Stop Making Pet Food with Indigestible Feather Meal


Target: Royal Canin USA President, Keith Levy

Goal: Stop making pet food with feather meal, an indigestible source of protein, as the main protein source

Royal Canin is making a new pet food for dogs with food sensitivities using  feather meal, which is indigestible, as its protein source, marketing it as “anallergenic.” Recently, Royal Canin’s President, Keith Levy, said in a interview that the company is “not focused on ingredients, but on outcomes for pets,” and that they can “deliver great protein with soy, or with other ingredients.” It seems clear Royal Canin believes pet owners should follow their lead and stop focusing on the ingredients in the food they offer their pets. Instead, they should be feeding formulas with “great protein” derived from soy, or even feathers.

Feather meal is used as a protein source in a food marketed to dogs who are highly allergic to many foods. However, in that food, corn starch is the first ingredient. Corn starch is an ingredient many dogs have allergies to, which negates the point of using feathers as a protein source. Levy said that by making food with things like feather meal, Royal Canin is “using something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.” When it comes to animals’ health, recycling should not be a primary concern. Especially when the consumer is paying a premium for the product, which he or she is when buying Royal Canin, one of the most expensive foods on the market.

Feather meal is also not a usable form of protein. It is created by breaking down the feathers to amino acids through a process called hydrolyzing. While almost any type of protein can be hydrolyzed and made digestible, alternative protein sources generally have much less bioavailability than animal muscle meat and organs. In fact, the biological value of feathers is zero, meaning the protein from feather meal cannot be used by the cells of a pet’s body. Not only is feather meal unusable, it also carries a great risk for contamination.  A recent study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University showed that the majority of feather meal samples tested were contaminated with multiple pharmaceuticals and personal care products, not things consumers want in their beloved pet’s system, especially a highly allergic dog like this food is designed for.

Royal Canin’s new protein source is deplorable, and the fact that Royal Canin tries to market it to highly sensitive pets is even more so. Tell Royal Canin to stop using feather meal in their pet foods.


Dear Mr. Levy,

In a interview recently, you said that Royal Canin is “putting the dog at the heart of the innovation process.” However, by using feather meal, you are not putting the dog at the heart, but instead the bottom line. Feather meal may be a cheaper source of protein, but it is by no means a good one. In case you were unaware, as it seems by that interview, feather meal is indigestible at the cellular level. Your new protein source is not something a dog can use. Also, feather meal is at great risk for contamination. Feather meal in a food marketed for allergic dogs is a bad decision, since an allergic dog could have a terrible reaction to one of these contaminants.

Please, truly put the dog at the heart of the innovation process and stop using low quality ingredients like feather meal. Not only is it disgusting to owners, it is not healthy for pets. Do what is right for the animals and remove your new “protein source” and replace it with an ingredient the animal can actually use.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: DianaLobriglio via DeviantArt

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