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What Does Organic Really Mean for Your Dog?


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Why should you feed organic dog food? In the world of marketing and advertising, the word “organic” and “natural” get thrown around quite a bit.

In produce such as vegetables and fruit, organic means that the crop is not subject to “prohibited substances” (usda.gov), such as certain chemicals that ward off plant diseases and insects. Synthesized fertilizers and pesticides are among these prohibited substances. With meat products, the meat animal must be grass-fed, versus fed out in a feedlot-type situation, and should not receive any antibiotics or growth hormones.

According to the USDA, when it comes to multi-ingredient foods (such as dog food), “Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic”. Packaged foods must contain at least 70% organic ingredients in order to receive the organic stamp of approval. This article outlines the information you need to know in deciding if feeding organic food is right for you and your dog.

A little food history

After World War II, many foods (including human and pet foods) began being packaged. The belief was that these packaged food items were healthy because they could include vitamins and minerals, but what nutritionists did not take into account was the fact that these foods needed a high amount of preservatives in order to have a marketable shelf-life. Unfortunately, these preservatives and other added, but unnecessary, ingredients can be a main cause of unhealthy and obese dogs. 

Think about this situation in terms of yourself. Would you feel healthier if you ate a T.V. dinner or a meal prepared fresh from the garden? On the other hand, which one is easier to prepare and more readily available? Although this is an extreme example, it should get you thinking about what is important to you in terms of your pet’s care.

pile of vegetables under a sign saying 'organic'

Pros of an organic diet

Organic dog food should be made up of whole foods, which have not been processed to the extent of commercial dog foods, therefore, saving a high count of vitamins and minerals. The lack of pesticides and antibiotics will help your dog’s immune system and overall health because these chemicals have a high chance of blocking your dog’s ability to release toxins. This can leave your pooch feeling lethargic and can eventually lead to other health-related issues.

A large part of the organic vs. commercial argument is about meat. Many commercial foods use meat by-products or meat meal as the main protein source, while organic foods should use a grade of meat suitable for human consumption. Meat by-products are known as the parts of the animal that are not normally consumed by humans, such as bones and most organs.

Cons of an organic diet

Organic foods can be expensive and have a short shelf-life. Companies can sometimes “get around” certain organic labeling rules and promote their product as organic, with an organic price tag, so be careful when choosing your pet food. Just because it says “organic” does not necessarily mean it is. It is a good idea to be able to read your dog food labels. Consult your veterinarian to discuss what is best for your dog.

If you choose to make your own dog food from scratch with organic ingredients, it can be time-consuming and sometimes difficult to get your hands on specific ingredients.

Making the choice

“Going organic” with your dog’s nutrition is something that takes time and commitment, no matter how you go about it. It takes some dedication, but more and more pet owners are choosing to feed organic dog food versus commercial food because it seems to be a healthier approach to dog nutrition. There are pluses and minuses to each scenario. Find what is right for you by paying attention to your dog’s needs and consulting your veterinarian.

Need a helping paw choosing the right organic dog food? Check out our guide to the best organic dog foods on the market!

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.