Switching To a Healthier Diet: Best Organic Dog Food
Organic dog food is not always what it seems–read on to find which are some REAL organic dog foods you can get for your pampered pooch and what are the benefits.
One of the hardest things you have to do as a dog owner is figuring out what to feed your dog. I’m not joking! At first, it might seem simple enough. You have the choice between kibble or canned food, maybe even home-cooked diet if you’re feeling enthusiastic. But, then, you get to a store. There are literally hundreds of different options for each, and it’s extremely overwhelming. Beef, chicken, turkey, buffalo, even kangaroo are just some of the protein options, then you have your grain-free, hypoallergenic, organic, natural, veterinary diet, limited ingredients and so on, and so on. How the heck is anyone supposed to choose?
And choose you must, because nutrition is one of the foundations for good health. Dogs who have a well-balanced diet have a better quality of life and less chance of struggling with nutrition-related health problems down the road. Not to mention that they’ll have more energy, look better, and feel happier when their bellies are full of nutritious food! Of course, there is no magic answer to the question what’s the best food for dogs. Not unlike humans, dogs are unique and their needs can be very different with each case, so it’s important to take your pet’s personal quirks and requirements when choosing their food. Ideally, your veterinarian would be able to assist you in your choice and point you in the direction of the right type of food or brands for your precious pupper’s needs.
These days, most pet owners are looking into natural and organic choices for their four-legged companions. Nutritional trends in the pet industry closely follow those in the market for humans, so it doesn’t surprise that organic dog food is all the rage now. We all want only the best for our pets, after all! In the case your choice is organic dog food or if you’re curious to find out more about its benefits and downsides, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out what organic dog food encompasses and is it really as pawesome as promised–as well as which are some REAL organic dog foods you can get for your pampered pooch.
Is Natural the Same as Organic?
It’s understandable why people assume that natural dog food and organic dog food are the same thing. However, that’s not true: there are important differences between the two types of dog food.
Natural dog food can be a lot of different things, as the only official requirement for the food to be labeled as natural is that its ingredients originate from natural sources. They can still be heavily processed and altered before reaching your pet’s food bowl.
On the other hand, organic dog food is more strictly regulated. Dog food that is certified organic by the USDA has to go through the same inspection as human food would. It might not seem like a big deal if the kibble is labeled organic or not, but the stricter regulations for dog food are beneficial for our pets- and mean that what you end up serving them for dinner is actually the healthier choice.
So, to sum it all up: no, natural dog food and organic dog food are not one and the same. The label natural leaves more room for manipulation and the USDA organic certificate implies adherence to rigorous rules.
What Is Organic Dog Food?
To be considered certified organic, pet food has to have the USDA seal. Like it is the case with food being labeled as organic for human consumption, this means that every ingredient that goes into the mix is analyzed before being certified. In order to be legally certified as organic, dog food has to contain at least 95% organic ingredients. And, to be classified as organic, those ingredients have to be grown and processed without the use of:
- Toxic and persistent pesticides
- Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
- Synthetic growth hormones
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the veggies, grains, or meat that goes into the kibble- everything is under the same scrutiny.
Organic dog food comes with slight differences, but it can be of influence for the price tag. 100 percent organic dog food is rare, since, as the name suggests, it has to be made exclusively from organic ingredients. Regular certified organic contains no less than 95 percent organic ingredients. Lastly, if a dog food carries the label “made with organic” it means that at least 70 percent of its ingredients are certified as such.
Organic vs Non-Organic vs Non-GMO: Which Dog Food Is Better?
Considering that organic food is more regulated than “natural” and that it tends to have ingredients that are of higher quality, does it mean that it is better than foods that are not labeled as organic? Well, not necessarily. Like we already mentioned, not all dogs have the same needs, and for some, eating organic dog food will be of no consequence. For instance, for a dog prone to allergies and sensitivities, hypoallergenic or limited ingredient dog food formula is a must, and it being organic or not isn’t the primary concern. Sure, if the formula happens to be organic, all the better, but if it’s poultry wreaking havoc on your dog’s immune system, it won’t matter if it’s grass-fed and organic, or if it’s a low quality chicken meal.
That’s not to say that the label organic does come with its own benefits. It signifies that the ingredients were chosen with care and responsibly sourced and that the preparation of the food was up to the highest standards, and that alone can make or break the deal for many pet parents.
There is another important feature of organic dog foods to mention and it’s the fact that they are also free of all genetically modified ingredients. The non-GMO label is important to many pet parents, so much so that they are seeking out organic dog food purely for the fact that it guarantees that the food will be free of GMO. Well, if that is your main concern, there are more affordable alternatives to certified organic dog food that are also completely free of GMO. The ingredients might not be chosen so rigorously as they would have to be for organic dog food, but they are guaranteed non-GMO, at the very least.
While many dog foods out there flaunt the label ‘organic’, not all of them who do actually produce it to the highest standards. To help you discern fakes from the real deal, we’ve rounded up the best organic dog food your $$$ can buy. We’ve included everything from puppy-friendly choices to grain-free and everything in between, so no dog is left out. Check out our choices and choose something yummy and healthy for your pooch!
Best Certified Organic Dog Food
Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free
The leader in the organic pet food movement, Castor & Pollux is redefining what pet food should be. Their formulas are made to reflect the needs of pets with assurances of a quality fit for human consumption. Organix dry dog food contains USDA-certified organic, free-range chicken as its first ingredient, followed by a range of certified organic ingredients, including sweet potatoes, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and many others. It’s one of the rare brands that actually have over 95 percent of the ingredients in its formula certified as organic. And, as a bonus, they add superfoods that will boost your dog’s immune system: the powerful blend of organic flaxseed, organic blueberries, organic coconut oil will nourish your pet inside and out.
Tender & True Organic Chicken & Liver Recipe
The protein source in this organic dry food for dogs is U.S. raised, USDA certified organic chicken. And not only that, but the chicken they source for their kibble is humanely raised, with accordance to Global Animal Partnership- this kibble bears the GAP Step 3 seal. Like it is the case with real organic dog food, the chicken is not the only ingredient that’s organic, and the formula is further fortified with a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Tender & True Organic Chicken & Liver Recipe is also grain-free and contains no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, or added hormones.
Catered Bowl Dog Food Organic Turkey
If you’re looking for an all life stages organic food for dogs that DOESN’T contain chicken (very important if you have an allergic or a picky dog) Catered Bowl will cater to your needs. This kibble’s protein source is cage-free, USDA organic certified organic turkey, which could make it a good choice for pets with food sensitivities. Furthermore, there are no grains in this formula, so no gluten, corn, wheat, or soy that could upset your dog’s tummy. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Catered Bowl Dog Food Organic Turkey is more affordable than some of its competitors. Ideal if you have multiple dogs in the family or simply have a tighter budget.
Gather Free Acres Organic Chicken
The single source of protein in this organic dog food formula is sustainably produced, USDA certified organic and free-run chicken. This kibble is grain-free and gluten-free and loaded with healthy, organic foods such as lentils, flaxseed, blueberries, cranberries and more. The rest of the ingredients were also responsibly sourced and of high-quality, so you’ll find MSC certified, sustainably harvested krill in the ingredients list. These tiny ocean critters in your pet’s kibble are what provides EPA and DHA essential fatty acids, both crucial for optimal heart and brain health.
Newmanâ€™s Own Adult Formula Dry Dog Food
This is one of the “made with organic” formulas, which means that about 70 percent of the ingredients are certified organic. Nevertheless, Newman’s Own is still a superb organic food for dogs with organic brown rice and chicken as its main ingredients. This is not a grain-free formula, but there is no wheat or corn in it. Instead, it includes healthy and mostly organic grains such as barley, oats, millet, and rice. Newman’s Own Adult Formula Dry Dog Food is a charitable purchase, as well, since the company donates 100 percent of its profits to various charities all over the world.
Lilyâ€™s Kitchen Proper Dry Dog Food
The variety of certified organic, wholesome ingredients in this formula makes it stand out: it is specially designed to address various potential health issues and prevent them with essential nutrients. For instance, glucosamine and chondroitin are there to ensure joint and bone health, the prebiotics support gut health and ensure good digestion, and the omega 3 essential amino acids are good for the brain and heart health, as well as the coat. The main ingredients in this organic formula are organic chicken, vegetables and botanical herbs: protein makes up for 26 percent of the whole mix! This is not a grain-free organic food, as it contains rice and oats as the source of fiber and complex carbs.
Supreme Source Premium Dry Dog Food
While not completely organic, this grain-free gourmet formula does include USDA certified ingredients in its list. Made in the USA from pork, peas, and wild boar, Supreme Source Premium Dry Dog Food is enriched with organic seaweed to boost your dog’s immune system and promote better digestion. Grain-free, this dry dog food contains no corn, no wheat, and no soy in its kibble. To boot, as the protein source in this formula is considered novelty protein, it can be a suitable solution for sensitive dogs or pets with food allergies.
Kirkland Signature Natureâ€™s Domain
Grain-free and chock full of good ingredients at a budget-friendly price, Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain dry dog food has USDA organic chicken as its primary protein source. Since there are no grains on the ingredient list, this kibble turns to legumes and veggies to source its complex carbs. This might not be the ideal choice for every pooch, especially those with sensitive tummies. Overall, while this is certainly one of the organic choices that appeal to pet owners who need a more affordable diet plan for their pet, it might be worth looking into other alternatives, such as non-GMO kibble.
Best Natural Non-GMO Alternatives
Wellness CORE SIX is an excellent example of how natural, non-GMO food can compete with organic dog food- and even win in some cases. High in protein and made with limited ingredients, this dry food is a great choice for most dogs, even those that have food allergies or tend to be picky eaters. The flavor alone will win them over! The non-GMO ingredients in this formula include cage-free duck as the primary protein source, with chickpeas for fiber, and canola oil for essential fatty acids. Additionally, this non-GMO formula comes in two other protein choices: sustainably-sourced salmon and free-range lamb. Wellness CORE SIX dry food doesn’t contain any chicken, grains, potatoes, tapioca, dairy, soy, wheat or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials
Eating clean doesn’t have to be pricey- the same goes for your dog. The first ingredient in this natural dog food is pasture-fed lamb, followed by rice for that necessary source of fiber and carbs. Rich in nutrients and full of flavor, this food might not be organic but it is always made from non-GMO ingredients, regardless of its protein choice. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural is also available in farm-raised chicken, brown rice & sweet potato recipe version. And, since this is a line with formulas tailored for each life stage, you can choose between senior, puppy, or adult formula. This natural food is made without artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy protein.
Halo Natural Dry Dog Food
Holistic, natural food is often the favorite alternative for the pricey organic formulas in cases where the certificates are not a deal-breaker. And how couldn’t it–when some of the foods in this category are fit to compete with the best from the organic food group? Halo Natural Dry Dog Food is one of those top-selling alternatives. HALO only uses the whole animal (in this case, chicken and chicken liver) to craft its kibble, and never meal or by-products (which is not something all organic foods can say for their ingredient list). As a result, this non-GMO food is more appetizing and easier to digest. In addition to this recipe, HALO offers a whole range of novel and less novel formulas, from vegan dog food to surf and turf.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.
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.
More by Angela Vuckovic