The choices are endless when it comes to choosing the best natural dog food for your pet. With hundreds of different natural dog food brands and multiple types of all-natural dog food being offered by each brand, how do you know which one to choose?
Researching ingredients can be time-consuming and confusing. The same way you choose natural food sources for yourself so you can stay healthy, it’s important to choose the best all-natural dog food for man’s best friend. So what exactly is “natural” food for dogs and why should you choose it?
What is Natural Dog Food?
The term natural dog food generally refers to something that comes directly from nature without adding chemicals or extra processing methods by human or machine.
However, with pet food companies, the term natural dog food can mean something altogether different from what we might think. I
n 2001, the AAFCO or the agency that regulates the selling and distributing of all types of animal food and drugs published their first guidelines about using the term “natural” on dog food labels.
In order to be called “natural” a dog food must derive their main ingredients from plant, animal, or mined sources in an unprocessed state or through physical processing such as cooking with heat.
Chemically synthetic processes, additives, and processing aids are not allowed, except as they might occur in regular manufacturing processes to prepare the food for packaging and distribution.
Although AAFCO developed these guidelines, it is really up to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce them. But because the FDA has not defined the term “natural” as it pertains to all-natural dog food labeling, the only requirement is that the labeling not mislead the potential customer.
As a pet owner, if you see a bunch of words on the label that you can’t pronounce or you see colorings or preservatives you can be sure it doesn’t qualify as the best natural dog food for your pup.
Why Should I Buy the Best Natural Dog Food?
Over the past years, our perspective on the traditional American diet has evolved to have a better understanding of the impact that food really has on our lives and on our health.
This journey towards better health has helped us become more skilled at reading food labels in our grocery store aisles but we continue to buy mystery bags full of dry, processed kibble for our beloved pets when they deserve the best natural dog food money can buy.
Commercial pet food brands – even the ones that claim to be “organic” or “all natural” – are so overly processed that any nutritional value once present in the organic ingredients has been lost by the time the food arrives in your dog’s food bowl.
Feed grade ingredients like kibble must undergo extensive processing to kill bacteria whereas human grade ingredients are just fresh, natural ingredients that are good for your pet and also safe for human consumption.
Sure, your pet could survive just fine on that old dry bag of kibble with all it’s chemicals and preservatives. You could also survive just fine on bags of potato chips for the rest of your life but you wouldn’t feel very great because key nutritional ingredients would be missing from your diet.
There are six main benefits to feeding your dog natural dog food brands. I will explain what they are right now.
Six Benefits of Natural Dog Food
There are no more guessing games when you buy the best all-natural dog food. Fresh food means real ingredients that you can actually see in the bowl. With fresh food you can always see how much meat and fresh produce has been used to make your dog’s meal, whereas with dry kibble it’s all a mystery. Commercial dog foods are overly processed and can hide harmful ingredients and additives that can cause health issues.
The best all-natural dog food helps your pet build strong muscles and have better overall health. The high-quality ingredients found in natural dog food help build up your dog’s immune system and increase their vitality. Even senior dogs have shown an increased range of motion and act more playful after switching from their old brand of food to all-natural.
Dogs that eat the best natural dog food brands tend to have healthier digestion. Commercial pet food brands like to bulk up the protein percentages on their labels and don’t clarify the quantity of their “healthy” ingredients. This means that even though the label sounds like it should be healthy for your pet, those good-sounding ingredients are only there in trace amounts.
Your dog’s digestive system isn’t designed to process many of the ingredients found in dry food. That’s why your backyard ends up with smelly piles of dog waste. When you switch to fresh, all-natural, easy-to-digest human-grade foods, your dog will be better able to absorb nutrients.
Many dogs suffer from itchy skin, rashes, or dry coats due to the large amount of fillers in dry kibble. Fresh, nutrient-rich diets packed with essential amino acids leave your dog with better skin and a hydrated coat so you don’t miss out on soft cuddle time with fido.
Perhaps the most logical reason for switching from dry kibble to natural dog food is that you’ll get to spend more time with your best friend! Natural dog food brands have been shown to help dogs maintain a healthy body weight so they have a longer lifespan.
Processed dog foods will leave your dog feeling sluggish, overweight, and at a higher risk for other health issues. An all-natural dog food will increase your dog’s energy which leads to improved long-term health.
Finally, the best natural dog food has no additives or preservatives. Many fresh dog food ingredients are already found in your kitchen, making them an easy addition to your dog’s diet. If you’re unsure how to create a nutritionally balanced fresh dog food for your pup, the following list contains 8 of the best natural dog foods of 2021.
Best Natural Dog Food Brands
Organix Organic Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
for adult dogs is GMO-free and full of organic ingredients like chicken, brown rice, fruits, and veggies. It’s made in small batches and never contains corn, wheat, soy, artificial color or preservatives. Pet owners like the healthy ingredient list and its overall high quality.
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Original Recipe
contains nutrient-dense ingredients like protein from meat, kale, and spinach. It’s fortified with vitamins and minerals yet free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives making it an all-natural kibble that even the picky pet will enjoy.
Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice Formula
Another dry all-natural dog food made especially for big breeds. It’s made in the US with cage-free chickens, whole grain brown rice, fruits, and veggies. There are no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or filler ingredients. It also contains high amounts of glucosamine, which is super important for your dog’s joint health as he ages.
Merrick Healthy Grains Dog Food
Comes in tiny pieces making it perfect for smaller breeds of dogs. However, it’s not just the size that matters. Small dogs have different nutritional needs than large dog breeds. All ingredients are proudly listed on the front of the bag and include whole grains like brown rice and quinoa so you know exactly what you’re buying.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Premium Dry Dog Food
Both budget-friendly and all-natural for your pet. The company uses USA-raised meat and not a filler for their main source of protein. The formula also includes prebiotics which is important for your pet’s digestion. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives in this food.
Sundays Food For Dogs
A dehydrated dog food brand. Dehydrated food is great for dog parents who want all the benefits of raw food without worrying about potential bacteria that could make your dog very sick. All ingredients are 100% human-grade meaning fit for human consumption.
Fillers and byproducts are a no-no. What makes this brand special is that it’s formulated without common allergens like chicken or wheat and includes ingredients that support digestion, like pumpkin. Another plus is that it doesn’t need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
JustFoodForDogs Daily Diets Fish and Sweet Potato Frozen Dog Food
Nutritionally balanced and the company adheres to strict quality controls in the preparation of these products. The food is cooked in CA, frozen, and then shipped directly to your door. Each meal has a low number of total calories and is especially good for dogs with skin-related allergies.
Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food provides raw nutrition that will awaken primal instincts in your pet. It’s full of animal meat protein and GMO-free fruits and vegetables. The food undergoes very minimal processing and doesn’t contain artificial colors or preservatives. The ingredients are frozen and then cold-pressured, making it safe for your dog to eat.
Is natural dog food really better for your pet or is it just hype to get you to spend more money on expensive dog foods? Although we can’t say for certain that an all-natural dog food is the best food option for your pet, here’s what we do know for certain.
All-natural foods have higher antioxidants, higher amounts of phosphorus, and higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. If you feel very strongly about feeding an all-natural diet to your best friend, then you should do so!