Pet Fooled Documentary: A Review

EricReviews1 Comment


For this month’s blog post at Paws Dog Daycare, we thought we’d shift gears a little bit and talk not about what you do with your pets but instead about what you feed them. As dog behaviour experts, we are often asked pet-related questions that fall outside of our immediate scope—and pet food is a category that we may be consulted on. As a disclaimer, we are not educated pet nutritionists and certainly not a replacement for your vet. But our desire to do the right thing for your beloved pooch has our curiosity piqued, as we dig deeper to figure out what pet food is really all about.

Which brings us back to this month’s topic. We recently watched Pet Fooled, a documentary about—you guessed it—pet food. It’s streaming on Netflix if you’re interested in having a watch. The film brought up a lot of interesting points about pet food and its industry, and we want to share our thoughts on the 70-minute journey into kibble.

Raw Food Based

The first thing to acknowledge is that this documentary is definitely biased. It comes in believing that kibble is not healthy and that raw food is superior, and seeks to prove that point rather than provide a balance of perspectives. Such is the case with most documentaries, and the film does point out some alarming facts, but go into it knowing it’s definitely trying to be persuasive.

Lack of Regulation

Pet Fooled points out the gross lack of any real regulation around pet food. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sounds all, well, official but is actually just an organization made and run by pet food manufacturing companies. They meet to discuss what should go into pet food, but they are not a regulating body nor operated by the government—so basically, they serve their own interests. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a regulating body, but they are only concerned with making sure that what you say should be on the label is actually there. The FDA is not focused on quality of the food itself or the subsequent health effects. Similarly, regulations around reporting and compliance are not well defined.


Maybe the most interesting part of this documentary is its explanation of what those words on pet food packages mean. According to them, food labeled as “formula,” “nugget,” or “dinner” need only to contain 25% meat. Packages boasting “with chicken” (or whatever meat) need only to have 3% meat, and items label as “flavour” don’t have to contain any meat at all! That means your beef-flavoured treats may not, and do not legally have to, contain any actual beef. Furthermore, organic products need only to contain 3% organic chicken and 67% other organic ingredients and are permitted to contain non-organic chicken meal or chicken fat. And the word “natural”? To claim a food is natural, it must only contain things that are derived from plants, animals, or are mined—but those ingredients can be processed, rendered, or fermented in any way.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sounds all, well, official but is actually just an organization made and run by pet food manufacturing companies.

Corn and Carbs

When reading the packages of popular dry dog food, you will often find corn, soy, and wheat in the top three ingredients listed. Pet Fooled argues that these carbs are not only unnecessary but can actually be harmful to your pooch, citing them as allergens that can cause auto-immune, weight, and diabetic issues. And, as the film points out, although pet food manufacturers have been saying for years that these ingredients are not a problem, they are all now coming out with their own version of grain-free food.

Pet Fooled says that our pets thrive on species-appropriate diet, and that conventional pet foods have strayed too far from that. They condemn manufacturers, are frustrated by the lack of regulations, and are concerned by the increasing number of pet illnesses that (they believe) are related to inadequate food. And while the documentary was definitely one-sided, it brings up some important food for thought (pun totally intended). Even if you’re not interested or able to swing to a raw food diet for little Rex, it’s worth it to know what’s actually in his food. It’s important to be educated about what the buzzwords mean, what ingredients may be causing harm, and what regulations do (or in this case, don’t) exist. So next time you’re at the pet store, take an extra minute to observe what you read on the label. Watch Pet Fooled if you can, and ask the questions that more and more pet owners are starting to ask. Lobbying for safer, more regulated food is a win for us all—canine and human alike.

Interested in biologically appropriate food for your best friend? We carry Acana for both dogs and cats. Come visit us if you’re in down by 17th Ave today!

One Comment on “Pet Fooled Documentary: A Review”

  1. Loved it. As being a dog groomer and dog lover it feels great to read and learn about these kinds of stuff. I was actually looking for healthy dog foods and found your article. I read your other articles too. Thanks and keep sharing.

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