Dog Food Comparison. Natural and Organic Dog Food
All Natural Dog Food — Hype or Hope?
It’s hard to go down the pet aisle in the stores without seeing several brands of natural and all natural dog food. But are these terms hype or hope? It certainly seems like these days, our pets have more medical problems than ever before from allergies to food intolerance to arthritis.
I just don’t remember any of my dogs as I was growing up having any of these problems. Perhaps they did and we just didn’t notice, but dogs weren’t immediate members of the family like they are now they were pets, that’s it, just pets.
Is the low quality commercial dog food to blame for our dogs’ medical problems? Will switching to an all natural dog food help improve the quality of our pets’ lives? That’s on the fence many people are screaming ‘YES feed quality and your dog’s health will improve’, while others are saying ‘no way you’re just wasting your money’. After all, some people have fed their dogs very low quality dog food for years with no problems.
Me, I’m one of the ones screaming ‘YES’. Now, will I say that if I kept feeding inferior brands of dog food to my dogs that that would kill them? No, I’d need proof to go that far. But from my actual experience I can say that my dogs’ health has definitely improved since feeding them quality, nutritious packed foods.
But finding the quality, nutrient rich dog food isn’t necessarily easy. Manufacturers are preying on our relationship with our dogs (or as I’ve heard called ‘fur-kids’). And unfortunately, there is a lack of regulation as to what terms mean and when they can be used, especially in dog products. Using words such as ‘holistic’, ‘all natural’, and ‘natural’ dog food make pet owners feel good about what they are buying. But just because that is on the bag of food doesn’t mean there is any guarantee in the nutritional value of the food. You still need to be on your toes and look closely at the ingredients.
Organic Dog Food Comparison
I decided to do an organic dog food comparison. There is a lot of controversy over what is considered an organic dog food. Although the organic definitions and guidelines are stricter than other labeling on dog foods, there is still room for confusion. Therefore, as always, Buyer Beware look at the ingredients in your dog food before buying to be sure of what you are getting.
‘Organic’, as defined by the FDA, means 100% organic ingredients (no synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones). Organic refers to how foods are grown, not how they are processed. I think the best dog foods out there are 95% certified organic (I don’t know if any are 100%, as some vitamins and minerals are not available in organic form and must be used to create a complete, balanced diet). Most dog foods that are considered organic, are actually classified as ‘made with organic ingredients’ by the FDA as they use at least 70% organic ingredients.
To compare organic dog foods, look at the dog food ingredients and see which ones are not organic. Are they further down the list, or near the top? Is your dog allergic or have any reactions to pesticides, fertilizers, or antibiotics? All of these play into how to compare organic dog foods to get the best one for your dog. Of all the dog foods that claim to be organic, some top quality organic dog foods are:
- Natura’s Karma
- Newman’s Own Organic
- Castor & Pollux Organix
- Nature’s Variety Raw Food Diets
So, is an organic dog food also natural? If it’s not, do NOT buy it. What’s the difference? Organic refers to how the food is grown, natural refers to the processed food. Natural dog food cannot use any chemical or synthetic flavorings, colorings, or preservatives. If you find an organic dog food that is not also natural, that should be a BIG red flag for consumers.
Why does organic, or even natural, matter? Because artificial coloring, preservatives, pesticides, growth-hormones, and fertilizers are often tied to a lot of dog food allergies and illnesses. By first going to an organic and natural dog food, many people see their dog’s food allergies are relieved tremendously.
It should be noted that neither of these terms, organic or natural, say anything about the quality of the ingredients, only how they are grown or processed. I say this only because it seems there is ALWAYS someone/some-company out there that will exploit these terms and actually provide an inferior dog food to make a bigger profit.
Keep your guard up and look at the ingredients and the companies! When doing a dog food comparison, look first at the company and how it operate that will tell you a lot. Then look at the dog food ingredients label. This is the only way to really do a thorough dog food comparison.
Dog Food Comparisons: Organic vs All Natural
Which is better: organic dog food or all natural? Dog food comparisons can show what is different between the two types of dog food, but only your dog can determine which is best for them.
However, comparing organic and all natural dog foods is technically like comparing apples to oranges. When people think ‘all natural’, they automatically think ‘organic’ as well. But the terms are not interchangeable as far as dog food is concerned.
All natural dog food is the way in which the ingredients are processed. Natural means no artificial or chemical preservatives, like BHA, BHT, or Ethoxyquin. Natural preservatives, such as Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and Vitamin E (tocopherols) are commonly used in natural dog food. All natural dog food also contains no artificial flavorings or colorings. Chemical additives are a common source of food intolerance and allergies in dogs.
Organic tells the way in which the food is grown or raised. For plants, that means no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. For animals, it means no antibiotics or growth hormones as well as being raised free-range (not stuck in ‘housing’, but the ability to roam the land.) Now, most organic dog foods will also be all natural (after all, if you’re going to that much trouble to be organic, then why add chemicals during the processing), but being categorized ‘organic’ tells nothing about how the food is processed, only grown.
So making dog food comparisons between organic or all natural dog foods doesn’t really do anyone any good. Is it better to have pesticides in the food or chemical preservatives? What’s more harmful to your dog, growth hormones or artificial colorings? Although the best dog food will not contain any of these thereby being both organic AND all natural it will also be more expensive, as the growing and processing of the ingredients is more expensive.
Only you can determine which is needed for your pet. If money is not a problem, then I would just switch to an organic and all natural dog food. If the cost of dog food is an issue and your dog has allergies or health problems, I’d probably start with all natural dog food for a couple of months and see if conditions improve. Then I’d work my way up to organic if needed.
Can Cheap Dog Food Be Healthy?
I was recently asked if a cheap dog food can be healthy. The answer for the most part is ‘no’. Dog food is made cheaply by using lots of low quality and by-product ingredients.
So what can you do if all you can afford is cheap dog food? If it were me, I would supplement the food I could afford with multi-vitamins and/or human vegetables and meats.
One of the easiest ways to supplement is to use human food. Look for bargains while you grocery shop. When frozen vegetables go on sale, I stock up, especially the store brands. I’ll grab a couple of different types of vegetables and throw them in the blender with some water. My daughter calls them vegetable smoothies for the dogs. Other things I look for on sale are cottage cheese and yogurt. Just by adding these things in with cheap dog food can help boost the nutritional value of their food.
Another supplement to cheap dog food would definitely be a multi-vitamin. You can get a good multi-vitamin for around 25 cents a day. That’s not much to help keep your dog healthy and less prone to illness and allergies.
The following are the things I would look at when comparing cheap dog foods to see which would be best for my dog:
Flavorings/preservatives/colorings:. I stay away from foods that have flavorings added if you’ve got to flavor it, it’s probably no good. For preservatives, look for natural ones, like vitamin C & E (ascorbic acid & tocopherols) stay away from BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin, which can cause health problems. For colorings, it’s just not needed your dog doesn’t care and it’s just more artificial things in their body that they have to overcome. Basically, stay as natural as possible.
Unidentified meat sources: meat, meat by-product, poultry, poultry by-product, fish, etc .when the source is not identified you just don’t know what you are getting. This is a huge red flag for me.
Too much grain: if grains or grain-byproducts are the majority of the first 5 ingredients, then the chances that your dog will develop allergies or food intolerance are greater. Although dogs are omnivores, their main source of protein should be meat they don’t process grain protein as well and efficiently as meat protein. If I could only afford a high grain dog food, I would really try to supplement with raw meat and or eggs.
Cheap dog food really isn’t healthy, but if that is all your budget will allow, you really should try to supplement with multi-vitamins and raw human ingredients if at all possible. Even if it is only a couple of days a week, your dog will be able to stay healthier.
Are The Best Dog Foods All Natural?
My friends know all about my healthy obsession with healthy dog food and ask me what are the best dog foods. Should they be all natural dog foods, or maybe holistic? There is a lot of confusion just in the naming of foods alone. I have a fairly good grasp on it and it still makes my head spin!
For me, it’s all about getting the best dog food I can for my budget. We are still raising two kids at home so I can’t just go out and buy the best dog food which for me, would be raw meat with freeze-dried or dehydrated, all-natural and organic kibble with a multi-vitamin supplement thrown in. And maybe when our kids are off on their own, we will be able to feed our dogs like this. But for now, I just compare dog foods and find the best ones I can without going over my budget.
So are the all natural dog foods the best? I personally would pick an all-natural dog food for my budget. All natural means no artificial/chemical preservatives, flavorings, or coloring. Think about those things.
First, do you really want a dog food that can sit on the shelf for 1 to 2 years? That is what the artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin do for your dog food, along with being linked to certain health problems in dogs. Natural preservatives are the only way to go: Vitamin E (tocopherols) and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are the top natural preservatives.
Next, why does your dog food need flavorings? If there is a substantial amount of meat and good quality grains/vegetables/etc, then there is no reason to have to flavor anything. The truth is, the artificial flavoring put on dog food is there because your dog will not eat it. The flavoring is fat, sprayed on the outside of the kibble, strictly to entice your dog to eat it. Kind of like flavoring kids’ medicine, no purpose other than to get it down. Do you really want to feed your dog something like that?
And finally, artificial coloring. Who do you think that is for? Do you think your dog cares one bit about whether the kibble is brown, red, or green? The dog food companies do that so that when WE look at it we see ‘red: meat’, ‘green: vegetables’, and ‘brown:grains’. Your dog doesn’t care about what it looks like, but their immune system must deal with an artificial coloring that they may be sensitive to (as many humans are.)
So for me, the best dog foods are definitely all natural and the only way I go with my dogs. But once you pick out an all natural food, you must look at the ingredients and figure out if it is any good. Sorry, sometimes I feel like all I ever say is ‘look at the dog food ingredients’, but until there is stricter legislation on dog food labeling, this really is the only way.
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