Hold your horses. We know you’ve been brainwashed by all the manufacturers about all the wonders and miracles that only an organic dog food can perform. But if you could just settle down with us for a bit, you might find out a few things about “organic dog food” that manufacturers are hiding from you.
Don’t be too hard on them, though, we’re sure they meant no malicious intent. Probably.
We’re sorry to burst your bubble but we promise you that everything will make sense in a bit. Just stay with us.
Now, we’ve got to mention that we’ve all got so many things wrong for such a long time. In the first place…
What Is Natural Dog Food?
When a particular dog food is labeled “natural”, we are strictly referring to the intrinsic trait of a particular ingredient. That is, whether it was grown naturally or synthesized in the lab. It doesn’t take into cognizance the factors that enabled growth. Whether pesticides, antibiotics, or growth stimulators were used on the source plant/animal or not is not a factor.
However, to remain natural, it must not pass through any chemical processes in the making of the pet food. Also, no chemical additive must be included in the processing of pet food that would be termed “natural”.
What Is Organic Dog Food?
Organic dog food is any dog food where the total life cycles of all the ingredients involved are devoid of any trace of chemicals or additives whatsoever. This means, therefore, that none of the ingredients used was exposed to pesticides, growth stimulators, antibiotics, or other such additives in the course of its life.
Compared to natural dog food, organic dog food is more holistic. Where “natural” only focuses on the trait and the processing, organic is a little more detailed. The start to finish of the ingredient’s life must be completely wholesome and devoid of any trace of chemical.
So, yep, organic takes “natural” a step further. Get it now?
Now, let’s look at their official definitions.
AAFCO Definition of Natural Dog Food
According to the AAFCO, a natural feed refers to (we’ll just go ahead and quote them literatim since they are the bosses here):
“A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”
Okay, that was quite an eyeful! But if you read the short explanation we gave in the previous section, then you have a pretty good idea what all that was about.
Oh! One more thing to note, the AAFCO gives an exception to chemically synthetic ingredients which might be unavoidable in the manufacturing of certain natural feeds. So, according to the AAFCO, a few traces of chemically synthesized vitamins, for instance, doesn’t mean that a feed isn’t natural.
However, if these substances are included, a manufacturer is mandated to put a disclaimer on their product. For instance, they could say “With Minerals and Vitamins” to show that their natural product also contains some synthetic essentials.
Great. So, up next, organic food.
AAFCO Definition of Organic Dog Food
So, here’s what happens…
Remember the USDA? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)? We will get to them in a bit. Just keep them in mind.
Since there are no standards guiding organic pet foods, standards have been borrowed from the human guidelines.
So, if a pet food maker declares their food organic, the claim must follow these guidelines. And the USDA guys we mentioned earlier make sure that those standards are met.
So, what are those standards? They are many the following are some major points.
- Production of the ingredient, whether grain or plant must not involve applying synthetic fertilizers, or pesticides. It must also not include the use of genetic modification (GMOs) as well.
- If meat from poultry or other animals, such animals must have been raised without synthetic growth enhancers be they hormones or antibiotics.
- Animals must also be kept on a strictly organic diet. Plus they must be free to roam the outdoors.
Any manufacturer that makes his product to fit all of these criteria, will be eligible to earn a certificate from the USDA. Yeah, pretty much like earning a college degree.
Check out these other articles:
- Hypoallergernic Dog Food: Feeding Dogs With Allergies
- Low-Residue Dog Food: The What, Why, When, and How.
- Low Fat Dog Food — Managing Canine Obesity and Pancreatitis
- Dog Footwear — Paws Are Feet, Not Footwear
- Dog Training Collar: All You Need To Know
- Durable Dog Beds — Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie
Understanding The Labeling On The Packaging Of Organic Products
- If a package displays the organic seal from USDA and reads “100% organic”, then it consists of 100% organic ingredients.
- If the package displays just the organic seal from the USDA, then it contains at least 95% organic ingredients.
- Now, if the product contains 70 to 95% organic ingredients, then it cannot display the organic seal from the USDA. But it can state on its package that it’s made with organic ingredients. Also, the package can list about three of the constituent organic ingredients too.
- If the product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, then, of course, no seal. But it can list the organic ingredients used. However, it cannot display “organic” on the product packaging.
So, to conclude, organic foods are great and healthy. Although there hasn’t been any scientific proof showing what exactly they do for animals, we, at least, know that they are good for our planet.
So, if you want the truth, raw feed is actually best for your dog, nutritionally and otherwise. If you can get completely organic raw bones, meat, vegetables, that would be great. But that would also cost you a fortune, plus, they aren’t as convenient as kibble.
But if you must get organic food, go for products that contain a lot of meat, good protein, lots of good animal fat and high moisture content. They are quite expensive but well worth it and way better than commercial dog food.
If, on the other hand, you can’t afford to buy the really expensive organic dog food touted by marketers, remember something we said earlier. Significant improvement in dog health did not come from switching to organic food. But it did come from switching to something more similar to what they are genetically designed to eat.
We hope you get it now.
Organic Dog Food — Related FAQs
1. What Is The Best Organic Dog Food?
Here is a list of 10 of the best organic dog foods:
i. Newman’s Own Organic Dog Food
ii. Organix Organic Canned Adult Dog Food
iii. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Dry Dog Food
iv. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Dog Food
v. Lily’s Kitchen Organic Chicken and Spelt Supper for Dogs
vi. Evanger’s Grain Free Organic Food for Dogs
vii. Tender & True Pet Food Organic Dog Food
viii. TruDog Real Meat Dog Food
ix. Kirkland Signature Organic Dog Food
x. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Grain Chicken Dog Food
2. Is Organic Dog Food Better?
Organic foods are great. As a matter of fact, they are usually very healthy. However, there isn’t much evidence that supports organic dog foods being much better than the rest with regard to your dog’s nutrition.
Like we already said, “organic” does not have a set definition by the AAFCO. So, whatever you see as organic on the packaging, many times, is whatever the manufacturer decides.
However, Dr Will Falconer (DVM), a certified veterinary homeopath, has this to say about the relationship between organic dog food and dog health…
In his over two decades of practice, he confessed that a switch to organic foods did not necessarily translate to healthier pets. What did, however, was a switch from kibble to home-prepared food. Dogs ended up with shinier fur, increased energy and greater immunity to chronic diseases. If there was any change at all, Dr Falconer records it as imperceptible.
3. What To Consider Before Getting Organic Dog Food
The very first thing you always have to check before purchasing any organic dog food is the label! There really is no bigger advice anyone can offer you than to read the label of the food you are about to buy.
When you look at a label — in case you didn’t know it — ingredients are listed in order of their quantity; those with the highest quantity beginning the list. Now, sometimes, a dog food product can claim to be organic and then contain more of non-organic chicken and chicken meal as well as organic grains.
Is this good for your pooch?
Short answer, no!
4. What Are The Top 5 Healthiest Dog Foods?
i. Nature’s Logic Dry Dog Food
ii. Nulo Freestyle Dry Dog Food
iii. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
iv. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Dry Dog Food
v. Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food
5. What Dog Food Is Killing Dogs
Basically, any dog food that contains excess amounts of Vitamin D could kill your dog. Vitamin D is fat soluble, and is usually stored in fatty tissues and in the liver. Because of this, it is prone to rising to really toxic levels, which, of course, could be really disastrous for your dog.
This is not to say that Vitamin D is completely dangerous for your dog. Your dog needs his Vitamin D, just not in excess quantity.
6. What Are The Top 10 Dog Foods?
i. Taste of the Wild Wet Dog Food
ii. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food
iii. Nutro MAX Adult Dry Dog Food
iv. Halo Wet Dog Food
v. Instinct Original Wet Dog Food
vi. Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Dry Dog Food
vii. Eukanuba Canned Dog Food
viii. Iams Proactive Health Adult Dry Dog Food
ix. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food
x. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food