How to Choose the Best Organic Food for Dogs
When it come to the best organic dog foods, it is important to know that not all diets are created equally. The word “organic” itself has become somewhat of a buzzword as companies realize pet owners’ interests in feeding their dogs food that they believe to be the best for them.
Organic and natural dog foods typically are the best for dogs to consume since great care is taken to source ingredients that have been raised in the ideal conditions and that are free from pesticides and other harmful agents. However, there is a difference between what is defined as an organic food and a natural food, and it is important for families to understand this to make the best selection for their dog.
Under the regulations established by the Association of American Feed Control Offices (AAFCO), natural is defined as “a feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources…not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic.”
What this typically means in terms of dog foods which are often filled with items that would seemingly defy this description is that a natural food must be free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial colors to be designated as “natural.” It is also important to note that currently there are no specific rules that companies must adhere to to market their diets as natural dog foods.
Organic foods are bound by a far more stringent set of guidelines. For a dog food to receive the designation of certified organic, all plants included in the food must have been cultivated without the use of any pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation, or sewer sludge.
Any proteins included in organic diets are also required to be taken from animals which were fed organic materials, provided with the opportunity to roam outdoors, and to have never been subjected to treatment by antibiotics or hormones.
Receiving certification as an organic dog food is a lengthy process with many hoops to be jumped through to accomplish. Regulations surrounding the privilege of labeling a dog food as organic are very strict. As a result, sourcing ingredients of this quality as well as achieving certification is an extremely lengthy and expensive task, meaning the dog food itself is more costly for the consumer as a whole.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Organic Dog Foods
Organic dog foods are made from the best available ingredients thus meaning their quality is exceptional. Ingredients are most often included in their whole form, and as a result, the food is nutritionally dense. This means that though a food may come with a higher price tag less of it will need to be fed on a daily basis to achieve the same results as a lesser quality food. So though the initial financial output may be high, savings are realized through fewer health issues and a food that lasts longer.
The amount of the best organic food for dogs each dog will need will depend on a number of factors. Among the biggest considerations are age, weight, activity level, breed, and the type of food itself. As a general guideline, it is a good idea to follow the suggested serving sizes printed on the bag of food. These can be adjusted until the correct portion size is determined.
As with all foods, a dog’s weight and appetite can help families to assess whether meal sizes should be increased or decreased.
Dietary Requirements for Organic Dog Foods
Even within organic dog foods, some differences do exist. It is important for owners to take the time to understand what is in any food they are considering purchasing for their dog.
One of the key distinctions in organic dog foods today is labeling. Some organic foods will be marketed as containing organic ingredients while others declare themselves to be all-organic. When a food is labeled “USDA Organic,” this means that the food was certified to contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients as defined by the USDA. Foods that are simply made with some organic ingredients have a lower requirement imposed on them with only 70 percent of their ingredients required to be certified as organic.
It is also important to select a food that specifically labels its proteins. If an organic food simply lists things such as “meats” or “animal fats,” these diets are best avoided.
Within the United States, the FDA is responsible for ensuring a food is suitable for animal consumption. This authority is also regulated by the Department of Agriculture in each individual state. It is important to note that though inspections of food manufacturing plants do occur regularly, notices to comply are not always adhered to, and regulations are not always enforced. This means that not all dog foods that proclaim themselves to be organic truly are.
Always look for the title “certified organic” on any food that proclaims to be an organic diet. Many companies try to avoid this by stating they include certain ingredients that have received the designation of being a USDA organic product. These may contain one item that has been certified as USDA organic while the food as whole is not certified.
As with all dog foods, it is important that the first ingredient in any organic dog food be a meat with whole meats preferable. Carbohydrates may be from whole grains or fruits and vegetables with their main goal being providing excellent amounts of dietary fiber and antioxidants. Lastly, healthy fats provide dogs with the energy they need and are also a vital help in maintaining good skin and coat quality and promoting healthy joints.
Any food suited for the need of an adult dog should contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat. Use this criteria as a basic rule of thumb when considering which diet is the best organic dog food.
Things to Look for in the Best Organic Food for Dogs
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in an organic dog food:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Has been certified organic and bears this designation on its label