Natural Dog Food
What is Natural Dog Food?
there is no clear definition for natural dog food, first we’ll give you our thoughts on how we see dog food as being natural. We essentially think of this
category as human grade dog food. It consists of human grade ingredients and has no artificial preservatives or colorings. Natural dog food keeps
processing to a minimum to keep the nutritional value of the ingredients
If we use that definition, then natural dog food would include:
- Raw dog food and BARF diets
- Organic dog food (there are government standards for a pet food to be labeled as ‘organic’)
- Holistic dog food
We consider home made dog food a special category, but normally home-made pet foods would fit in this category too.
dog food companies, mostly the smaller ones, focus on these
quality dog food products. They appeal to the ‘Back to Nature’ trend. The ingredients for natural pet foods differ in the way they are grown, handled and processed.
Will You Recognize a
Natural Dog Food?
Don’t go by the dog food labels and ads, instead first read the dog food
ingredients. The AAFCO Nutrient Profiles list minimum required
amounts but can't really talk about quality. Here is how to recognize quality when reading the ingredient list.
• Chemical Preservatives
• Corn, Wheat, and Soy
• Artificial Colorings
- Look for NAMED, identifiable, high quality animal proteins such as "chicken meal" rather generic terms like "poultry meal," which can consist of any fowl (turkey, chicken, geese, etc.).
- Avoid the cheaper protein sources such as poultry by-products, meat and bone meal and also stay away from protein fillers, corn gluten meal, egg product meal and wheat gluten.
- Look for whole grains and starches (brown rice, barley, sweet potato) and whole vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, alfalfa etc).
- Avoid refined and processed carbohydrates such as refined flours, mill runs, brewer’s rice, dehydrated potatoes, tomato pumice and alfalfa meal.
Fats and Oils
- Again look for named sources so chicken fat, lamb fat, herring oil, sunflower oil etc. In all of
these examples the exact source is mentioned. This is one simple method
to differentiate dog food by quality.
- Avoid fats from non-specific sources. You’ll recognize names like poultry fat, animal fat or vegetable oil on the dog food label.
- Natural dog food of course should have natural preservatives.
These include mixed tocopherols or vitamin E. Shelf life will be
shorter compared to artificial preservatives, but I suppose you
wouldn’t want to buy two years of dog food upfront anyway.
- Avoid synthetic preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin is approved as preservative for pet food but not human food, so that
says enough I think. We’re here to find the best dog food, not the
- Who needs them? Your dog certainly couldn’t care less. Typically a case of ‘less is more’
Preservatives - BHA,
· By-Products - like beaks,
feet, feathers, heads
Wheat, or Soy - known
or Beef Fat - which is indigestible
Color or Flavor
or Corn Syrup
Digest - guts
· Any kind of Flour
What Should You Expect
From A Natural Dog Food?
Even though they normally are more healthy, no claims or guarantees can be given that Natural Foods are
better for your pet than extruded foods. Choosing
a holistic or organic dog food is sometimes about morals.
you don’t want meat that comes from animals that are given antibiotics
or growth hormones. When you also don’t want to be involved in
artificial methods like bio-engineering or ionizing radiation than
organic dog food certainly is a good choice. Note that natural and
organic are not interchangeable. A food can only be labeled as
‘organic’ when at least 95% of the ingredients are organic.
But the proof is in the pudding: how well is you dog doing on it and does he or she like the smell and taste of the food? That’s what matters most.
When choosing healthy dog food there are a number of factors to consider. The first thing to understand is that a typical dog's diet should consists of 40% meat, 30% fiber and 30% starch. You should always choose pet food with this ingredient ratio. Read the guaranteed analysis on the bag to be certain you have made a healthy dog food choice.
Next, you should always ensure that the first ingredient listed on the healthy dog food label is a form of animal protein such as chicken or pork, but avoid all meat by-products. Cornmeal is often used as filler and is not considered a good quality source for protein. Avoid all animal digest and animal fat which most dogs find nearly indigestible. Lamb is another great protein source, and most brands of healthy dog food offer lamb selections. Also be aware of the amount and type of preservatives that are used. Preservatives may be necessary to keep the food edible, but they do not have to be artificial chemicals that may cause cancer. Vitamin E & vitamin C are often used as preservatives are much healthier for your dog.
Always choose premium brand healthy dog foods instead of economy brand dog foods. Many cheaper brands often use unhealthy ingredients which may prove to be detrimental to your pet’s health. We recommend that you consult your dog’s veterinarian before making any kind of switch in her diet or in order to select the brand of healthy dog food that best suits your dog’s breed, lifestyle, and digestive track. Often it is your vet that can choose the best options. If cost or availability is a factor, be sure to tell your vet or search for healthy dog food on any number of websites that sell and ship all types of food anywhere in the country.