By The Farmer's Dog | February 2, 2024

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is a global organization focused on raising the standards of small animal veterinary care around the world. The organization provides many resources for both veterinarians and pet owners, including guidelines for selecting pet foods. These guidelines focus on evaluating each company in relation to their nutritional expertise, food safety and quality control practices, and whether the company is active in nutrition research.

The Farmer’s Dog human-grade food products and manufacturing processes meet or exceed WSAVA’s guidelines for selecting pet foods.

What to look for in a brand

1. Do they employ a nutritionist? Appropriate qualifications are either a PhD in Animal Nutrition or Board Certification by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) or the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN).

Yes, The Farmer’s Dog employs both PhD, board-certified nutritionists and Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionists ®.

2. Who formulates the diet? Is the recipe developed by an experienced pet food formulator (MS or PhD in Animal Nutrition), a veterinarian, or a pet owner/breeder/trainer?

Dr. Ryan Yamka, PhD, MS, PAS, FACN, Dipl. ACAS (companion animal nutrition), and Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Nutrition) formulate The Farmer’s Dog food while overseeing the initial formulations from concept to commercialization.

3. What is the quality control process for ingredients and finished products? Diets formulated to meet Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) guidelines should meet their nutrient profiles. Does the diet meet the profile based on analysis using a nutrient database or on chemical analysis of the finished product?

Manufacturers and pet food providers should have adequate quality control to ensure companion animal and owner safety. This should include ingredient (food and supplement) validation, final diet nutrient analysis, toxicology, bacteriology, and packaging/shelf-life screenings prior to, during, and after manufacturing.

All our foods are formulated to be complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards, and a typical nutrient analysis for each food is available upon request by contacting our customer service group or online through our Veterinary Team Portal. 

The Farmer’s Dog food is raising the bar on pet-food standards. Our Manufacturing and Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory (FSQR) teams continuously monitor food safety and quality assurance programs to ensure production facilities meet human-food industry standards. 

4. What kind of product research or nutrition studies have been conducted? Is it published in peer-reviewed journals?  Pet food companies are not required to conduct or sponsor nutritional research in order to produce and sell a food, but when they do, it indicates a commitment to animal health and wellness.

We have conducted a multi-year feeding study to ensure our food is complete and balanced with bioavailable nutrients. Results are available upon request. Additionally, we have conducted third-party studies that demonstrated our pre-prepared recipes are clinically proven to be highly digestible and clinically shown to aid in prevention of struvite and calcium oxalate urolithiasis through relative supersaturation (RSS) studies. All results are available upon request by contacting our customer service group or online through the Veterinary Team Portal.  

We are also partnering with multiple leading veterinary colleges and have ongoing studies to help ensure we are continually doing what is best for dogs.

What to look for on a label

5. Nutrition Adequacy Statement? Is it a complete diet? Foods should be labeled to indicate if they provide a “complete” diet with all required nutrients. The label might also specify if this was determined via life stage feeding trials vs formulation to meet requirements.

Yes, our foods are complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards. Our foods meet AAFCO nutrient profiles by formulation and are also regularly tested for a complete AAFCO nutritional profile plus taurine, carnitine, and total dietary fiber by a third-party laboratory. In addition, our foods have successfully completed a multi-year feeding study that we designed in conjunction with a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist ® to surpass AAFCO feeding trial standards. 

6. How many calories per gram or serving of food? Obesity prevalence is increasing in pets in many areas of the world. Having access to accurate pet food caloric content can help prevent unintended overfeeding. Calorie information is only required on pet food labels in the US. Where it is not provided on the label it should be available by contacting the manufacturer or calculating from label nutrient analysis.

The number of calories per gram of our food depends on the recipe selected. Clear, specific calorie information is presented to every customer when they sign up for a plan for their dog, and is available on their account page at any time. We provide personalized, pre-portioned packs of food tailored to each dog’s specific caloric needs, so dog owners can see exactly how many daily calories they’re feeding. These customized plans make portion control simple and all but eliminate the chance of unintended overfeeding.  

7. Does the company provide immediate contact information such as a phone number or email address? Company representatives should be easily accessible for additional questions, such as the level of specific nutrients not on the label. Pet food companies should be able to provide an “average” or “typical” analysis for all essential nutrients in their food.

Yes—you can reach our incredible customer experience team at [email protected] or 646-780-7957 (24 hours a day and 7 days a week). Additionally, our third-party typical nutrient analysis, digestibility results, and Relative Supersaturation (RSS) results are available to veterinarians on the Veterinary Team Portal and in our Nutrition Guide (accessible via our portal).   

8. Who makes the food? Companies may make their own food (i.e.,”Made by”) or use a third- party manufacturer (i.e.,”Made for” or “Distributed by”).

At The Farmer’s Dog, we go above and beyond traditional pet food manufacturing standards and regulations by partnering with USDA-inspected and FDA registered facilities in the U.S. that produce human food.

We require each facility to hold a USDA grant of inspection and have on site inspectors employed by the USDA. In addition, we require all locations to maintain Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification.  Our internal FSQR group has extensive experience in human food safety. 

This article was originally published in February, 2021 and was updated February, 2024.