Unleashing the Truth About All Natural Dog Food

Unleashing the Truth About All Natural Dog Food

You may have noticed the recent buzz around "all-natural" dog food. It's everywhere, from big brands to small shops, much like the health food trend for us humans. But what does "all-natural" really mean for our dogs? Is it healthier? Is it worth the extra cost?

All-natural dog food is simply dog food without artificial ingredients or additives. It's like the "organic" or "farm-to-table" food we humans enjoy. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that natural dog food ingredients must come from plants, animals, or mined sources. However, "natural" doesn't mean the food hasn't been processed at all. Processes like heating, rendering, and purification are allowed to make the food safe and nutritious for your dog.

Just like you prefer wine from pesticide-free grapes, your dog deserves food made with natural, unaltered ingredients. This guide breaks down more about what all-natural dog food consists of, what to look for, and what types you should pick up. 

What to Look for in All-Natural Dog Food

Selecting the right all natural dog food for your dog is essential for their health and happiness. Good all-natural dog food should contain a few key ingredients:

  1. Quality Protein Sources: The first ingredient on the list should be a high-quality protein source like chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. Brands like Ollie and The Honest Kitchen prioritize real, whole protein sources. Avoid foods that list "by-products" or vague terms like "animal fat" as the main ingredients.
  2. No Artificial Additives: All natural dog food should not contain artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or sweeteners. Look for natural preservatives like tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in brands like Nom Nom and Open Farm.
  3. Real Fruits and Vegetables: While dogs don't need a salad every day, fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Brands like PetPlate and Sundays for Dogs incorporate real fruits and veggies into their recipes.
  4. Wholesome Grains (Optional): Despite the grain-free trend, grains can be part of a healthy dog diet. Look for whole grains like brown rice, barley, or oatmeal, and avoid vague terms like "grain meal" or "grain by-products."
  5. AAFCO Statement: Look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement on the bag. This ensures the food meets nutritional guidelines for a complete and balanced diet.

Choosing all-natural dog food is an important part of caring for your furry friend. By knowing what to look for, you can confidently select a food that nourishes your dog and supports their overall health.

Which Dog Food Types Are Most Natural?

Feeding your dog the best all-natural food can be tricky. To better understand, let's take a look at its four main types: 

  1. Canned
  2. Dry
  3. Raw
  4. Home-made

Remember, each of these has its own perks and benefits. It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet to make sure you’re making the right choice for your unique pooch.

Canned All-Natural Dog Food

Canned food is often cooked at high temperatures to kill bacteria, which can affect its nutritional value. However, some brands prioritize high-quality, natural ingredients like Wellness CORE Grain-Free Turkey, Chicken Liver & Turkey Liver Formula, which is packed with protein and free of grains and fillers.

Dry All Natural Dog Food (Kibble)

Kibble is heavily processed, and some brands add synthetic nutrients to replace those lost during cooking. But brands like Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Organic Chicken Recipe focus on organic, natural ingredients and minimal processing.

Raw All Natural Dog Food

Raw diets, consisting of uncooked meats, bones, fruits, and vegetables, are considered the most natural. Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties are a good example, with single-source animal protein and organic produce. However, raw diets can carry a risk of bacterial contamination and require careful handling.

Homemade All Natural Dog Food

If you have the time and resources, homemade diets offer the most control over your dog's nutrition. Consult with a vet or pet nutritionist to create balanced, natural meals tailored to your dog's needs.

The Benefits of All-Natural Dog Food

Choosing all-natural dog food for your furry friend isn't just a trend; it's a decision that can significantly impact their overall health and well-being. Here are a few benefits of making the switch:

  • Improved Digestion: All-natural dog food is made with high-quality ingredients that are easier for your dog to digest. This means less stomach upset, fewer allergies, and better nutrient absorption. Your dog will feel more comfortable and have more energy.
  • Shinier Coat and Healthier Skin: Natural ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. This can reduce itching and flaking, leading to a happier and more comfortable dog.
  • Stronger Immune System: All-natural dog food often contains antioxidants and essential nutrients that support a strong immune system. This can help your dog fight off infections and illnesses, keeping them healthier in the long run.
  • Increased Energy and Vitality: A diet of natural, whole foods can provide your dog with sustained energy throughout the day. They'll be more active, playful, and overall more vibrant.
  • Better Weight Management: All-natural dog food typically contains fewer fillers and artificial ingredients, which can contribute to weight gain. By feeding your dog a natural diet, you can help them maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related health problems.
  • Improved Dental Health: Some all-natural dog foods include ingredients that promote dental health, such as enzymes and probiotics. This can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, leading to fresher breath and healthier teeth.
  • Longer Lifespan: A diet of all-natural dog food, combined with regular exercise and veterinary care, can contribute to a longer and healthier life for your dog. By providing them with the best nutrition, you're investing in their future well-being.

While the initial cost of all-natural dog food might be higher than conventional options, these long-term benefits for your dog's health and happiness are priceless. It's an investment in their quality of life that you won't regret.

How We Found The Best Natural Dog Foods

Finding the best all-natural dog food for our furry friend takes time and research. And of course, every dog is different, so a food that works for your pup might not work for mine and vice versa. 

To help you find a blend that works for you, here are a few ways to approach the task.

1. Through Veterinary Advice

Veterinary professionals with expertise in canine nutrition provided valuable insights into essential ingredients and nutrients for dogs at different life stages. Talk with your veterinarian and let them know you want to switch your dog to all-natural food. They should be able to provide you with a few appropriate recommendations for your dog’s age, weight, and health condition.

2. Through Ingredient Scrutiny

Beyond speaking with your vet, carefully examining ingredient lists following the AAFCO guidelines for "all-natural" pet food is key. This means prioritizing whole meats, vegetables, fruits, grains, and avoiding artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. 

3. Through Consumer Reviews and Ratings

The experiences of fellow dog owners offer valuable insights into the real-world performance of different brands. Castor & Pollux, for example, receives high praise for its "Organix Grain-Free Organic" line, which meets the "all-natural" criteria and is loved by many dogs.

How to Preserve All-Natural Dog Food

Just like an opened bottle of wine, all-natural dog food needs proper storage to stay fresh and nutritious. And, the way you preserve the dog food will vary depending on what type you buy. 

Here's how to keep your furry friend's food in tip-top shape.

Canned Dog Food

After opening, store canned dog food in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Make sure to use an airtight container, preferably made of glass or stainless steel. Discard any leftover food after 5 days.

Dry Dog Food (Kibble):

Store in the original bag, which has a protective barrier against air and moisture. Place the bag in an airtight pet food container for extra protection. Use the dog food within 6 weeks of opening, as exposure to air and light can degrade fats and cause spoilage.

Homemade Dog Food

Homemade food lacks preservatives, so treat it like human food. Refrigerate it and use it within 3 days, or freeze it for longer storage.

Treat Your Dog to All-Natural Dog Food

By understanding what "natural" means, reading labels carefully, and considering different food types, you can find the best dog food for your pup. Doing so can lead to shinier coats, better digestion, and improved energy. 

It’s not just about all-natural dog food, however. The treats you give your pup also matter. Wags & Wine is a subscription service that provides healthy treats made with ingredients that are beneficial to your pup. Plus, we send curated bottles of wines for the owners to enjoy alongside their fur babies!

Sign up for a subscription today, and treat not only your pup but yourself to a curated collection of goodies made with the best ingredients.