Best Natural Dog Food
Natural dog food comes in many shapes and forms, from dehydrated to freeze-dried and raw, but the main trait that all these dog foods share is that they are made from natural ingredients. Read on to learn which natural dog food is actually healthy and which ones to avoid!
We all want what’s best for our pets – that’s a universal truth for every responsible pet parent. And making sure that our dogs eat well-balanced, healthy food should be one of the primary concerns, as a poor diet can be to blame for a range of health issues starting from obesity to diabetes, cardiac issues, aching joints, and so much more. It doesn’t surprise, then, that many dog owners opt for natural dog food hoping it will be the best choice they can make for their furbaby. However, the label ‘natural’ is often slapped on products that are not very deserving of that epithet and aren’t actually good for your dog.
To help you find high-quality, nutritionally complete natural dry dog food that will suit your pet’s unique needs, we’ve rounded up the best natural dog foods in all shapes and forms. Read on to find out what are the pros of natural dog food and which you should choose for your four-legged bestie!
1. Editor’s Choice: ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food
High in protein and nutrient-dense, this natural dog food has a limited ingredient formula that offers only the best quality ingredients that are suited for both picky dogs and those with food sensitivities. Made from free-range, grass-fed, grass-finished meats, and wild-caught seafood, this natural dog food uses the method of air-drying to preserve all the crucial nutrients without compromising on flavor or shelf life of the food. There are various options available, including beef, chicken, lamb, venison, tripe and lamb, or mackerel and lamb to suit any dog’s taste and needs- and in each case, it’s authentic whole prey ratios of the nutrients, as the food includes meat, organs, and bones, same as it would in the wild. The formula includes no grain, potato, peas, sugar, or glycerin- only natural, healthy ingredients your dog needs to thrive.
- High-quality, antibiotic, and toxin-free meat
- 10% superfoods for holistic benefits
- Can be used as a topper or a complete meal
- The texture is not always consistent
2. Runner Up: SOJOS Complete Lamb Recipe Adult Grain-Free
Made with raw wholesome ingredients that have been freeze-dried to preserve all the goods until you serve it into your pet’s bowl, this natural dog food is healthy, yummy, and easy to prepare, so it’s great for those busy pet owners that still want to ensure their pet’s diet is up to standards. This complete grain-free recipe includes USDA-approved freeze-dried meat or poultry and human-grade air-dried veggies and fruits, so all you have to do is pour water over it for the food to expand back to a flavorful, appetizingly textured meal- a pound of SOJOS food becomes 5 pounds of meals when combined with the liquid. There are 5 single-protein options to pick from: pork, chicken, beef, lamb, or turkey so you will easily find a taste to match your picky eater’s preference.
- A pound of dried food makes 5 pounds of raw
- Made in the USA from USDA-approved meats
- Suited for all breeds and life stages
- Can be too chunky for puppies or small breed dogs
3. Customer’s Choice: JustFoodForDogs PantryFresh Dog Food
Nothing warms the soul and nurtures the body like a homemade cooked meal- and the same rings true for our four-legged companions. However, not many people have the time to prepare home-cooked meals for dogs every day, let alone know what exact nutrients they require! This is where these gently cooked, ready-to-serve meals come in. Prepared from human-grade ingredients to create a vet-developed formula, this natural dog food comes in two tasty options: beef and russet potatoes and turkey with whole wheat macaroni. The meals are ready to be eaten straight from the pouch- thanks to a slow cooking method of process, all the vitamins and nutrients are preserved and the shelf life is up to 2 years even without any artificial preservatives in the mix.
- Exceeds recommended AAFCO’s standards
- Ready to serve meals
- Human-grade ingredients
- Gluten and grain-free
4. Best for Puppies: Health Extension Little Bites
The best time to start with a healthy, well-balanced diet is right at the beginning. Feeding your puppy natural dog food will keep them happy and boost their immunity, setting up a good foundation in their adult life, both habit-wise and health-wise. This natural dry food is ideal for puppies and toy breed dogs not just because the pieces are tiny, but because it packs a powerful nutritional punch. Made from whole food ingredients from traceable and sustainable sources, it contains free-range chicken, brown rice, and a proprietary blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that includes superfoods such as turmeric, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. Everything -and more- that your puppy needs to thrive under your wing!
- Made from USDA-inspected fresh meat and responsibly sourced veggies and fruits
- Manufactured in the USA in small batches
- Puppy-sized bites
- Rich in antioxidants
- Not really for picky eaters
5. Best Toppers: Emmy’s Best Pet Products Free Range Dog Food Topper
It’s all for naught if your pooch turns up their nose at a healthy meal! If your pet is picky or simply dislikes food you know is good for them, adding a tempting, mouth-watering topper to their food bowl might just do the trick. A healthy alternative to junk food, artificial ingredient laden food toppers, this freeze-dried and raw meal topper will add a burst of flavor- and important nutrients, too. Made from dried elk and venison meat, bones, and organs that have been freeze-dried and ground, this topper is chock full of protein and can be served dry or moistened, with kibble, wet food, or even home-cooked meals. The meat is wild-sourced, produced, and processed in the USA- only the highest quality ingredients for your picky pupper.
- Can be used with any type of food
- Sourced, produced, and processed in the USA
- Flavorful and healthy
- Source of protein
- Not for dogs with a sensitive stomach
6. Best Dry: Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Dog Food Organic Chicken Recipe
Some owners simply prefer kibble- and many dogs, too. It’s convenient to serve and keep fresh, and many dogs grew accustomed to the crunch and the flavor of dry food and have trouble switching to different textures and tastes. Luckily, there are many kinds of natural dry dog foods that are nourishing and tasty, and this crunchy chicken recipe is one of the best ones out there. Wholly made from organic, USDA-certified ingredients, this formula includes organic free-range chicken, organic sweet potatoes, and a blend of superfoods, including organic flaxseed, organic blueberries, and organic coconut oil, all there to nourish your pet’s body and health inside out.
- Over 95% of ingredients certified as organic by the USDA
- Familiar texture and flavor for dogs that prefer kibble
- Nutritionally complete
- Not for dogs on weight management diets
7. Best Wet: Portland Pet Food Company Human-Grade Dog Food Meal Mixer
Whether you have a senior that has lost most of his teeth or a pooch that simply prefers wet food to dry, you’ll love these all-natural, fully cooked homestyle dog meal pouches. Made from certified human-grade ingredients and USDA-certified meats, this wet food comes in 4 options to satisfy the pickiest of pallets: chicken and yams, beef and rice, turkey and yams, and pork and potato. Not only are these wet dog meals healthy, but they are also quite tasty, making them great supplemental meals, dry food toppers, or a rotational meal. Plus, as they are fully cooked, ready to serve, and packed in practical pouches, these meals make a fantastic go-to option for camping, traveling, and hiking!
- 4 meal combos to choose from
- Human-grade and USDA-certified ingredients
- Fully cooked and ready to serve
- Can be used as toppers or supplemental meals
- Not for picky eaters
8. Best Raw: Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance Dog Food
Keeping track of your pet’s nutrition is no easy feat, particularly if you are feeding raw or home-cooked meals- a lot goes into perfecting the formula to make sure it meets all your pet’s nutritional needs. To make your job easier, this dehydrated dog food base mix does most of the work for you: all you have to do is add meat of choice, be it raw or cooked. This holistic blend of 24 nutrient-packed whole foods includes 9 veggies, 2 fruits, seeds, bone meal and crushed eggshells for calcium, raw goat’s milk, green-lipped mussels, shiitake mushrooms, and many more healthy and natural ingredients. All you have to do is add hot water, the meat of choice, and a bit of fat (e.g. coconut oil or olive oil) and you have a nutritious, well-balanced meal to serve to your pooch without slaving away in the kitchen.
- Made in the USA and non-GMO Certified
- Powerful holistic blend of superfoods
- Easy to prepare for a complete nutritious meal
- A 6-pound bag makes 56 one-pound finished meals
Is Natural Dog Food Really Better?
In all honesty, we all instinctively assume that if something is natural, that must also mean that it is also somehow better or healthier. And the marketers know this and exploit it to the fullest. However, in reality, just because something is natural or made from natural ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily meet all of the other standards that a certain product should- like dog food. The term natural dog food basically just means that there are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in the ingredient list, so it’s easy to see how the quality of natural dog foods can dramatically vary. There are cheap, filler-laden kibble options that could be labeled as natural simply because they have no artificial ingredients but it still wouldn’t be a good option for your pet.
While natural ingredients in dog food are certainly a plus, it is important to make sure that the balance of nutrients and nutritional value are also meeting the health requirements for your pet’s needs. This means plenty of protein, fibers, as well as antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins from wholesome fruits, veggies, or superfoods. And sometimes, that balance is off in natural foods, so don’t just grab the first bag labeled as natural- take the time to read the nutritional information and all the ingredients before deciding. A good way to check if a natural dog food meets the criteria of healthy and well-balanced food for dogs is to see if it is described as complete and balanced, as this means that it meets AAFCO’s nutrient profile requirements.
In addition to dry natural dog food, a.k.a. kibble without artificial ingredients, there are various options that go a step beyond and use human-grade ingredients, organic ingredients, and methods of preparation that preserve nutrients in their original forms, such as freeze-drying or air drying. If you are really looking to make a switch to less processed and more natural food for your pet, these kibble alternatives are a good place to start. They are much less time-consuming and demanding to feed than balancing raw food or preparing homemade meals for your dog, but they offer that wholesome goodness you want in your pooch’s bowl.
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A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.
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