You want what's best for your four-legged companion. Trust us, we get it. Fido is a member of your family. Your fur child. It makes sense that you would do anything and everything to ensure their well being, health, and happiness... but are you? It may not come as a surprise that dogs and humans share quite a few similarities. We can both suffer from allergies, experience anxiety and stress, and struggle with aching joints and sore muscles. However, what many dog owners may not fully realize is that we are also similar to Fido in the sense that our overall wellness begins with what we are putting into our bodies.
That's right. Just like people, your dog's health and wellbeing are directly correlated to their diet. Therefore, providing with Fido with the best, wholesome food as possible can truly make a world of difference. From curing digestive issues to easing inflammation to preventing cancer, it all begins with nutrition. But what is the best of the best? Is a "label" really necessary? Does it ensure proper standards?
In this article, we will cover all the bases of organic dog food and why your pup can greatly benefit from a top-notch diet.
Organic Dog Food: Why It's Important
It's important to recognize and understand exactly why organic food is better for both you and your dog. Instead of giving an overview of what organic is, let's chat about what organic is NOT.
If you purchase organic, then the product is NOT:
- Genetically modified
- Grown with artificial pesticides or fertilizers
- Harvest with synthetic growth promoters
Additionally, animal products are raised without antibiotics, growth promoters, or drugs.
Plain and simple: if the food is not organic and all natural, it may very likely contain GMOs and additives.
What are GMOs
So what exactly are GMOs? Again, knowledge is power. It's important to know what you're avoiding in order to do so effectively.
According to the World Health Organization, GMOs are "…organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally. For example, introducing a gene from a different organism to alter the state of the present organism.
It's no secret that the idea of GMOs has terrified plenty of consumers. There has been a fair amount of controversy and conspiracy theories regarding the safety of these genetically modified organisms. Some scientists claim that we have nothing to worry about when it comes to GMOs. However, other individuals believe that the companies creating the GMOs are the ones backing the studies about the genetically modified organisms being safe due to the fact that they stand to profit from the claims. (We know, DRAMA!)
Additionally, although the US and Canadian governments have approved GMOs, 38 countries (and counting) around the world have banned genetically modified crops and products.
With all of that said, many dog owners are wondering what it all means for our pets.
Where are GMOs
Here's where things get worrisome. GMOs are everywhere.
Genetically modified crops include:
The troubling part of it is that these ingredients are commonly found in commercial pet foods (not to mention human food... in fact, experts say 70% of processed foods for humans contain GMO ingredients).
Let's take soy as a quick example. Soy is a massive US crop used in both human and pet food. A staggering 94% of soy is genetically modified. Of course, news got out about this fact and labels began switching up how they were naming soy. For example, soy is now commonly listed as any of the following:
- Hydrolyzed protein
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Vitamin E
Additionally, many goods with vegetable, plant or bean in the name (in addition to tofu, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein) are all soy-based products.
As you can see, unless you're purchasing organic, GMOs can be impossibly hard to avoid.
GMOs = Serious Issues
Furthermore, studies are now showing that GMOs have a direct correlation to the following issues:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Immune system damage
- Digestive disorders
- Skin and food allergies
- Cognitive issues
- Harm to other internal organs such as the pancreas and reproductive organs
- Variations in gut bacteria leading to leaky gut and immune system issues
- Endocrine disruption
- Autism (behavior issues in dogs)
How To Avoid the Dangers of GMOs
The bottom line: the most efficient way to avoid the dangers of GMO products is to purchase whole, certified organic foods. Certified organic foods are not permitted to use genetically modified ingredients. Additionally, the products are grown without artificial pesticides or fertilizers and the animals raised for food are done so without antibiotics, growth promoters, or other drugs.
Benefits of Organic Dog Food
Thanks for sticking with us through that chunk of information. Again, we truly believe that it's important to understand exactly why you may want to make some changes ASAP.
Pinnacle health begins from the inside. Many ailments can quite easily be cured with dietary changes, yet instead, conventional medications are commonly prescribed to mask the underlying issue. Conventional drugs are known for the ability to temporarily hide one issue while causing a slew of other issues to develop. We highly recommend using nutrition to better your pup first. You may be surprised just how many conditions resolve themselves.
With that being said, an organic diet has been known to help a number of conditions without the need for potentially harmful drugs.
When your dog's diet consists of organic ingredients, you'll likely first see results in terms of digestive health. An organic diet is much easier for the dog's body to digest due to the fact that the grains and proteins lack chemicals and artificial substances. Additionally, you'll probably notice a difference in your dog's stool. Pet owners report that their dog's bowel movements are more regular and any preexisting diarrhea or constipation subsided with an organic diet.
Furthermore, many pet owners report that their dog eats less organic, high-quality dog food in comparison to their previous commercial food diet. This is due to the fact that an organic diet is loaded with the necessary nutrients that the dog needs, not bulk-filler. Therefore, the dog eats only what their body needs to be full of energy.
Skin Conditions and Allergies
Just like their owners, dogs also suffer from allergies and associated skin issues. Luckily, another great benefit of organic ingredients is the overall reduction in skin conditions and allergies. How is this possible? Chemical additives, toxic pesticides, and artificial components are major factors when it comes to dog allergies. Therefore, removing these elements significantly reduces the chance of an allergic reaction.
Furthermore, many pet parents struggle over what ingredient Fido is allergic to. Experts suggest an elimination diet where owners begin with a very bland diet and then slowly reintroduce specific ingredients. However, what if Fido isn't actually allergic to chicken but rather to the chemical antibiotics the chicken received? Switching to an organic diet is an effective way to determine exactly what is causing the allergic reaction.
Organic dog food doesn't contain bulk-fillers. Therefore, your dog won't have to overeat in order to feel full and content. Obesity is a real issue when it comes to dog health and we believe that prevention truly is the best medicine. An organic diet will ensure that Fido receives all of the nutrients necessary without any of the extra "junk" that fills so many bags of commercial dog food.
Additionally, organic food provides your pet with all the fuel they need for being the best, playful versions of themselves due to the fact that organic ingredients contain larger amounts of nutrient-dense calories.
Overall Health & Immunity
Your dog doesn't need to be suffering from weight issues or skin ailments to benefit from an organic diet. In fact, natural dog food proves to be an incredibly effective disease preventative as well as a key component in ensuring a long, happy life.
No Animal By-Products
Finally, organic dog food doesn't contain animal by-products. Animal by-products, such as diseased tissues, gluten, and fillers, are found in more commercial pet food than you might think. Choosing organic ensures that your dog's food contains only the highest quality of meat and produce.
More to Consider
We mentioned GMOs and why you want to avoid them when it comes to food both you and your pup consume. However, unfortunately, GMOs aren't the only danger when it comes to pet food.
Grain-Free Dog Food
Now, before any of our readers get up in arms over the grain controversy, we want to state that no, we do not believe that grain is inherently bad. We, however, feel that there is a need for concern when it comes to the way grains are grown and processed. These methods can cause some serious damage that pet parents should not overlook. Our concern primarily lies in Mycotoxin.
Mycotoxin is a highly toxic byproduct of mold or fungus. Pet scientist Trevor Smith coined the byproduct to be “the largest concern in pet foods today." Furthermore, one of the most well-known mycotoxins (known as Aflatoxin B1) is actually the most carcinogenic naturally occurring matter known to science.
Here's where the troubling part comes in. Mycotoxins are commonly found in cereal grains such as corn, wheat, and barley. So much so, in fact, that a global survey administered from 2004 to 2013 discovered that mycotoxins were present in 76% of grains and byproducts intended for animal consumption. 76%! That's a staggering number.
Another scary fact is that FDA allows up to 20 micrograms of mycotoxins per kilogram of pet food. That's right. We know the horrible effects mycotoxins can have on the liver, heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys, and yet, it's still approved by the FDA.
Again, we don't mean to scare our readers into crazy lifestyle changes. However, this information is readily available. It is so important to know what we are putting into our own bodies as well as our dog's bodes. When you know better, you do better.
Dog Food Brands We Love
We always encourage our readers to do their research when it comes to products and brands. Knowledge truly is power. With that being said, there are a handful of brands that we love.
Organix Small Breed Recipe Dry Dog Food is one that will have your pup looking forward to mealtime. The meat is sourced in the USA and freeze dried raw. Additionally, each bag is chock full of a superfood blend of organic flaxseed, organic blueberries, and organic coconut oil. Finally, Organix prides itself on having no artificial colors or preservatives, no chemical pesticides, no fillers, no grains, no coloring, and no added growth hormones or antibiotics. We give the company two thumbs up!
Additionally, Organix makes a great wet, canned food option for adult dogs. The canned food is also free of GMOs and is grain-free. Check out the Organix Organic Canned Adult Dog Food if you're looking for a nutritional wet food option!
Earthborn Dog Food
Earthborn a great, all natural company that has grain-free dog food as well as options for treats and cat food. Additionally, Earthborn is a holistic company that has dry food, canned food, and grain-free options for both dogs and cats.
Wellness Core Dog Food
With 7 available flavors and all natural ingredients including antioxidants and probiotics, Well Core Dog Food is definitely one worth checking out. The dry dog food is also grain free which means Fido is safe from the worrisome mycotoxins we just talked about.
Organic: Stamp of Approval
Now, there are a few things that we need to clarify about a product receiving the organic seal of approval. If you see the "USDA Organic" label or "Certified Organic" seal on your food, it means that item must have an ingredients list and the contents must be 95% or more certified organic. Furthermore, according to the USDA, the product must be free of synthetic additives such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and cannot be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering. Finally, the remaining 5% of the product may only be foods or processed with additives from a USDA approved list.
Here's where things can get a bit tricky. Pet parents who are strictly looking for the USDA organic seal may ultimately miss out on health benefits that Fido truly needs. Let us explain.
Organic Dog Food: The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, we know that you want the word for your dog. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dog lovers and pet owners. Therefore, we understand how heart-wrenching it can be when Fido isn't feeling quite like themselves.
We encourage our readers to take a step back and reevaluate why your dog may be suffering. Is their food source up to the standards that you would expect for yourself? Are you reading the labels before choosing a product that simply seems healthy? There are so many things that pet parents can do on their end to ensure that their furbaby is reaping all the benefits that their food source should be providing. Choosing organic ensures that you are not feeding your pup dangerous additives, meat by-products, or anything that you wouldn't feel comfortable eating yourself.
The bottom line is that overall health and well-being begin from the inside out. Providing the best quality of food for Fido will, in turn, provide Fido with the best quality of life.
Chelsea Rivera is a holistic pet wellness expert and writer. She manages written content for Honest Paws - a company that specializes in CBD oil for dogs and cats. Additionally, she is the founder and lead writer for SimpleWag, which focuses on holistic wellness and natural alternatives for dogs.