natural organic pet food

Organic Pet Food and Natural Pet Foods

March 30, 2015

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Your pet depends entirely on you to give them the best diet possible to maintain their health and well-being, and recently the trend towards “organic” and “natural” foods for humans has crept into the pet sphere, with more and more pet owners tending towards natural or organic pet food for their cats, dogs and even small pets.

Is natural or organic pet food a human fad?

So the question has to be asked – should we be pushing what are often classed as “fad” diets and foods for humans, onto our pets when there is very little knowledge and information around about their suitability for animals, especially for our beloved pets? When considering this question we should always remember that a pet doesn’t have any say if its owner is determined to thrust a particular diet or food onto it and that includes natural and organic pet food.

It is very clear that the evolution of pets, particularly cats and dogs, has been from wild animals many years ago to tamed and domesticated companion pets today. This natural evolution means that pets have also evolved to require certain levels of nutrition and proteins, which will not always be found in some of these new natural or organic pet foods. The idea of a balanced diet, or “everything in moderation”, is an important rule of thumb to remember when feeding your pet. It is also important to understand the distinction between natural or orgnaic pet foods.

In the US, an estimated 54% of pets are considered overweight (much like their owners!?) and the surge in popularity of organic and natural food for humans has resulted in a similar uptick in the production and sales of health food for pets. However care needs to be taken as pets have very different dietary and nutritional needs to humans. In a recent episode in the US, a company was forced to recall a batch of its cat food because it contained low levels of thiamine which is essential to feline health.

Are these foods good for pets?

Many people will argue that fresh or raw foods are the best when feeding your pet, but not everyone has the time to prepare these special meals, or indeed access to affordable ingredients in order to make them. So while many premium pet food brands can be quite expensive, they are often the practical and convenient choice for people who care about their health of their pets.

The first rule is to always let your pet sample a product to make sure it will eat it. If your pet has become accustomed to brands that use additives to improve palatability, it may not like some of the premium formulas, which will not always smell or taste the same.

Essential nutrients for cats and dogs

Nutrients are substances obtained from food and used by cats and dogs as a source of energy and as part of the metabolic machinery necessary for maintenance and growth. With the exception of special needs, pets should be able to get all the nutrients they need from high-quality commercial pet foods. This may not be the case however with particular “organic” and “natural” foods, so it’s always wise to carefully check the ingredients before you buy. The six essential nutrients fundamental to your pet’s healthy living are:

  1. Water
  2. Proteins
  3. Fats
  4. Carbohydrates
  5. Vitamins
  6. Minerals

Special diets

A number of companies produce special diets scientifically formulated for pets with specific diseases or conditions. Such specialised foods should only be used under the supervision of your veterinarian. Once again if your pet has a condition, an “organic” or “natural” diet may not contain the corrective ingredients so always check with your vet.

Natural or organic

Organic foods use only organically-produced ingredients, whereas natural foods have to have a majority of their content produced from naturally-produced ingredients. This can sometimes lead to the manufacturer including ingredients in the food that you may not approve of if you had known. “Natural” foods can also contain chemical boosters or additives, so you need to read the label carefully before you buy. It is important to always have a clear understanding of what you are feeding your pets!

The cost

 of organic pet food

The cost of organically-produced food has soared over the past decade, sometimes to the point where it have become unaffordable. So although you may want to feed your cat or dog organic pet food, it can be difficult to justify paying the high prices for some of these foods. It may be best to search out small or local producers that offer competitive prices to avoid paying unnecessarily high prices at the retail level, especially as well known brands have to cover large marketing and advertising costs. All organic food is a little more difficult and time-consuming to produce, so you should always expect to pay a small premium.

More reading about natural and organic pet food

Wikipedia – Pet food

Wikipedia – Dog food

Wikipedia – Cat food

Money Crashers – 10 Healthy homemade dog food recipes and organic treats

The Bark – Natural, human grade, organic pet food: really?

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