Pet Food Slowly Poisoning Pets: New Lab Testing Study

Here at we have reported on numerous chemicals of concern in pet food over the years and even devote a section to the potential problem in our book.  Now, in this recent laboratory testing study there is evidence that a number of popular pet foods contain not only problematic industrialized and synthetic food additives, but troubling levels of arsenic and lead as well…

Is your pet’s food slowly poisoning your furry friend?


Dog food labels read “all natural” and cat food labels read “grain free,” but do you really know what is in your pet’s food? And is it really safe?

A new study by the Clean Label Project a national non-profit organization, looked at more than 900 top-selling dog and cat food products. According to their findings, some pet foods are not only unsafe, but they could slowly be poisoning your pets.

“Clean Label Project worked with an independent third party, analytical, chemistry laboratory called Ellipse Analytics who has tested tens of thousands of consumer products, and they literally have never seen environmental and industrial contaminants as high as they have ever seen in pet food,” said Jaclyn Bowen, the executive director of the Clean Label Project.

Eighty-one percent of the pet foods tested exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead action level. In some pet foods tested, lead was found at 16 times the concentration of lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water. Eighty-nine percent of pet foods tested exceeded the arsenic levels set by the EPA.

Dog food brands, Purina and Pedigree received high ratings. Blue Buffalo and Iams, however, had a wide range of results depending on the specific food.

Cat food findings were similar. 9 Lives ranked high, and Purina’s Friskies and Fancy Feast had a wide range of results.

So, should pet owners be worried about what is in pet food? What can consumers do to protect their pets?

Clean Label Project says to be aware of marketing tactics such as “high quality”, “all natural” and “grain free.” The study found that these brand messages, along with higher prices, were not an indicator for quality.

Additionally, pet foods labeled “grain free” were generally found to have higher levels of toxins than those that did not.


Bottom Ranked Dry Dog Foods:
1. Bil-Jac Farmer’s Bounty with Steam Rolled Oats Dry Dog Food
2. The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Zeal Fish Recipe Dry Dog Food
3. Diamond Grain Free Care Sensitive Stomach Formula Dry Dog Food
4. Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic New England Fish and Fresh Greens Dry Dog Food
5. Orijen Six Fish with New England Mackerel, Herring, Flounder, Redfish, Monkfish, Silver Hake Dog Food
6. Orijen Six Fish Wild Caught Regional Saltwater and Freshwater Fish Dry Dog Food
7. Orijen Tundra Goat, Venison, Mutton, Bison, Arctic Char, Rabbit Dry Dog Food
8. Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Ocean Fusion Dry Dog Food
9. Acana Singles Mackerel and Greens Formula Dry Dog Food
10. Timberwolf Grain Free Legends Dakota Bison and Buffalo Meal with Herbs and Berries Dry Dog Food


Clean Label Project recommends printing out their list of recommended foods. All products tested have been rated one, three or five stars. Clean Label suggests that pet owners take the list to their local vets to find a product that is not only lower in contaminants, but also meets the dietary needs of their pet.


“Their diets aren’t like ours. They eat the same thing two to three times a day and every day of their life.  So, with that, the exposure that they’re having to these environmental industrial contaminants and toxins is so especially important, and the fact that nobody is talking about it, we’re really looking to drive that awareness.”  -Jaclyn Bowen, Executive director Clean Label Project


Clean Label Project’s pet food rankings can be found here