Why They Put Sawdust in Commercial Dog Food

by | Dog Nutrition | 4 comments


When you buy a bag of premium dog food, the last thing you expect to find in it is ground up pine trees. It might come as a surprise to some, but not to me. Sawdust in dog food? Makes you wonder what else they put in the stuff doesn’t it!

If you see the term ‘derivatives of vegetable origin’ (sometimes listed as ‘vegetable protein extracts’) on a bag of commercial dog food or on a packet of dog treats, one of those derivatives/extracts is likely to be cellulose. That cellulose will be powdered cellulose otherwise known as wood pulp. A material obtained by either chemically or mechanically separating cellulose fibres from wood. Yes, there really is sawdust in dog food!


All dogs need fibre in their diet. When you make homemade food for your dog as I do for mine, you’ll add ingredients such as leafy greens, kale, rolled oats, peas and carrots to provide fibre.

There are any number of natural ingredients which will help keep your dog regular. And these provide nutrients as well as fibre.

But when you’re a commercial dog food manufacturer, you’re hell-bent on maximising profits at any cost. So you’ll use sawdust for fibre because it’s cheap. Notwithstanding the fact that research indicates that the insoluble fibre in cellulose could actually be detrimental for a dog. That it could be making it more difficult for your dog to digest and assimilate the nutrients in its food.


To add insult to injury, one premium brand dog food manufacturer even proudly boasts on its website that powdered cellulose gives its food an extra crunch. What else would it do? It started life as a piece of wood. It’s sawdust.

At the same time dog food manufacturers are telling you not to feed dogs people food because it’s bad for them, they’re feeding your dog powdered conifer and bragging about it!


Of all the questionable ingredients in commercial dog food, the use of powdered pine tree is considered the most controversial.

Yes, with proper preparation, parts of the pine tree can be eaten by those with extreme survival skills. Especially to sustain life when no other source of food is available. But here we’re talking about an ingredient in the dog food unwitting pet parents are choosing to feed their best friend every day of its life. Believing they are doing their best for their beloved pet.

And besides, when it comes to the commercial processing of pine trees, once the pine bark has gone through the chemical or mechanical processes necessary to separate out the fibre from the wood, there’s hardly likely to be any goodness left anyway. Which just about makes this particular ingredient nothing more than cheap filler. Why else would you put sawdust in dog food?

Homemade dog food is nutritious, healthy and easy to make with this simple step-by-step guide. Complete with recipes and instructions.


Wood pulp is excellent for making toilet paper. It’s brilliant for making cardboard boxes and is just great for making bath towels, nail polish and ping pong balls. What wood pulp should never be is an ingredient in dog food!


1. Powdered cellulose has the lowest food value of any fibre. Fact!
2. Termites can digest cellulose, dogs can’t. Fact!
3. Cellulose is nothing more than a cheap filler. Fact!
4. Cellulose is in commercial dog food to bulk up your dog’s stool. Fact!
5. Powdered cellulose is sawdust. Fact!

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.


  1. Cindy

    I’ve also read that powdered cellulose absorbs vitamins and minerals and sweeps them away as it passes through the animals digestive tract. It would be absolutely detrimental to an animal, especially if fed exclusively and long term. Thank you for your article.

    • Gerald Pepin, The Canine Nutritionist

      You’re absolutely right, Cindy. What makes it even more disgraceful is the fact that commercial dog food manufacturers boast about the use of powdered cellulose as if it was beneficial for dogs. It’s a pity more pet parents aren’t aware that ‘powdered cellulose’ is actually sawdust. An ingredient that is not only completely devoid of nutrients, but one that actually removes what few nutrients there are in commercial dog food in the first place

    • Sherry Dale Adkins

      Is there any commercial dog food that does NOT contain sawdust?

  2. Maxie Stires

    Terrific article!


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