- The Best Organic Dog Food
- 1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Organic Dog Food
- 2. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food
- 3. Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 4. Taste of The Wild Grain Free High Protein Dry Dog Food
- 5. Avoderm Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
- 6. Newman’s Own Organic Dog Food
- 7. TruDog Feed Me Dried Raw Dog Superfood
- 8. Merrick Grain Free Healthy Dog Food
- 9. Fromm Puppy Dry Dog Food
- 10. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
- 11. Newman’s Own Organic Food for Dogs
- 12. Halo Purely For Pets Organic Dog Food
- 13. Health Extension Grain Free Dog Food
- 14. Holistic Select Organic Dry Dog Food
- 15. Acana Meadowlands Organic Dog Food
- 16. Halo Purely For Pets Vegan Wet Dog Food
- 17. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food
- 18. The Honest Kitchen Organic Dog Food
- 19. Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Dog Food
‘Natural’ has been a major food buzzword over the last few years, and now even your pets can enjoy the benefits of minimally processed natural foods. One prominent example of the natural foods movement is the growth of ‘organic’ produce; in short, foods grown and raised with more traditional farming techniques, designed to reduce the impact that food production has on the environment, and potentially result in more nutritious crops and animal products.
It is hard to find a dog food that’s totally organic. Their recipes rely on a very broad range of ingredients to ensure dogs’ nutritional needs are met, so sourcing entirely organic produce is not often possible. However, foods made from natural, minimally-processed ingredients abound, and we’re here to help you find the right fit for your pooch. We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 dog foods featuring natural or organic ingredients, so you can make an informed decision when it comes to feeding your pet. We’ve also answered some common questions about organic dog foods in particular, so you know exactly what you’re getting when you choose this option.
The Best Organic Dog Food
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Organic Dog Food
Natural recipe dry food, featuring real chicken as its first ingredient
Minimally processed, and easy to digest
Whole grains provide dogs with the carbohydrates they need for regular energy levels
Recipe contains a blend of nourishing vegetables
Patented ‘Lifesource Bits’ contain a blend of essential, immune-supporting vitamins
Formula contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
Recipe mimics a dog’s natural diet
Free from soy, corn, wheat, and artificial preservatives and flavors
Blue Buffalo is a well-known name when it comes to high quality, natural pet foods. Their Life Protection formula places real meat at the forefront, coupled with wholesome veggies, fruits, and whole grains. This particular recipe features real, farm-raised chicken, offering a healthy and easily digestible protein source that your pooch is sure to love.
The blend also contains the complex carbohydrates dogs need for energy, along with omega-3 and 6 fatty acids which promote a shiny coat and healthy skin. Blue Buffalo’s patented ‘Lifesource Bits’ can also be found among the kibble. These tasty bites contain a carefully blended mixture of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, designed to support your dog’s immune system. Each vitamin is extracted from a natural source, so you can rest assured your canine companion enjoys the tasty, omnivorous diet that nature intended. The natural recipe is free from meat by-products, soy, corn, wheat, and artificial flavors and preservatives, making it ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs, too.
2. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food
Natural dry dog food featuring pasture raised beef as its main ingredient
Easy to digest, healthy protein
Carefully selected blend of fruits and vegetables provide all the vitamins and minerals dogs need
Antioxidants support immune system function
Fatty acids promote healthy coat and skin
Natural probiotics support the good bacteria in your dog’s GI tract
Free from corn, wheat, fillers, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
The next healthy dog food to earn a spot on our list is this blend by Diamond Pet Food. The tasty recipe is based around delicious, pasture raised beef, cooked into a form that’s both nutritious, and easy to digest. The carefully balanced recipe is tailored to include all the amino acids adult dogs need to maintain healthy muscle mass, while added vitamins and minerals support their overall health.
As well as premium beef, the recipe features a range of fruits and vegetables that provide the perfect blend of micronutrients. Antioxidants support your pet’s immune system, while a blend of fatty acids helps keep their coat and skin in tip top condition. The food is also tailored to promote digestive health – natural probiotics support good bacteria in the GI tract, helping your dog to maintain regular and comfortable digestion. The recipe is free from corn, wheat, and filler, as well as being made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
3. Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Dry natural dog food
Grain free recipe (free from corn and wheat) is ideal for dogs with allergies
Contains 80% more protein than conventional dog food (turkey and chicken)
Also contains a blend of vegetables
Antioxidants in the food support your pet’s immune system
Fatty acids promote skin and coat health
Probiotics support a healthy digestive system
Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
Free from soy
For pooches with grain allergies, this dry dog food by Wellness Core could be the perfect option. Their grain free dog food offers complete and balanced nutrition for dogs. Featuring 80% more meat than conventional dog foods, Wellness Core’s recipe provides dogs with the high level of protein they would have in the wild.
Alongside this tasty blend of protein rich but easy to digest turkey and chicken, the blend contains a unique blend of vegetables, healthy oils, and vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants support your dog’s immune system, while omega fatty acids help to keep their skin and coat in excellent condition. The recipe also contains probiotics, to support the good bacteria in your pet’s GI tract, encouraging regular digestion. The recipe is free from the most common dog allergens: wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Core’s formula, made in the USA, offers dogs complete and natural nutrition. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey is one of 7 recipes included in our review of the Wellness Core Dog Food.
4. Taste of The Wild Grain Free High Protein Dry Dog Food
Dry grain-free dog food
Made with sustainably sourced, natural ingredients
Bison meat provides the perfect protein profile for dogs
Blend of fruits, vegetables, and superfoods support dogs’ overall health
Antioxidants support a healthy immune system
Fatty acids promote coat and skin health
Probiotics help good GI bacteria thrive, for a healthy digestive system
Free from corn, wheat, and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
Another excellent grain-free option is this tasty blend produced by Taste of the Wild. This unique recipe features a rather unusual protein source – roasted bison! Dogs will love this rich and delicious meat, which possesses an optimal amino acid profile, leading to lean and strong muscles.
Although bison meat is this food’s primary ingredient, the recipe also features a balanced blend of fruits, vegetables, and superfoods, to provide pooches with all the vitamins and minerals they need for a happy and healthy life. These ingredients are a great source of antioxidants, which support healthy immune function, as well as fatty acids to promote healthy skin and hair, and probiotics to help good gut bacteria thrive. The natural recipe is free from corn, wheat, and filler, as well as artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Every bag of Taste of the Wild food is made in the USA, with carefully sources, sustainable ingredients. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Food is one of 9 dog food recipes included in our Taste Of The Wild Dog Food Review.
5. Avoderm Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
Grain-free dry dog food
Natural chicken-meal is the main ingredient, providing tasty, digestible protein
Contains B vitamins to support the metabolism and energy levels
Contains antioxidants to support the immune system
Iron promotes healthy blood
California-grown avocados offer fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coats
Free from artificial colors and preservatives
The next top quality dog food to make our list is by Avoderm. Their patented formula is ideal for pooches suffering from minor skin complains, using avocado to naturally promote a healthy hair and skin. The grain-free formula contains natural chicken meat at its core, combined with a blend of fruits and vegetables designed to provide dogs with all the vitamins and minerals they need to maintain excellent overall health.
The food provides dogs with nutrients including antioxidants, to support proper immune function, B vitamins, to promote a healthy metabolism and energy levels, and iron, for healthy blood. The recipe’s most distinctive feature, however, is the presence of California-grown avocados, which keeps your dog’s skin and coat in tip top condition. The recipe is also free from corn, sot, meat by-products, and artificial colors or preservatives. This makes it a great option for dogs with mild allergies and intolerances, which helps their skin to recover from any adverse reactions.
6. Newman’s Own Organic Dog Food
Dry dog food, featuring organic whole grains and vegetables
Organic brown rice provides the fiber necessary for a healthy digestive tract
Antibiotic-free chicken is a great source of tasty and digestible protein
Free from corn, wheat, and artificial flavors and colors
B vitamins in the food help support dogs’ metabolism
Antioxidants contribute to normal immune function
Crunchy kibble pieces help dogs to keep their teeth clean
Newman’s Own offer one of the best organic dry dog foods about. The tasty formula features natural, unprocessed chicken as its main ingredient, closely followed by a number of organically grown whole grains and vegetables.
Organic brown rice provides dogs with the fiber they need to maintain a healthy digestive tract, while antibiotic-free chicken offers delicious and highly digestible protein. The recipe is also free from wheat, corn, and artificial colors and flavors. The B vitamins added to this blend support dogs’ energy levels, while antioxidants contribute to a healthy immune system. The recipe’s crunchy kibble also helps dogs to keep their teeth clean.
Best of all, 100% of of the profits produced by Newman’s Own foods are donated to charity. Buying this dog food supports great causes such as the Fidelco Guide Dog foundation, Serious Fun Children’s Network, and the Search Dog Foundation.
7. TruDog Feed Me Dried Raw Dog Superfood
Freeze dried, grain-free dog food
Made with organic, free-range beef, raised in the USA
Herring oil in the recipe promotes healthy hair and skin
Antioxidants support healthy immune system
Meat-only formula is great for picky dogs
Free from artificial additives, wheat, corn, sugar, and fillers
Another strong contender for the best all natural dog food is this tasty recipe by TruDog. With their ‘less is more’ mindset, TruDog have put together a great food with quality ingredients. At the heart of the recipe, is grass-fed Wisconsin beef, sourced from free ranging cows only. Alongside the meat itself, a careful blend of beef organs help to provide your dog with the vitamins and minerals they need, naturally.
This organic dog food is produced by freeze-drying each ingredient, ensuring its nutrition is carefully preserved, so you can count on your dog getting everything their body needs with each serving. Unlike other recipes on the market, TruDog’s blend doesn’t contain fruits and vegetables, making it a great option for picky, meat-loving dogs. Herring oil in the formula provides the omega-3 and 6 fatty acids required to keep skin and hair healthy, while naturally occurring antioxidant support healthy immune function. Finally, the recipe is free from wheat, corn, sugar, fillers, and meat by-products.
8. Merrick Grain Free Healthy Dog Food
Dry natural dog food for weight control
Recipe features 55% protein, sourced from minimally processed beef and chicken
Contains less fat and fewer calories than conventional dog foods
Contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat
Antioxidants support your dog’s immune system
Contains plenty of fiber, supporting a healthy digestive system and keeping hunger at bay
Contains glucosamine for healthy joints
For dogs who could stand to lose a little weight, Merrick’s healthy grain-free recipe could be the perfect choice. It has significantly fewer calories and fat per ounce than conventional dog foods, instead relying on healthy protein and fiber to keep canine hunger pangs at bay.
The recipe consists of 55% protein, sourced from beef and chicken, and minimally processed. The remaining 45% of its ingredients are a range of vegetables, packed with the vitamins and minerals pets need for a healthy life. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acid keeps their coat and skin in great condition, while glucosamine supports healthy joints – especially important for larger breeds. The recipe is also rich in naturally occurring antioxidants, to support your pooch’s immune system. It’s also free from grains, and artificial colors and preservatives. Finally, the fiber rich formula promotes healthy digestion and keeps dogs feeling fuller for longer. For more information on the brand, check out our Merrick Dog Food Review.
9. Fromm Puppy Dry Dog Food
Dry puppy food
Natural chicken is the number one ingredient
Higher fat content than adult-oriented food helps puppies grow (18% fat)
Contains plenty of calcium to promote healthy bone and joint growth
Added salmon oil provides omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat
Recipe includes vegetables and whole grains for fiber and vitamins
The second natural puppy food to make our list is this tasty blend by Fromm Family Foods. Their tasty formula relies on all-natural chicken, meat, as well as real cheese for extra calcium and a great flavor.
The recipe is formulated specially for puppies, to ensure they have all the energy they need to grow up strong and healthy. Alongside its chicken base, a mixture of wholesome vegetables, including carrots, celery, and sweet potato, provide the fiber and vitamins puppies need. It has a higher fat content than adult dog foods – 18% minimum, to give puppies the rich diet they need for the rapid growth they undergo. Added salmon oil helps to moisten the food, while also providing the fatty acids needed for healthy overall development, as well as a shiny coat and flake-free skin.
10. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
Dry natural puppy food
Free from meat by-products, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Number one ingredient is farm-raised chicken sourced from the US
DHA in the formula supports healthy brain and sight development
Antioxidant-rich fruits promote a healthy immune system
B vitamins in the recipe support the metabolism
Brown rice provides complex carbohydrates and fiber
The next natural puppy food to earn a spot on our list is this recipe by Rachael Ray Nutrish. Its number one ingredient is farm-raised chicken, sourced from the US, providing a source of healthy, tasty, and easy to digest protein for tiny mouths.
The recipe also contains a source of DHA (a type of fatty acid), promoting brain development and healthy vision. As well as this, the formula is rich in antioxidants, thanks to a carefully selected blend of fruits. These vitamins support the development of your pup’s immune system, which will be essential in later life. The brown rice, carrots, and peas in the food contain a whole host of B vitamins, which help to maintain a healthy metabolism and energy levels. It’s also free from meat by-products, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Read our in-depth Rachael Ray Dog Food review here.
11. Newman’s Own Organic Food for Dogs
Organic wet dog food (70% of ingredients are organically produced)
Organic chicken is the number one ingredient, providing the protein dogs need
Brown rice provides complex carbohydrates, and fiber for a healthy digestive system
B vitamins in the recipe support a healthy metabolism
Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids from flaxseeds promote healthy skin and coat
Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Earning their second spot on our list, Newman’s Own have developed this delicious wet food for dogs with organically raised chicken. In fact, 70% of its ingredients are organic, giving your dog the quality, natural food they deserve. The recipe features unprocessed, organic chicken as its number one ingredient, providing pooches with the delicious meaty protein they crave.
Meanwhile, the organic brown rice in the recipe is great for slow release energy, and also provides the fiber required for a healthy digestive system. A selection of vegetables in the food combine with these ingredients to provide the vitamins and minerals dogs need to maintain their overall health: B vitamins support the metabolism, while omega-3 and 6 fatty acids keep the hair and skin in excellent condition. This blend is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, too.
12. Halo Purely For Pets Organic Dog Food
Dry natural dog food for small dogs
More calorie dense than foods for larger breeds, to cater to the fast metabolisms of smaller dogs
Made with whole chicken as its first ingredient
Meat raised without antibiotics or factory farming
Contains non-GMO whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Provides pets with omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and hair
B vitamins promote healthy energy levels
The next food to earn itself a spot on our list is Halo Holistic’s offering. It’s designed specially for smaller pooches, providing them with the extra calories their fast metabolisms require, in smaller kibbles to better suit their mouths. The food is made with real, whole chicken, unlike many other brands which instead use meat meals. This protein rich yet light meat offers good digestibility, leading to a regular digestive system.
Alongside this whole meat, the recipe contains nourishing whole grains and non-GMO fruits and vegetables. The blend provides your small dog with complete and balanced nutrition, including omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin A, and B vitamins. Halo Holistic never use animals raised with antibiotics, or factory farmed produce in any of their products. It’s also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
13. Health Extension Grain Free Dog Food
Dry grain-free dog food made with organic chicken
Whole chicken is the number one ingredient
Made with unprocessed berries and vegetables for fiber
Contains natural probiotics to support the good bacteria in your dog’s stomach
Free from grains, gluten, soy, artificial preservatives, and artificial colors
Contains calcium to support healthy bones and teeth
Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids promote healthy hair and skin
Health Extension have also found a place on our list with their carefully blended grain-free dog food. Prepared with delicious whole ingredients, the recipe is packed with all the nutrients dogs need for a happy and healthy life.
Its main ingredient is organic, free range chicken, providing a cruelty-free source of protein for your pooch. Alongside the high quality meat, the recipe features whole vegetables and berries, which provide a healthy blend of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Calcium in the recipe promotes healthy bones and teeth, while omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and hair. This food also contains natural prebiotics to support the good bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract. The recipe is totally free from grains, gluten and soy, as well as artificial flavors or preservatives.
14. Holistic Select Organic Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food tailored for large breeds
Contains whole chicken as it primary ingredient
Designed to support digestive health with prebiotic fiber, natural probiotics, digestive enzymes and botanicals
Larger kibbles are perfect for bigger dog breeds
Wholesome grains and vitamins provide the vitamins and minerals your dog needs
Contains vitamin C to support the immune system
Contains B vitamins to support healthy energy levels
Glucosamine supports the joints
The next natural dog food to earn a spot on our list is this tasty recipe by Holistic Select. The formula is crafted specially to promote digestive health: it contains prebiotic fiber, natural probiotics, digestive enzymes and botanicals. These powerful ingredients combine to ensure your dog enjoys great digestive health.
Its larger kibbles and fiber rich formula are ideal for larger breeds, while real chicken forms the basis of the recipe. The chicken is combined with a selection of wholesome grains, fruits, and vegetables, providing a complete blend of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C helps support your dog’s immune system, and B vitamins promote healthy energy levels. The recipe also contains glucosamine to support healthy joints, since heavier dogs put more pressure on joints by nature.
15. Acana Meadowlands Organic Dog Food
Dry flash frozen dog food
Features responsibly sourced meat from the USA
70% meat formula provides the protein rich diet dogs need
30% of the recipe consists of whole fruits and vegetables for well-rounded nutrition
Added zinc supports the immune system and proper cell division
50% of meat in the recipe is fresh and raw
Inspired by fertile lands of Kentucky, Acana’s Meadowlands dog food contains 70% free-range poultry, eggs, and fish. It’s designed to mirror your dog’s evolutionary diet, providing the protein they need for a happy healthy life. 50% of these meat ingredients are fresh and raw, preserving the nutrients within. The meat itself is always USA sourced, from farms which use free range rearing methods.
The remaining 30% of Acana’s recipe features vegetables, fruits, and botanicals, naturally supplying the vitamins and minerals they need for complete health. Among these minerals is zinc, required for proper cell division and immune system support.
16. Halo Purely For Pets Vegan Wet Dog Food
Wet vegan dog food, suitable for dogs with animal protein allergies
Natural protein derived from chickpeas and legumes
Flaxseed delivers omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
B vitamin supplements promote a healthy metabolism and high energy levels
Dogs love the wholesome taste
Made from non-GMO grains and vegetables
Making their second entry onto our list is Halo Holistic, with their surprisingly protein-packed vegan dog food. Evidence suggests that dogs are omnivores; many can, and do, thrive on a vegan diet, provided the food they consume is considered carefully. For instance, dogs with allergies to certain animal proteins could benefit from replacing meat with plant proteins.
Halo Holistic derive their vegan protein from chickpeas and legumes. Flaxseed delivers the same omega-3 and 6 fatty acids as fish oil, keeping your dog’s coat and skin healthy, while B vitamin supplements support their metabolism and keep energy levels high. The recipe is free from meat, dairy, corn, and wheat. All of its ingredients are non-GMO, and sustainably sourced.
17. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food
Dry natural dog food
Healthy lamb meal is the main ingredient
Free from corn, soy, meat by-products and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
Fiber from whole grains and vegetables promote healthy digestion
Antioxidants in the food support your dog’s immune system
Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids keep dogs’ skin and coat healthy
The next natural dog food to earn a spot on our list is this tasty dry food by Eagle Pack. The recipe contains delicious lamb meal as its main ingredient, providing dogs with the protein packed diet they need for overall health.
Made without corn, soy, or meat by-products, the formula is ideal for pets with sensitive stomachs or grain allergies. It’s also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, so you can rest assured only natural ingredients are allowed in. Along with the protein-rich lamb meal, the food contains a unique blend of wholesome grains and vegetables, providing your dog with fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Combined, these nutrients support your dog’s overall health, from their immune system to their coats.
18. The Honest Kitchen Organic Dog Food
Dehydrated, natural dog food – serve by adding hot water
Human grade food processing
Protein rich formula based around ranch-raised beef
Higher levels of fat than adult dog food supports puppies through this time of intensive growth
Contains calcium to support the development of teeth and bones
Contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for brain development and a healthy coat and skin
The Honest Kitchen believe that man’s best friend should eat just as well as their owners, and they’ve proven this with their human grade dehydrated puppy food. At its heart, the recipe features delicious ranch-raised beef. The protein rich formula gives dogs the nutrition they need for healthy muscle mass and overall well-being. For more options, check out our detailed review of dehydrated dog food.
The grain-free blend features higher levels of calories and fat than adult dog foods, giving pups all the energy they need for their intensive growth spurts. A mixture of dehydrated sweet potato and kale, along with a few other supplements, provide all the vitamins and minerals growing pups need. Calcium in the food supports teeth and bone development, while omega-3 and 6 fatty oils help both brain development and healthy skin and hair. All the ingredients are non-GMO, and carefully sourced. To serve, simply rehydrate the mix with hot water.
19. Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Dog Food
Dry organic dog food designed to cater to senior dogs
Features organic, free-range chicken as a delicious and easily digestible protein source
Glucosamine supports healthy joints
Recipe includes a number of superfoods
Free from GMO ingredients
Free from artificial colors and preservatives
Another contender for the best organic dog food is this tasty Castor & Pollux recipe. The patented blend is based around organic free-range chicken, a delicious and easily digestible source of protein for mature pooches.
Along with this poultry base, added glucosamine supports healthy joints. The recipe is also packed with superfoods, giving your pooch the unique blend of vitamins and minerals they need for overall health and happiness. Each ingredient is sourced from producers who don’t use chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, or antibiotics. The recipe is also free from artificial preservatives.
Best Organic Dog Food Buying Guide & FAQ
These 20 products are our top picks when it comes to natural and organic dog food. The wide variety on offer is great for dog lovers, but having so many choices at your fingertips can also prove a little overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this handy buying guide, helping you to work out which option is right for your dog. We’ve also answered some common questions about what counts as organic food, and the advantages it has over other its conventionally farmed counterparts.
Ingredients to Look for in Organic Dog Food
When choosing organic dog food for your pet, deciphering ingredient lists can be a challenge. Luckily, there are a few key things to look out for, which let you know that the food you’ve chosen is a good quality option:
- Meat and Meat Meals
In natural dog food, unless you’re purchasing a vegan option, a recognizable meat, or ‘meat meal’ should be the first ingredient listed. This demonstrates that the food is properly tailored to the relatively high protein requirements of domestic dogs, and will properly sustain their muscle mass. Take a look at our review of the best high protein dog foods for more options.
- Whole Grains
Unless your dog suffers from a grain allergy or intolerance, seeing whole grains (such as brown rice) in dog food is a good sign. These unprocessed grains provide slow-release carbohydrates, along with a whole lot of fiber. This keeps dogs regular in the digestive department and is a much healthier choice for good gut bacteria than a refined grain.
- Fruits and Vegetables
In most natural dog foods, fruits and vegetables will be included to provide dogs with the blend of vitamins and minerals they need for general health. In a high quality option, you’ll see recognizable, whole vegetables listed on the ingredients label.
Ingredients to Avoid When Buying an Organic Dog Food
On the other hand, there are plenty of ingredients, used by a surprisingly high number of dog food companies, which you wouldn’t want your dog to ingest:
This tough-to-pronounce additive is a synthetic preservative found in many pet foods. Long-term exposure to ethoxyquin has been linked to kidney damage, liver damage, immune deficiency, and even cancer.
- Meat By-products
If a dog food label lists a meat ‘by-product’, it’s best avoided. Meat by-products do not contain actual muscle, and sometimes contains diseased tissues, or even tumors.
- Propylene Glycol
This particular ingredient is also found in antifreeze. It reduces the moisture content of dog food, and also prevents bacterial growth. Just like humans, dogs have a delicately balanced colony of bacteria in their GI tracts, and ingredients with such powerful anti-bacterial properties can prevent them from performing their digestive function. It also reduces the moisture found in food as it passes through your dog’s system, which can lead to blockages and even cancer.
Butylated-hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated-hydroxytoluene (BHT), are two more artificial preservatives that pose a danger to your dog if ingested. It can trigger liver damage in dogs, and is directly linked with the development of cancer in both canines and humans.
- Corn Syrup
Used to sweeten things up in dog food and human food alike, corn syrup is not a healthy choice. When dogs ingest too much sugar, they increase their risk of weight gain, diabetes, and even behavioral changes such as hyperactivity.
Dry, Canned or Raw?
When it comes to choosing a natural dog food, you have a few different options, each of which has its own pros and cons:
- Dry Foods
Dry foods tend to offer the best nutritional value - and value for money - pound for pound. They’re easy to store, long-lasting, and available in a wide variety of flavors. The main disadvantage of dry foods is that their nutrition is very concentrated. This might seem like an advantage, but it makes overfeeding your pet, leading to weight gain and its attendant problems, much easier. Some pooches also find dry food less appealing, and it’s a good idea to moisten it with some water (or gravy as an occasional treat) before feeding.
- Canned Foods
Canned dog food is usually the most expensive way to feed a dog, but it does have some advantages. The food is less calorie-rich than its dry counterparts, so dogs can eat more by volume without weight worries. It also helps maintain proper hydration, thanks to its increased water content. Some dogs simply prefer the texture to dry or raw food, while for dogs with dental problems the soft pieces are easier to eat.
- Raw Foods
Raw dog foods have a similar appearance to their dried counterparts. The difference is that the ingredients in raw food are typically freeze-dried rather than cooked. This makes for a softer texture than your average kibble, and tends to preserve more of the food’s nutritional value. This is because cooking alters the shape of an ingredients molecules, in a process called denaturing. This changes its nutritional content slightly, and can cause nutrients to leak away. Raw foods are often the most nutrient-rich, but can also be the most expensive.
Homemade Organic Dog Food
If you’re feeling creative, you can also make your own organic dog food at home, by combining organic meat, whole grains, and vegetables. Simply cook the meat in a skillet, before adding it to a large pot alongside brown rice and water, simmering for 15 minutes. Next, add a selection of vegetables (we recommend carrots and broccoli) for 5 to 10 minutes, allow to cool, and serve.
Just remember that the best organic dog food brands offer complete nutrition for your pooch, and this can be hard to recreate in a domestic kitchen. If you do decide to make your own organic dog food, we recommend supplementing it with a good quality purchased option.
Our Top Pick
When it comes to natural dog foods, our favorite has to be Blue Buffalo’s. Their affordable but high quality recipe always puts real meat first, providing your pooch with the protein they need to live a healthy life. Alongside this meat, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, provide the vitamins and minerals dogs need. The recipe also features unique Lifesource Bits; tasty kibbles containing antioxidants and vitamins designed specifically to cater to your dog’s needs.
These antioxidants support the immune system, while omega-3 and 6 fatty acids promote healthy skin and hair. It’s also free from a host of potential allergens - soy, corn, meat by-products, artificial flavors and preservatives.
Q: What does organic dog food mean?
Organic foods are produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation, growth hormones, or antibiotics.
In short, they’re grown using natural alternatives to industrial farming methods. It takes three years for land to be converted to organic status, to ensure there are no residual synthetic chemicals in food that is labelled ‘organic’.
Q: Why is organic dog food better?
Although there is no definitive evidence that organic foods are nutritionally better than their non-organic counterparts, research from the university of California found that organic tomatoes contain higher levels of vitamin C than their non-organic counterparts.
Currently, the thought is that, without chemical pesticides, plants are forced to produce a higher volume of phytochemicals. These chemicals protect the plant from pests and disease, and are thought to have health benefits ranging from reducing the risk of cancer to improving the immune system.
Organic farming methods are also better for the environment, because they do not release pesticides and fertilizers that can have negative effects on the ecosystem.
Q: What is the percentage of organic ingredients needed to be labeled as organic?
The USDA’s Organic seal guarantees that the ingredients in the food you’re holding were produced organically.
However, what proportion of the ingredients are organic varies. There are three different categories of organic food to be aware of:
‘100% organic’ - all ingredients in the product were produced organically
‘Organic’ - at least 95% of the ingredients in the product are organic
‘Made with organic ingredients’ - at least 70% of ingredients are organic, and the remaining 30% contain no GMOs
Q: Are all organic ingredients also non-GMO?
Yes. To be considered organic, farmers cannot use genetically modified organisms. This matches the overarching philosophy of the organic movement; returning to more traditional, less intensive farming methods, with less human manipulation.
- Organic Pet Foods: Optimal Health or Overhyped? - Cummings Veterinary Medical Center