The average household spends $183 each year on pet food, which is more than they spend on candy, chicken, bread, or cereal. This amount is rising each year at a quicker rate than the number of pet dogs, showing that owners are splashing out on more expensive foods. Keep reading to find out the benefits of feeding your dog a natural diet.
Terms like “natural” and “organic” commonly appear on dog food, but what guidelines does a product need to meet before making these claims? An organic and natural diet is certainly beneficial for dogs in many ways, including improving their skin, coat, energy levels, and resulting in fewer allergies. Many commercial dog food producers take advantage of this without having a product that can fully back it up.
The Problem With Most Commercial Dog Foods
Many pet foods contain gluten and gluten meal, which is a dried residue made from corn added to dry food to stop unstable fats from going bad and increasing the shelf life of the product. Unfortunately, this can strain your dog’s liver and kidneys as they process it and lead to smelly bowel movements. In many cases, gluten is genetically modified, which many people want to avoid, and some dogs can be allergic to it.
Processed dog foods also commonly contain meat by-products not deemed fit for human consumption. This is usually the leftover parts of the animal, which are also the lowest quality parts, and includes the beaks, feet, intestines, and undeveloped eggs. Not only are these poor sources of protein, but many dogs will struggle to digest them too.
Look for food that lists the meat specifically, rather than stating that it’s a by-product. It should be before any grains on the ingredients list as dogs need more protein than grains in their diets. A diet high in such grains is considered one of the top reasons pets are becoming obese more often and are facing more allergies than before.
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Understanding food labels
As with anyone wanting to understand their own nutrition and get their health under control, reading food packaging labels and understanding what they mean is one of the biggest steps in the right direction to improving your dog’s diet. Food labels will always list the ingredients in order of quantity in the final product, from largest to smallest.
Look out for key ingredients that are cheap and in there to bulk the product up, rather than actually provide good nutrition for your dog. You could keep a list saved in your phone of ingredients to avoid or do a quick Google search of the first few to see whether it’s something you’re happy feeding your pooch or not.
Look into the company behind the food
A lot of commercial dog food producers are primarily there to make money. Switching to smaller companies that are motivated by their own love of dogs usually means their priorities will line up closely with yours. Transparency is key, so don’t be afraid to ask companies questions.
The more open they are with you about the food they sell, the way it’s packaged and processed, and their ethics as a company, the more likely it is you can trust that they’re making quality natural and organic food that your dog will thrive on.
For example, if company label ingredients as “flavorings,” ask them what that is specifically. If they can’t or won’t answer, it’s probably best to look for an alternative so that you know what you’re feeding your dog.
Overall Health Benefits of Organic and Natural Foods
Nutrition is key to good health, so cutting out cheap filler ingredients and low-quality proteins leaves space for highly nutritious foods that are given with natural and organic products. This leads to all-round better health. You’ll notice that your dog’s skin and coat appearance and texture will improve, they’ll have a boost in their energy levels, and they’ll be less likely to gain extra weight.
Food allergies in your dog are often linked to poor quality pet foods due to the filler ingredients they contain that a dog would never eat in a natural setting. As commercial foods have so many ingredients in them, many listed under umbrella terms, it can be difficult to know what’s causing the allergy.
Switching to a natural and organic diet can completely put an end to your dog’s food allergies as they contain few to none of these trigger ingredients. Overall, this all means that your dog is likely to have a longer life expectancy and improved quality of life as they’ll feel their healthiest.
Organic and natural products some of the time
Feeding your dog a natural and organic diet, 100% of the time, can be costly, especially if you want to include treats. In fact, one study found that pet foods with the words “raw,” “natural,” “gluten-free,” “organic,” and “grain-free” cost almost $10 more per pound of food. This isn’t an option for everyone, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach.
Feeding your dog organic and natural foods help reduce the number of fillers and other low-quality ingredients they consume while upping their nutrition intake from the natural and organic foods you give them. You can do this by feeding them natural and organic foods for one meal a day, mixing natural food with traditional food, so it’s half and half, or switching all of their treats to natural, organic ones.
Organic supplements specific to a health problem your dog is having can boost the area where they need it, such as with their skin or joints, and means you can keep their regular diet the same if you need to for financial reasons. It all helps, and you don’t have to put yourself in a financially difficult situation to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Fresh, organic whole foods
There are plenty of fresh whole foods that are suitable for dogs, particularly organic fruits and vegetables. They are naturally packed full of minerals and vitamins that will help your dog thrive and fiber, which will aid their digestion and keep their bowel movements regular and healthy.
The more fresh fruits and vegetables are cooked, the more the nutrients are taken out of them, so feed them in their raw state where possible, which can also be useful for their teeth. It is always great to prepare homemade dog food for your pooches. However, try not to give your pooch any cooked meat bone.
Pureeing is another option as it keeps all of the nutrients in the foods and can be ideal for dogs with dental problems. There are some vegetables and fruits that dogs shouldn’t eat, such as:
- Unripe tomatoes
Check for this before giving them anything new. Some experts recommend feeding your dog cooked eggs because they contain protein, fatty acid, and other essential vitamins. However, you should stay away from feeding raw eggs to your dog. Raw eggs can contain salmonella, and it is not suitable for your pet health.
You should also gradually introduce any new foods, including fresh whole foods, so that your dog’s stomach can adjust to it, helping to avoid problems. Consult with a vet to see if your pooch can eat raw dog food, so you can include it in the dog food diet. Raw feeding seems to be a new trend. However, no all dogs like to eat raw foods.
Marketing and “Natural” Dog Food
Marketing is all about getting people to think that even the worst products are excellent and worth buying. This has led to pet food brands being able to make claims that make them sound like something every dog owner should be prioritizing for their pet, but the guidelines they have to meet to make the claims aren’t very stringent and can be open to interpretation.
Unfortunately, this does include buzz words like “natural” and “organic.” When it comes to labeling pet food as “natural,” the Association of American Feed Control Officials largely defines this as ingredients that aren’t artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
What Does “Organic” On a Food Label Actually Mean?
According to the FDA, “organic” on pet food refers to how the plants were grown and animals raised, but there are no official governing rules that a manufacturer must meet in order to claim their product is organic. Instead, they work to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) guidelines for organic human foods.
For a canned dog food product to have the “certified organic” label, it must have at least 95% organic ingredients. Products can claim to be “made with organic” ingredients if they have at least 70% organic ingredients. The term “organic ingredients” can be used for anything less than this and do not need a minimum amount of organic ingredients, plus they can contain GMO ingredients.
The USDA is developing regulations around this by stating which synthetic additives can be used in organic products, including the vitamins and amino acids, but even once this comes into place, it’s still very likely that there will be loopholes that manufacturers will easily be able to take advantage of.
Almost everyone considers their dogs part of the family, so it’s no surprise that they want to feed them the best foods available. Unfortunately, what looks promising on the shelves is often good marketing and isn’t backed up with top quality food. Get to know food labels, look for honest and open companies, and aim to feed your pooch fresh whole foods that you prepare yourself to keep them the happiest and healthiest they can be.
Tips for Choosing the Right Food
- There are lots of foods for dogs on the market that are made out of natural ingredients. Although dogs are designed to eat raw proteins, you need to be cautious because most of these raw sources of protein may contain a different type of bacteria. So, what food can the dog eat? Try to choose a type of diet that is proven to maintain your dog’s dental health and digestive system in good shape.
- Try some natural health improvement techniques like adding 10 percent of vegetables (raw foods) in the diet for dogs. Feeding raw vegetables like carrots in small portions mixed with wet food would satisfy even the most picky eaters. This will provide enough vitamins and minerals to boost your pooch’s immune system.
- Although dogs eat raw food, it is better to feed them organic cooked foods to maintain their digestive system in excellent condition. Also, make sure your dog is getting the right amount of daily calories. If you do not control the calories, your pooch will gain lots of body weight that can lead to serious health issues.
- Some owners go for the barf diet, which consists of well-balanced micro-nutrients of different types of raw dog food. When done correctly, the barf diet can be a complete and balanced diet. There are many dog food recipes online. Look for dog food information on google regarding this particular subject. However, encourage our readers to always try to cook the source of protein.
- Avoid feeding any cooked bone to your dog and cats. Ask your vet if you can feed your pooch raw meaty bones.
Homecooked dog food will almost always be the best option for your pooch. We encourage our readers to check the raw and uncooked policy from the American Veterinary Medical Association. In this policy, they discourage feeding dogs protein sources that have not been processed correctly to remove any pathogens.
Commercial pet foods with combination with muscle meats and 10 percent of vegetables could also mix up to be a well-balanced diet for your pooch. However, this is true only if you feed your dog the right amount of calories that he or she needs. Keep in mind that they are some dog processed foods that are worthy of buying.
Make sure you are washing your hands before you are preparing any homemade dog food recipes. Also, adding cooked eggs to your dog’s diet can provide them with the essential fatty acids to complete the right dog’s nutritional plan. For more information about decent food manufacturers follow our health category.
Hi! I’m Karen and a certified dog lover. As a freelance writer and blogger, I do my best to squeeze in some time with my dogs, learning more about the way they act and how I can make sure that they continue to stay well-cared for by yours truly.
My dogs have helped me through a lot, and this is my way of giving back to them! Besides animals, I also love to travel and cook, having explored my country’s restaurants and unique places. Follow me as I show you all the amazing tips and bits of information I learn along the way about our furry friends!