The buzzword today is "natural" everything...so"natural dog food" was bound to show up eventually. In fact, it seems like everywhere you look every product line is now carrying the label "natural." It makes you wonder what everything was before it became natural. Was it unnatural?
A few years ago, companies discovered that consumers were getting more interested in eating healthier foods.
These consumers had decided that the more natural a food was, the healthier it was.
Of course, this is not necessarily true. For instance, cane sugar could be considered natural, but you'd hardly call it a healthy food.
But whether or not a food was actually healthy, made little difference to these consumers. They wanted natural and they were willing to pay more for it. Of course, this was marketer's dream.
They could repackage almost any product, slap on a label saying that the product is "natural," and then charge more for it.
Now the consumers who were demanding more natural foods for themselves, also had pets. So, guess what? Yes, they also demanded natural dog food and natural cat food.
Again, the marketers went to work. With a little repackaging, they were able to resell basically the same old stuff. But, now it was called a natural pet food. And customers ate it up (well, their dogs did anyway).
If the new dog food is just the old dog food repackaged, is it really any better? And, should anyone be willing to pay more for it? In many cases, the new food is not significantly better than its predecessor.
Though, to look at the bag, you'd think it was leaps and bounds better. I'm sure you've seen the bags I'm talking about.
They usually picture beautiful examples of fruits, vegetables, grains, and choice cuts of meat. Its safe to say that the actual ingredients bare little resemblance to these pictures. Its all about marketing...convincing the consumer that their product is exactly what the consumer wants.
The bigger problem in all this is that the term "natural" has no official definition. Each company is basically free to define it as they see fit. So typically, a pet food company will feel free to use the "natural" branding if they are not adding anything artificial to their product.
It's actually easier to talk about what it should NOT contain.
To begin with, a natural dog food should never have artificial colors. If your dog food looks like it collided with a rainbow, you can bet that it has some artificial colors in the formula. Let's be clear, those pretty colors are not there to make the food better.
Pet food companies put the color in because some consumers think it looks healthy. The colors remind them of healthy ingredients. Again, it's all about marketing...giving the consumer what they want. Or, making them think they're getting what they want.
A natural pet food should also not include any artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. If you see listed on your bag of pet food any of these, you do not have anything approaching a natural product.
Many consider these preservatives dangerous to the health of pets. While nothing has been proven, its better to avoid anything suspicious. After all, the health of your pets are at stake.
So if you don't see these preservatives listed on the bag, are you safe? Unfortunately no, a loophole in the law allows pet food companies to use ingredients that contain these preservatives without having to list them as ingredients on the bag.
As long as they don't personally add the preservatives, they don't have to declare them.
This one is also a bit tricky. What you or I might call natural is not necessarily what the pet food industry calls natural. When you see any ingredient that looks to be animal-based, that's about all you can be certain of.
By law, these terms are incredibly vague. If it says "chicken" on the label, that could mean nothing more than the discarded carcass of chickens once the meat has been removed for human consumption.
If you're looking for actual natural dog food or cat food, take heart. There are companies producing pet food that deserves the "natural" label. They are typically smaller companies who put the health of pets ahead of profits.
Here's a video that talks about my favorite pet food company:
You can see more videos about the products this company sells here.
If you'd like to give their products a try, you can order them online. And yes, they have 30 day money back guarantee if for any reason you or your pet doesn't like the food (which is extremely unlikely).
If you have any question about the company or their products, feel free to contact me using this form: