What is the Best Natural Dog Food?
As a responsible pet parent, you want to do what’s best for your best pal — and that includes feeding a healthy diet you can be proud of.
If you’re already making an effort to eat more natural and less processed foods yourself, you likely want the same for Fido. But you may wonder — is natural dog food really healthier for your pup? Does the word “natural” on the bag really mean anything, anyway?
What does it mean if a dog food is “natural”?
The guidelines for pet food, including ingredients and labeling, are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
According to AAFCO, “natural” is defined as:.
“A feed or feed 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 in good manufacturing practices.”
Essentially, the ingredients in natural dog food must be derived from natural sources and not chemically altered, although they can be physically altered. Natural dog food also cannot contain chemically synthetic additives such as artificial preservatives, fillers or dyes.
The one exception to this rule is that synthetic vitamins and minerals may be added to balance out the nutrients in the food — although, quite often those trace nutrients are naturally derived, as well.
What “natural dog food” does NOT mean
The term “natural” does tell you something about the dog food you are considering, but it doesn’t tell you everything, and it’s possible to make some assumptions based on the term that aren’t always accurate.
For one thing, natural dog food is not guaranteed to be quality dog food. Even if a dog food does not contain artificial ingredients, if the ingredients it does have are sourced from low-quality meat or veggies, then the finished product won’t be any better.
Also, although natural dog food cannot be chemically processed, that doesn’t mean it can’t go through other kinds of intensive processes. Some natural dog foods still go through several stages of processing, resulting in a food that bears little resemblance to the original ingredients!
Finally, the term “natural” does not guarantee the food is complete and balanced; that’s a different AAFCO guideline. For example, some toppers, mixers and treats may be “natural” but not intended to be fed as an exclusive diet.
How do you know you’re feeding the best natural dog food?
There are a few key things to know about the dog food you’re considering in order to make sure you’re choosing the best natural dog food for your furry friend.
As always, the first step when choosing a dog food is to check the label. If the food has a long ingredient panel, it likely contains dyes and fillers that are naturally derived but still unnecessary for your dog’s health. You’ll also want to watch out for foods that contain grains — a “natural” ingredient that does not belong in your dog’s food.
If you’re satisfied that the ingredients as listed are healthy choices for your best pal, the next step is to double check the quality of those ingredients and how they were processed. Clearly, high quality ingredients that undergo the minimal amount of processing will be the most natural and therefore nutritious!
If the proteins and veggies in your dog’s food are baked or cooked, that process will destroy many of those natural enzymes and nutrients. Freeze-drying, on the other hand, locks in natural nutrition and freshness.
Finally, make sure that the main staple of your dog’s diet is a complete and balanced dog food according to AAFCO standards. This ensures all key vitamins and minerals and nutrients are covered, so that Fido gets everything they need to be their happiest furry self!
Overall, the best natural dog food will be complete and balanced, limited ingredient, high quality, and minimally processed — such as Nature’s Advantage beef, turkey and chicken grain free natural dog food.
When it comes to your pup’s food, you want only the best for your best pal.
The term “natural” on a natural dog food tells you that it shouldn’t contain chemically processed ingredients or artificial additives, like harsh preservatives or dyes. That’s definitely a good thing to know! But, the term “natural” doesn’t tell you everything that you’re going to want to be aware of before you decide to pour that food in Fido’s bowl.
That’s why it’s crucial to double check the ingredient panel and processing of the food you’re considering, so you can make sure that you’re feeding your pup right — and choosing the best natural dog food for the very best dog!