’t spotless.  Kat from Bengal Cat Domination, shared the consumer complaints (Consumer Affairs Royal Canin Complaints) she discovered online.  I felt a little smug having read a few of the complaints, but then I asked “what have people said about Halo Pets?”  Nothing to date.  Whew!  But it was the push I needed to go fully raw.

People are quicker to lodge a complaint than they are to compliment.

But the flip side to these complaints is that we live in an anonymous, reality television world and people are quicker to lodge a complaint than they are to compliment; so we have to wonder if there was a “Consumer Affairs Royal Canin Raves” page, would there be an equal number of compliments?

My Response to the Forbes Article

“There has got to be a better way.  Reading a few of the comments, I was surprised at how far down I had to scroll to see that someone is questioning feathers as an ingredient.  Is this listed on the packages and if it were would people be so quick to buy into it?  Yes, this is a popular brand, but as a pet blogger who deals with daily promotions from people in the pet food industry, I’ve become adept and digging through the BS to find the truth and still feeling misled.

What has the processing done not only to the protein, but what chemicals are being added that are going to lead to long term health issues in our pets.

With regard to allergies, our dog allergies cleared up when I put them on a raw food diet.  I was hesitant to make the change, because I bought into the myths that it’s too messy, it’s unsafe, it’s too expensive, and that our dogs wouldn’t get enough nutrition.  All malarkey and its astounding how many companies will work with dog parents to not only educate them, but to help them feed this diet within their budget.  On the prey diet, dogs are eating the entire animal, including feathers – the difference I see is in the processing.  What has the processing done not only to the protein, but what chemicals are being added that are going to lead to long term health issues in our pets.

I’m not commenting to bash Royal Canin.  If this is something that is working for them and their customers, then that’s great.  I know that feeding store bought food is an easier option for many dog parents and it’s beneficial to have brands that we can trust.  My only beef is with the disclosure.  I would like to see more brands sharing what is going into our dogs’ (and cats’) food and let us make the determination if this is okay.  I would also like to see more brands redirecting their marketing budgets into producing quality food, educating dog parents about reading and understanding pet food labels, and pulling away from sourcing in China (not that Royal Canin does, but others do).” ~ Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Mom, Keep the Tail Wagging

Other Responses to the Feather Meal

Jessica from is a fellow pet blogger and I respect her down to earth opinions on both dog care and blogging.   She shared “I am not sure that the use of feathers themselves is a reason for alarm. They are broken down into the most basic amino acids which are the most basic building blocks for protein.

The source and processing of the feathers is what is a concern for me.

The source and processing of the feathers is what is a concern for me. Where do they come from? Are there chemicals involved in the processing that could leave a residue behind? Is this information disclosed on the package? I believe there is room for pet parents to make their own decisions about what dog food is right for their pet but it is up to the brands to ensure that they are able to make an informed decision.”

What Would Make Me Happy?

As a dog mom and an influential pet blogger, I would love to be able to have open, frank discussions with brands about what is in their food.  When I listen to a company’s pitch, getting excited, because ‘they get it! they understand the human-animal bond’ and this is a great option for me to promote to readers not ready to go raw, imagine my disappointment when I do my homework (and yes, I will Google You!) and find that no changes were made except to add veggies to the package and call it holistic.  Re-Branding is not change!

I would like to be able to go to a brand’s website and see not only a complete list of ingredients, even if I can’t pronounce them, links to the definitions, and where the ingredients are sourced.  I want to make a decision on which brands to give my hard earn money based on information, not adorable commercials of a man and his dog playing fetch.

And stop the double talk.  Recently, we learned that a Mars Pet Food location closed and 121 people lost their jobs.  The article stated the following to explain the closure:

“We’ve seen some changes in the market so we’ve seen a shift to smaller dogs which means less volume of dry pet food and then we’ve seen some of our retailers kind of diversify their operations and have many suppliers,” says Julie Lawless of Mars PetCare.  “We have 13 manufacturing facilities that make a variety of dry pet food, wet, and then the snacks and treats, and so some of the volume here will move to some of the other plants.”

Really?  Small dogs are all the rave so 121 people lost their jobs?   It’s not because dog and cat parents are becoming more educated and are demanding more for their pets?  It’s not because manufacturing and marketing poor quality pet food for a quick buck no longer cuts it in a world where we can Google anything?  Hey, I’m just a blogger, what do I know?

An Update – 6/19/2013 – Real Dog Parent Experience

I’m currently researching vegetarian diets for dogs and if this is a good idea and Dawn Gum of Raleigh, NC reached out to me with her experience with Royal Canin hydrolyzed protein, prescribed by her veterinarian…

“I own a 7 yr old Pharaoh Hound who developed a protein allergy about 2 years ago. She would break out all over in jawbreaker sized hives about an hour after eating. My vet tried several different animal protein options without success and finally suggested a soy protein option. My dog has been eating a hydrolyzed soy protein dog food (Royal Canin HP Hydrolyzed Protein dry & canned) for about a year now & hasn’t experienced any allergic reactions. She’s even gained back some weight she lost while we were trying to find a food she could tolerate. I also switched my 5 yr old Black Lab mix to the soy based food since they like to eat from each other’s bowls. Both dogs are thriving on the diet -their coats are shiny and they’re just as playful and engaged as they’ve always been. Until we started on the vegetarian diet I was extremely worried that we’d run out of protein options for her. So although the food is expensive, it’s worth knowing she can eat it without an allergic reaction.” ~ Dawn Gum

Please note; the soy protein food created by Royal Canine  that Dawn uses has animal fat, so it’s not a vegetarian diet.

But the Royal Canin HP doesn’t contain feathers…

“The HP ingredient list includes animal fats, hydrolyzed poultry liver, & fish oil. So although there’s a higher percentage of  soy protein in the food than animal proteins, it looks like it’s not a strictly vegetarian diet. No feathers listed in the ingredients, though.  They may only be in some of the Royal Canin products. Nevertheless, the HP has resolved my dog’s food allergy and vet visits for both dogs have all been good since switching them to the diet.” ~ Dawn Gum


So What Are Your Thoughts? 

Do you have a dog (or know a dog) who is severely allergic to protein?  Would feather meal be a viable option for your dog?  Please share, because this is way out of my experience with our dogs.


  1. I’m almost speechless, feather meal? My first instinct is to say Power To Em yet I’m not feeding that to my furchild. I look forward to seeing what more you find out about it but…..geeze, the things they come up with. smh

    • Okay, right? When you read the Forbes article, the guy actually starts to sound like this makes perfect sense and then you think “feathers?” No, this doesn’t make sense. And with my growing distrust of the pet food industry, I started asking questions like crazy. I couldn’t believe that there hasn’t been a huge outcry.

      I guess that has started now and I’m so happy to hear that others are asking questions too.

      • I’m still speechless :)

  2. It has been my understanding that many of the really bad ones had been doing that for years now.

    Do I agree with it…..No way, No how, Not my dogs, Not ever.

    Besides the cost to ones pet there is the financial issue, I am not shelling out hard earned money for dog food made of feathers. It is like paying big bucks for old used up soil for your garden or buying nice rich organic compost. Sure the used up soil will still support life but the growth will small and puny, where as the nice rich organic compost will produce huge luscious growth.

  3. Wow great post Kim! I love that you mention that you’re a blogger so you can throw emotion and opinion into the mix, haha. I certainly am learning a lot here! :)

    • Thanks, Monique! This one was a fun one to write!

  4. Kimberly, thank you for another informative article. This is why I love visiting Keep the Tail Wagging.

    But, Feather meal?!? I cannot believe this…what next?!? My first question is “How can this be good for dogs with allergies, especially if, like Oz, a dog is allergic (or has a food sensitivity to) poultry?!?” And I KNOW Oz has a sensitivity/allergy to poultry because when I have fed it to him, he breaks out in an itchy rash almost immediately! Is someone trying to tel me that he would NOT be allergic to a specific part of poultry?!? That’s ridiculous.

    Maybe I have already been drinking too much of the Raw Food Diet Kool-Aid too (and we are only on week 2), but I just cannot believe that adding more “stuff” into a dog food is the solution to “making it better” for our dogs.

    I have to agree with Bren, I am speechless.

    Gina (Oz’s mom)

    • Thank you, Oz’s Mom :)

      This one was a fun one to write. I know it’s crazy long, but I just had so much to share. Can you believe this? I want to believe that they’re doing their best to see to the needs of our pets, but I keep going back to “how do you know it’s a protein allergy?” and “how do you know which protein the dog is allergic too?”

  5. For so many years, people really didnt have options. Whatever they wanted to put in food, dog food, to make more profit, they have done it. Enter “feathers” … wow. What a joke, I love the analogy of buying poor dirt vs rich compost, that is a great way to put it! While feathers in food isnt great, I agree that the processing is probably a bigger issue… Is there a call to action? What can we do besides being outraged? I started using a new app called buycott … its free and I used it to purchase items free of gmo products. I think Ill test it to see if I can set it up to avoid dog food w feathers lol. Great post Kimberly! Thank you for doing what you do!

    • Keep me updated on the app, Heather and I appreciate the comment.

  6. I read about this elsewhere already; kind of reminds you of the Matrix, doesn’t it? “They liquify the dead and feed them to the living …” Though, technically, it would probably be nutritious … Blah

    OK. Technically, if clean, toxin-free, and hydrolyzed properly, hydrolyzed feathers would be equal to hydrolyzed anything else. An amino acid is an amino acid is an amino acid …

    Am I a fan of isolated, processed nutrients? No. I do believe that the whole is indeed more than the sum of its parts. If you don’t think so, go and buy some Ikea furniture :p

    So I don’t know. If I had a dog crazy to allergic to protein, all and any protein, then I might consider it.

    Could it work? Could it fulfill the amino acids requirements? Probably.

    Are they doing this for the benefit of the dogs? Hm …

    So anyway … theoretically, with a hydrolyzed diet, the source is pretty much irrelevant, as long as the source is clean of things that don’t belong there. So theoretically, for such diets, it doesn’t matter.

    I do strongly believe in fresh, whole food ingredients with minimal processing, though. So I wouldn’t feed a processed kibble diet for that reason, not necessarily because of the source of the hydrolyzed protein.

    • The questions raised when I read stories like this or see rebranding that only includes the addition of “natural” on the packaging. What’s ‘natural’ about kibble? After reading this, I switched our dogs full to raw. They love it.

      • Yeah, the word natural can be meaningful and can mean completely nothing. Rocks a natural too.

  7. This is a hot button issue for me. Not only is there great cause for concern about pet food, but human as well. Most livestock today come from “factory farms” where they are fed all kinds of chemicals, growth hormones and GMO grains. Then, we and our pets ingest them, too, when we eat meat. These days we’re finding GMO “volunteers” in farmers crops – esp corn and soybeans. Again, then we all ingest the same. Our water sources are polluted with the runoff and ground water contamination from the chemicals used in factory farming (both livestock and field crops). And we wonder why allergies and some diseases are on the rise… :-(

    • So very true, Sue – when you really start thinking about it, your head starts to spin. I just want whats best for our dogs and I can’t help but feel that not only do these companies understand the human-animal bond, they’re taking advantage of it with these changes.

  8. That’s really interesting. Royal Canin makes a lot of great prescription diets for a number of cats and dogs with certain diseases or conditions. Some of them do a great job for the pets that eat them. I’ll have to check out this feather diet they are making, although feathers don’t exactly sound very appetizing…

    • The feathers are creating a polarizing topic; for some, it’s valid and for others it’s malarky. I do commend Royal Canin for talking openly about it and now I’m curious to see if other pet food companies do the same. Someone already commented that this has been going on for awhile. Interesting.

      • The diet does looks pretty interesting to me. I’ll admit that I would give it a try possibly. I’ve seen dogs suffer from allergies so bad that they’ve been returned over and over again to rescue groups because they were so itchy. If something like this was able to help a dog like that then that’s great. I wonder if vets will prescribe this only in extreme cases?

        • That’s what I’m wondering too. On one hand, if this can help dogs, then great. But I just question if that’s the case – I keep going back to “how do you know it’ll help after such a brief food trial?”

  9. “I’m not a journalist, I’m a blogger. So I have the pleasure of putting emotion and opinion behind everything I write.”

    Oh good, that makes me feel better about being able to include personal opinion in my comments too 😉
    Well, we have switched to raw feeding, at least not yet, but I am picky about what I feed them. I remember looking into Royal Canin because I thought it was very interesting that they made breed-specific foods… no other dog food company was doing this (that I knew of). We have Dachshunds, so I looked at their Dachshund formula. The ingredients totally turned me off. Just terrible. So I never took another look at Royal Canin.
    Until this post.
    Really? Feathers? Hydrolyzed feather protein. Arguably hypo-allergenic, given the processing the feathers go through. But maize (corn) starch? And soya (soybean) oil? Corn and soy are both known allergens for so many dogs. Perhaps these are supposed be processed enough to make them non-allergic. Don’t know… haven’t read all the details yet… and honestly probably won’t. This is just too weird for me. TOO unnatural. I realize that kibble in general is unnatural, but at least the kibble we feed is made of fresh, completely natural ingredients. They may not exactly be fresh after they’re cooked/dried into kibble, but at least they started out that way. This stuff is ALL processed… then processed some more into kibble. I don’t know. I certainly can’t say that dog highly-allergic dogs won’t do well on it. Maybe they will. Still too weird for me.
    Either way, thanks for writing on such a strange, but interesting food topic.

    • My comment above should say, “haven’t switched… ” not have switched. Darn typos!

    • I struggle with this too; will it work? I guess we’ll see, but until I see a miraculous change being reported by people, I’m stuck in the “what are you doing?” mode of thought. Thanks for putting some opinion in your comment! Loved it!

  10. This isn’t a food that was created for the dog that happens to be allergic to Chicken or Beef and gets a little itchy or an upset stomach. This food was created for dogs that literally cannot process animal protein. Having witnessed a friend literally watch her dog die because he developed an autoimmune disease (traceable to a rabies vaccination) that would not only not allow his body to process the protein but eat away at him had this food been out in time it might have saved his life.

    No I don’t claim to understand why this works where other things wouldn’t or couldn’t work for dogs as sick as he was but I do know there are dog owners out there that the option to switch to raw or just find a better food or home-cooking are not options. This food is a prescription only diet that needs to be carefully monitored by a veterinarian if used. The company is not saying you should feed this food to a healthy dog this is a last resort food that might allow a loving dog owner to have a few more months or years with their dog.

    • Thanks for weighing in with your POV, Felissa. I think it’s important that varying opinions be shared, because this is such a polarizing topic as can be seen on the original Forbes post in the comments. This may be a great option for dog owners who have dogs who have developed an allergy to all proteins. My concern goes back to the fact that pet food companies are putting things in our dogs’ kibble that is making them sick and I see this as the reason our dogs are having such horrible reactions to their food and this is resulting in allergies, cancer, and a shorter life span.

      Of course, I’m not expert either. I’m just a blogger and dog mom. But I’m blown away by what I’ve learned in the past year plus as a pet blogger and it doesn’t make me feel comfortable with the pet food industry at times. It’s also difficult when you hear one group of people tell you this is hogwash and give you compelling reasons why that’s the case; while another group of people support it, telling you they’ve seen it work. Who are we to believe.

      I wrote this post hoping to get varying thoughts in the comments and to call for more information. As a person who has had the pleasure of having several pet brands not be completely honest as we’re chatting over coffee; I have a tendency to lean towards the suspicious. But I try to keep an open mind, because I do know that I can’t know it all.

  11. The scarey thing about this is not that they are actually using feather meal- but that they have made it seem like a good thing in that article! Really the forbes article to me is an interesting insight into what the CEOs if these pet food manufactures tell themselves so they are able to sleep at night. That frobes article is frightening to me on more than one level.

    As far as real protein allergies, I have only ever heard of one dog who had a legitimate protein allergy- who had tried a novel protein of raw prey model and it didn’t work. This is one extreme case- of a dig I never met in person- so it is not that common, and their owner claims to have fixed the issue with vegetarian home cooking. Most people who claim their dogs have these protein allergies (even if they are the extreme severe cases) have only ever tried kibble. To me that says nothing about any allergies, it only says your dog has a problem with the protein in kibble. In my opinion there is no reason you can not then make your own meat free whole foods diet. I read an article about it in my anti-processed foods vets office once. I would never recommend vegetarian diets to any dog other than this one in a million dog who is truly unable to process protein. Either way there is nothing good about this food. When people tell me their dogs need to be on this kind of food made in a lab they always tell me they tried everything. Then I ask if they tried home cooking, raw food, or anything other than kibble, no one has ever told me they did. I just don’t get it. How can we not see the problem is that food is too processed- and when our dogs develop intolerances to it the answer is not to process it more- the answer is to process it less.

    • Annie – I could hug and kiss you! Exactly how I feel too. I would love to believe the advertising and that these companies have our pets’ best interest at heart, but ultimately they are a business and I think they are very good at marketing and the response to the Forbes article has been interesting – I’ve seen people defending it and admitting that it’s an amazing food and brand, while others are stunned that this is what flies as premium pet food.

      I learned many of the things that you’ve stated. With very little process of elimination, people have been lead to believe that their dogs are allergic to all protein. Maybe they are, I don’t know, but I raise the red flag when we’re acting as if this is very common. Are dog parents self diagnosing and then buying this food? Will this food only be available at the veterinarian’s office or will feathers become common in many foods, allowing pet food companies to call their food (with corn as the first ingredient) hypoallergenic.

      It’s an interesting situation and makes me happy that I’m in a position to feed raw, that there are resources to help families cook at home, and there are alternatives out there if you’re not comfortable with these ingredients.

  12. I pick crazy. Lol.

    It sounds to me the company is trying to think of something to do with the “waste” for even more profit.

    I know there are mixed opinions on comparing what wolves, foxes and other animals dogs descended from but I still question: Do these animals eat the feathers of birds in the wild?

    And besides, the feathers put into dog food that is bought in a store is so processed that the feathers would be unrecognizable and no longer REALLY feathers anymore, right?

    In addition, I was just reading another article on this by a homeopathic vet. He pointed out that the company Royal Canin, owned by Mars is the king of chemical flavors and additives, so you know they will probably have to add even more of these to make the “food” palatable.

    Also, I don’t think proteins and amino acids are created equal. The body will “see” and process an amino acid from a grain or bean much differently than one from say raw bison meat. So certainly, if a dog chews up a couple feathers (even if freshly plucked from a chicken) his body/digestive system will process it differently also. I mean there are different enzymes used from the body itself to digest different foods.

    It seems to me, at least the stories I’ve heard from those who have chickens and have awakened to find their hens gone, (usually taken by wolves, coyotes and/or foxes), also have a coop full of feathers. I’m thinking the animal thieves don’t eat them. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m coming from second and third hand info point of view.

    So again, my thoughts are that they are using them because it’s just another ingredient they can save themselves from throwing away. “”Hey, add it, hype it…the consumers will believe it (read: drink the kool-aid) if we sound like we know what we’re talking about.””

    And as I read in the other article I mentioned, there are tons of other things dogs can be allergic to besides food. Maybe continuing to find the answer in kibble and canned foods that are so processed they aren’t food anymore, isn’t the right tree to be barking up. (Not saying at all that diet isn’t important…I believe it is.) But maybe there’s another problem and the answer isn’t in the food all the time.

    Here’s the article if you’re interested.

    Warning: He is a product spokesman in addition to being a homeopathic vet. But I have nothing to do with that. I have no connection to him. The only reason I’m sharing is that he does bring up some good points I thought you, Kimberly and your readers might find interesting.

    • Laura – thank you so much! That’s what I’ve been wondering too – do coyotes (and like you said, dogs are not coyotes) eat the feathers. One person told me yes and a few more told me no. When I first heard this story, I felt the same way – they’re just using every bit of the bird and calling it good.

      If it works for some dogs, great. But my questions remain the same – are you sure about the allergies, is overly processed food good for your dog in the long run, and do you want to pay premium price for feather protein?

      I’m just excited that this has turned into a discussion and I hope it inspires people to ask more questions. I know I’ve been reading more ingredient labels lately.

  13. Yeah it’s a good discussion. And as you brought up the studies done are pretty useless since they really need to be proven over the long haul and then, well, guess who the guinea pigs are. (Ha…so many puns.):)

    I think we’ve gotten (well our pets) have gotten along this long without feather meal. I think they can continue without. I would prefer not to feed mushed up chemical laden feathers to my cat thank you.

    I love the raw food diet for cats and dogs. I did attempt it with my cat and he wouldn’t touch it. The vet who’s article I linked to above, I remember reading he suggests force feeding the raw food if your pet won’t eat it, but I’m not for that at all. I can’t imagine pinning my little guy down and shoving food down his throat. Not gonna happen.

    However, I like the grain free option. Wellness (altho probably a somewhat commercial brand) seems to be a decent option. Both canned and kibble.

    Thing is though, I’m not sure they can even make kibble without some kind of gluten for binding, making it NOT grain free.

    Got a little off topic there. Sorry.

    • No worries about going off topic. Take it where you want to. I love the discussion.

      Our cats won’t touch raw either, but our dogs love it. That’s why I started my new blog, because there’s so much to share that it just became it’s own site.

      All the benefits people rave about are true.

  14. Feathers have been a feed component for CAFO livestock and chickens for a while now. Although in the Forbes article the claim is made that the chicken feathers are more expensive than “chicken” I suspect that article is full of spin, and that this is an attempt to maximize profit by recycling feathers into our pet’s food.
    On top of that, but corn and soy ingredients are sure to be GMOs which have already been strongly associated with serious health problems in animals. I will avoid this food.

    • Thanks for commenting, Sabira

      I just started following the GMOs as everyone is calling for boycotts of popular brands. It’s been fascinating learning how the read ingredients. I’m in no way an expert, but it’s interesting how people can take something questionable and spin it into something good and if it sounds right, people will buy it.

  15. Hi, I got fed up with my dog’s allergies, he is a 4 year old boxer,so I started cooking for him, it takes me about an hour every 4 or 5 days, I usually make a huge meatloaf of ground beef, grated carrots, grated zuchini, grated sweet potatoes, oats and eggs to hold it all together and stick it in the ocen for an hour. He loves it and he gets complements for his shiny coat all the time. ; ) I would never go back to kibble.

    • You’ve inspired me to make our dogs meatloaf this weekend. In fact, I better go thaw out the beef now. :) I’m going to use the ingredients you shared. I bet they’ll love it!


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