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JFFD and Cal Poly Develop Groundbreaking Feeding Trial

The study was conducted over a 182-day period and tested our whole food daily recipes, all within the AAFCO protocols.

The study was conducted over a 182 day period. It tested our whole food daily recipes, all within the AAFCO protocols.

In the world of dog food, the “gold standard” in research to prove nutritional adequacy is a feeding trial executed to the protocols outlined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This research is not required, but about a year ago we executed such a study using our fresh-frozen food. Frankly, we believe many of the AAFCO regulations and policies fall short of placing canine health as a priority. Pointing out those defects is more compelling after we have ourselves passed the highest standards outlined by AAFCO.

At the earliest stages of planning the research we ran into an ethical barrier. The way the feeding trials are typically carried out runs entirely contrary to our way of thinking at JustFoodForDogs. The industry norm is to use a “colony of dogs” that are “purpose bred” specifically for this kind of research. These are dogs that routinely live in a facility their entire lives. They are born and live for the purpose of testing.

We wanted to pass the testing but there was no way we were participating in anything like that. So we asked ourselves a question that seems to come up for us with some frequency: is there a better way?

We turned to the University of Cal Poly Pomona’s Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department. We commissioned them to design an improved method to satisfy AAFCO requirements. The study utilized volunteer dogs living normal canine lives in their own homes throughout the testing. It included a variety of breeds and sizes ranging in age from one to five.

According to Dr. Broc Sandelin, PhD, Chair of the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department, “The field method we developed takes significantly more effort than the standard ‘industry approach’, but to JFFD it was absolutely worth it. The dogs are happy, and the data are scientifically valid.”

The JustFoodForDogs feeding trial is groundbreaking because it prioritized the quality-of-life of the trial dogs, while also providing much-desired real-world data from the volunteer pets and pet parents. We are very proud to be the first dog food company in history to successfully complete the standardized AAFCO feeding trials using real companion dogs in their own homes.

JFFD Staff Veterinarian Dr. Oscar Chavez, DVM, concludes, “AAFCO requires testing of four blood parameters. We took it a step further by testing a complete blood cell count and comprehensive chemistry panel looking at over 25 blood parameters. We are proud to report every single dog passed the feeding trial on both a group and an individual basis. All participants were found to be happy and healthy, and a majority offered to volunteer again.”