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DNA Analysis Reveals Undeclared Dog DNA In Dog Food

Updated: Jun 18

Dog DNA Found In Dog Food. DNA analysis reveals undeclared ingredients in dog food, including dogs!

A study published by the University of New Mexico recently, on January 6, 2023, detected undeclared ingredients in all tested pet food samples, questioning the regulation and quality control in the American pet food industry.

DNA from dogs was found in two of the six pet foods tested. The dog was one of the "undeclared ingredients" in the dog foods.

This is the third time dog food has tested positive for dog DNA in four years. (The first instance occurred in a lawsuit against Rachel Ray Nutrish's dog food.)

Dog DNA was detected in two pet foods and many other ingredients.

It was found that multiple ingredients were not disclosed on the label of all six pet foods examined by DNA analysis. According to federal and state pet food regulations, all ingredients must be disclosed on the label. Any ingredient that is listed on the ingredient panel should be labeled correctly. All six pet foods tested were mislabeled.

Here are the results of the study. Most results are not bolded, so they are ingredients not listed on the pet food label. Bold fonts indicate ingredients listed on the label, while unbolded fonts indicate ingredients not listed on the label but found in the pet food.

Dog DNA was detected in two pet foods and many other ingredients.

From the table above, we notice the following:

  • From 12 to 17, ingredients were not disclosed in each product.

  • The dog food did not contain salmon, as claimed in sample R4.

  • Sample R6 was also alleged to contain sweet potato, while the dog food did not contain sweet potato.

According to the FDA website, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pet food similarly to other animal food. By the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), animal foods must be safe, produced in sanitary conditions, free from harmful substances, and labeled accurately.

This study found that 100% of the pet foods analyzed were mislabeled.


Dogs and horses in Rachel Ray Nutrish's "Just 6" ingredient Product!

The court records of a lawsuit filed in 2020 against Rachel Ray Nutrish Just 6 ingredient dog food include DNA test results ("DNA content analysis" – Exhibit A), confirming what many have feared about pet food for decades. In "Rachel Ray Lamb Meal and Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food," dog DNA was found.

A photo of the DNA test results is Exhibit A in the lawsuit.

Dog DNA was detected in two pet foods and many other ingredients.

The product label for this particular dog food displays the ingredients as: "Lamb Meal as #1 ingredient, Brown Rice, Ground Rice, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat, and Natural Pork Flavor. "

The lawsuit is founded on Nutrish's claims of "Just 6" ingredients, and due to lab results which found more than what the label claims – the lawsuit states Nutrish "breached its implied warranty of merchantability because "Just 6" product did contain corn, wheat, soy, and beef, and therefore fails to function as a limited ingredient diet."

Horse and dog DNA was also found in the lab results but was not mentioned in the lawsuit.

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The company reformulated the recipe from 6 to 9 limited ingredients.

Rachel Ray Nutrish changed the recipe from 6 limited ingredients to the current 9 ingredients. They added chicken and peas, in addition to vitamins and minerals.

The company's reply to one of the customers' reviews

As you've mentioned, our Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe was reformulated in November 2022. The update included the addition of chicken meal and changes to the fiber source in the food (moving from dried beet pulp to a combination of peas, pearled barley, and grain sorghum), along with minor updates to the vitamins and minerals to maintain a complete nutrition profile for generally healthy dogs. Please know that reformulations like this are integral to ensuring our recipes always meet or exceed all current AAFCO Guidelines in order to provide pets with recipes that are 100% nutritionally complete.

Unfortunately, This formula change led to another issue as dog parents started complaining about the new formula. They argued that the company made the change without clear warning, severely affecting their dogs' health as the new formula contains allergy ingredients.

A customer's review:

The ingredients in this food have recently changed without a clear, obvious warning. I have been buying this food for the last 7.5 years (my dog's entire life). We got through the bag with the newest recipe before my boy got sick - throwing up and regurgitating constantly. He vomited so much that he ended up hospitalized with dehydration after one day as he could not even keep water down. He had exploratory abdominal surgery, thinking there was a hidden blockage after days of being sick without getting better and desperately trying to figure out the issue. He was hospitalized for about five days, trying to recover. I told the vet many times his food has never changed, and he's been on this L&R Just 6 food for his entire adult life. Almost $4k in vet bills later, and I had to find out with the help of other similar reviews online. I ran to the bag we'd been feeding him and confirmed it was the newest nine-ingredient recipe and didn't realize the small change to the bag from six to nine! The ingredients on retailer websites do not match the actual ingredients on the bag either. You have to zoom in on the picture to see if it shows the updated Limited 9 Ingredient bag to see if they have it. This will hurt many more pups without making this change more obvious across all retailers and ensuring all information is clearly updated.

Even more animal DNA has been found in dog food.

A team of researchers from the University of Nottingham conducted a study examining the levels of DNA from various animals, including cow, chicken, pig, and horse, in dog and cat wet food from 17 leading brands.

The study found that in seven products that prominently advertised "with beef" in their descriptions, the amount of cow DNA ranged from 14% to 56%. Only two of the seven products had more cow DNA (>50 percent) than pig and chicken DNA combined. Of the remaining five samples, three contained more pig than cow DNA.


What are some potential health risks associated with consuming dog DNA in dog food?

The presence of dog DNA or any undeclared ingredients in dog food may indicate the use of low-quality or contaminated ingredients in manufacturing, potentially leading to health issues.

For example, if the dog food contains meat from diseased animals or animals treated with antibiotics or hormones, this could pose a risk to the dog's health. Furthermore, some dogs may be susceptible to experiencing an allergic reaction to specific components utilized in dog food, so if the dog food contains undeclared components, it could trigger an allergic reaction.

It is important to note that the discovery of dog DNA in dog food does not necessarily mean that the dog food is unsafe or unhealthy for dogs to consume. However, it does highlight the need for pet owners to be aware of what ingredients are in their dog's food and to choose high-quality, trusted brands that prioritize transparency and safety in their manufacturing processes.

Now, what kind of meat should be in dog food?

The most common types of meat used in dog food are chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, and fish. These meats provide an excellent source of protein that dogs need for muscle growth and repair.

Chicken Meat in Dog Food

Chicken meat is one of dog food's most commonly used meats due to its high protein content and low-fat levels. Chicken-based dog food is ideal for dogs that need to lose weight or have digestive issues, as it is easy to digest and low in fat.

Beef Meat in Dog Food

Beef is another popular meat used in dog food. It provides more calories per serving than chicken but has a lower fat content. This meat is particularly beneficial for highly active or working dogs, as it provides the necessary energy to sustain their strenuous activities.

Lamb Meat in Dog Food

Lamb is a great option for dogs allergic to chicken or beef. It contains essential amino acids that support healthy skin and coats. Lamb-based dog food is ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs or skin allergies.

Turkey Meat in Dog Food

Turkey is a lean protein source commonly found in dog food that provides a tasty alternative to other meats. Turkey-based dog food is ideal for dogs that need to lose weight or have digestive issues.

Fish Meat in Dog Food

Fish like salmon or trout are often included in dog food since they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help maintain healthy brain function. Fish-based dog food is ideal for dogs with food allergies or skin issues.

It is essential to consult with your veterinarian before choosing the right dog food for them. Your veterinarian has the expertise to assess your dog's individual nutritional requirements and can offer tailored advice based on your dog's age, breed, and activity level.

Is the meat in dog food healthy for dogs?

When it comes to commercial dog food, the type of meat used can vary widely depending on the brand and quality. High-quality brands often use real animal-based proteins as the main ingredient in their products. In contrast, lesser-quality brands may use by-products or fillers with little nutritional value.

The source of the meat is also important to consider. Meat from reputable sources that follow strict regulations and standards is generally safer for dogs to consume than unknown or questionable sources.

While meat is an important component of a balanced canine diet, it should not be the only one. Dogs also benefit from various fruits, vegetables, and grains to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients.

High-quality meats in dog food can be healthy when sourced responsibly and used as part of a balanced diet.

How is meat in dog food processed?

Meat used in dog food goes through a rendering process to create the final product. Rendering is a technique where animal tissues are heated and processed to separate fat, protein, and moisture.

The first step involves collecting raw materials from various sources, such as slaughterhouses or supermarkets. These raw materials can include meat scraps, bones, organs, and other parts that may not be fit for human consumption.

Next, these raw materials go through a grinding process, turning them into small pieces or slurry. This mixture is then cooked at high temperatures until the fat melts away from the protein.

After cooking, the mixtures undergo further processing to remove moisture and impurities. The resulting product is then turned into dry kibble or canned wet food.

While this process helps make dog food more digestible for dogs with sensitive stomachs - it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies if not done properly. Therefore, pet owners need to choose trusted brands that use quality ingredients in their manufacturing processes.


In conclusion, a recent study published by the University of New Mexico found that multiple pet food products contained undeclared ingredients, including dog DNA. This study, along with previous instances of dog food testing positive for dog DNA, raises concerns about the regulation and quality control in the American pet food industry. The presence of undeclared ingredients like dog DNA may pose potential health risks to dogs, such as allergic reactions or exposure to diseased or contaminated meat. Pet owners should prioritize transparency and safety in the manufacturing processes of pet food and consult with a veterinarian to choose high-quality, balanced diets for their dogs. It is also essential to consider the source and processing of the meat used in dog food to ensure nutritional value and safety.

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