I’ve always found it quite disturbing when people referred to something unhealthy or bad-tasting as being “dog food” since it implied that dog food is the pinnacle of unpalatable by-products and disgusting ingredients. I liked to think that my pooch was getting better than that and so I turned to organic dog food.
Apparently my concerns weren’t unfounded: some of the contents of low-grade dog food brands may be less appealing than you’d think. While not all dog food is bad and there are some good quality organic dog food brands out there, the list of ingredients should be the first thing any dog owner reads before deciding on a brand. Knowing what goes into the food that our pets eat will not only help us find products that fit their dietary needs, but also help improve their overall health and well-being.
What to Look for on the Labels?
More and more pet owners decide to spend a bit more on their pet’s food in order to make sure that their diet is as well balanced as possible.
Organic dog food has become a popular option since many “green” brands focus on providing good quality ingredients as opposed to using by-products, fillers, and artificial substances. However, you still have to be careful when reading the labels if you want to know with certainty that your pet is getting top quality food worth spending a bit more.
While some companies focus on organic pet food production, other organic dog food lines from larger brands could be less careful about what they put in their formulas. So, pay extra attention to the main ingredients listed on each product.
There are some guidelines to follow when choosing the right organic dog food for your pet in order to make sure that it gets a nutritionally balanced diet free of chemicals and additives. Do your research and find the best organic dog food to suit your pet’s needs.
Just make sure that you pick brands that meet the AAFCO nutrient profiles and have been labeled organic after proving that their products comply with these profiles.
Meat Meal and By-products
Meat by-products contained in low-grade dog food often encompass all of the animal parts that are not fit for human consumption and that are left after meat has been processed. Basically, you feed your dog the remains that are unsafe for you because in the end pets are animals and they can stomach ingredients that would make humans sick. That doesn’t mean that these by-products are in any way great for pets’ health.
If you’re looking for dog food that is easier to digest and better balanced in terms of nutritional content try to avoid any brands that list meat meal or meat by-product as one of the main ingredients in their formulas. Look for organic dog foods that list whole ingredients such as beef, fish, or poultry as the main ingredient so you know exactly where the meat your dog eats is coming from.
Grains: the good and the bad
The general consensus is that high quantities of grains should be avoided in dogs’ diets and many regular dog food brands contain several types of grains in large quantities. Not only are some of these grains highly glycemic, but they can also be hard to digest and have negative health implications for your pet.
It makes sense considering your dog’s natural diet wouldn’t include a lot of wheat, corn, or soy. Try to avoid brands that list grains as 3 of their 5 top ingredients since these will include high quantities of these cereals and may be hard to process.
Try to look for the best organic dog food brands for your pet and read the labels in order to determine what the best option you can find is. If high grain content is something you are particularly worried about you can get some information on dry foods such as Natural Planet Organics Dog Food’s grain free turkey formula to find out if grain free is the way to go for your pet.
However, some grains are still OK to include in your dog’s diet, just make sure that they’re the right ones. Whole grain cereals such as oats, brown rice, and barley have a lower glycemic index and are more easily digested by your dog than other grains. It is best, thus, to look for organic dry dog food that lists these grains as key ingredients alongside meat. You can also read up on some organic dog food reviews to see what reliable brands other pet owners have found and liked in terms of the meat and grains contained in each product.
Vegetables and fruits
A good sign that an organic dog food brand is making a decent effort in trying to supply your dog with a healthy intake of nutrients is that it uses fruits and vegetables as part of the food formula.
Whether you’re looking into organic wet dog food or into organic dry dog food options make sure to search for brands that include vegetables such as carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and spinach and fruits like blueberries and apples. The presence of fruits and vegetables as part of the main ingredients used in organic dog food means that better nutritional value is provided. Go for brands that contain larger quantities of fruits and veg.
Nutritional Value and AAFCO Nutrient Profiles
In order to be labeled as organic, dog food formulas must comply with the AAFCO nutrient profiles but many companies offer natural or premium formulas alongside their organic products as well so make sure that what you are buying is properly certified and labeled.
Popular brands such as Karma Organic Dog Food have some AAFCO certified dry food products but not all of the products sold fit the AAFCO nutrient profiles. It is best to do your research first. Natural Planet Organics has two certified formulas in terms of dry food which are also relatively high in vegetable and fruit content but may offer other dry foods that have not met all of the requirements in order to be labeled as organic.
When looking for organic canned dog food that meets the AAFCO nutrient profiles Evanger’s offers two canned options, one of which has been AAFCO certified while the other has not. Natural Planet Organics has two canned products that both meet the AAFCO standards and one version of certified treats. So, check to see which items are truly organic and which are only labeled as natural before deciding on a new brand of organic dog food.
If you have the time, look into what the AAFCO nutritional guidelines are and make some dog treats yourself whenever you can. Look for organic dog food recipes and find a few easy-to-make snacks that are nutritionally balanced and that your dog will certainly enjoy and incorporate great organic ingredients into them.