When shopping for dog food, we have many choices. Sometimes it can even be overwhelming to select the best dog food for your furry companion. Should you buy organic food for dogs? Grain-free? Gluten-free? Raw? Kibble? Canned? Freeze-dried dog food?
In our humble (but heavily researched) opinion, we believe that selecting organic dog food is best. However, in the final analysis, selecting an organic human-grade dog food might be the best bet for your dog and here’s why.
What Is Human-Grade Dog Food?
There are many dog food brands labeled as organic food for dogs, but very few also can claim to be “human-grade” food as well. Human-grade simply means that all of the ingredients in your dog’s food are suitable and approved as food for humans.
Why is this important? In general, kibble and canned dog food do not contain human-grade sources of animal protein. Dog food manufacturers are not required to use human-grade cuts of beef, poultry or other proteins. Instead, they use the scraps leftover after the animal has been processed for sale to humans. (These also add cheap fillers such as corn, soy and wheat.)
While these scraps aren’t always terrible for your dog, sometimes the meat “meal” includes bits of bone and skin or chicken feet, etc. In the worst cases, the protein comes from diseased animals. This is perfectly legal, but is it really what you want for your canine companion?
With human-grade dog food, all of the ingredients used are suitable for human consumption and there are very few dog food brands that adhere to this standard. There are almost no kibble-based brands that could be considered human-grade and few canned wet food brands that qualify.
Typically, if you want human-grade food, you will need to select a fresh dog food brand, such as our Naked Dog Bistro dog food. Some freeze-dried dog food and raw dog food brands also offer human-grade food.
We typically don’t recommend raw food because of the health risk (both to dogs and their human companions) associated with raw meats, such as salmonella, E-coli and listeria. Additionally, raw food generally includes only raw meat and that’s not providing a diet that meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs.
Even “dogs in the wild” foraged for nutrients beyond meat protein and domesticated dogs need a more complete food than just noshing on raw meat. Dogs need protein, carbohydrates, fats and an assortment of vitamins and minerals, just like their humans.
Why Organic Dog Food?
Making the switch to human-grade is important because it ensures that the ingredient are high quality, however, we recommend taking it a step further and opting for organic food for dogs.
Selecting dog food with organic ingredients ensures that your pooch isn’t ingesting any pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. True organic food is raised without the use of these chemicals.
While we recommend serving your dog food with organic ingredients, it’s also smart to look at the label and check for other unwholesome ingredients such as artificial flavors, and artificial colors and artificial preservatives.
When reading dog food labels, look for ingredients such as BHA, BHT, nitrates, cellulose, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate and other chemical names. Also, look for any type of added salt or sweeteners, such as corn syrup, which aren’t healthy additions to your dog’s diet.
What About Grain-Free Dog Food & Gluten-Free Dog Food?
Dogs, just like humans, can have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition that affects the body’s ability to process gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, and gluten also is sometimes used as a thickener or binder in foods, including some dog foods.
While not all dogs are allergic to gluten, some are sensitive to this protein. We find that eliminating grains and gluten can lead to a reduction in allergies, digestive issues and even inflammation.
Whether you have a dog constantly licking their paws, a dog that has trouble digesting kibble or canned food or a dog with arthritis or other health issues, reducing or eliminating grains and gluten may help.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that many of the grains used in dog food are simply there as cheap fillers. For instance, corn is a common filler. Most dogs can digest corn, but it provides almost no nutritional value. It’s simply a cheap ingredient that helps dog food companies keep their costs down.
Wheat and soy are other commonly used cheap fillers and again, these provide little nutritional value, but some dogs do have sensitivity to wheat and soy. Some dog foods also use pea protein, but this is usually heavily processed and has been shown to possibly contribute to canine heart disease. Fresh organic peas can be a nice addition to your dog’s diet, but we recommend avoiding foods with pea protein.
There are some grains, notably oats, brown rice and quinoa, that do not contain gluten. It can be smart to limit your dog to these gluten-free grains. Many years ago, we discovered that our dog, Kona, was gluten-intolerant. Once we switched to a grain-free, gluten-free diet, Kona thrived and enjoyed a much higher quality of life.
Our “Naked” Dog Food
When it comes to organic dog food, we believe that simple is best, which is why our dog food is “naked” without preservatives or any artificial ingredients. For instance, our chicken recipe (Paw Lickin’ Chicken) includes organic chicken breast, carrots, yellow squash and crisp fuji apples with a hint of ginger and cinnamon for fresh breath and healthy digestion.
Other varieties include proteins such as beef, lean pork, salmon and turkey. Healthy fruits and vegetables, selected for their nutritional content and flavor, also are added. These include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, kale, yams, fresh peas, Granny Smith apples, yellow squash and other wholesome ingredients and that’s all.
Our dog food is suitable for small breeds and large breeds, and our chicken and turkey varieties are pancreatitis safe. If you live in Laguna Beach, we offer a free dog food delivery service. Otherwise, you can head to our dog bakery and pick up your organic food and perhaps pick up a few homemade dog treats, as well. Our organic dog treats also are grain-free and gluten-free.
Whether you select our organic dog food or another high-quality dog food, be sure to look at the ingredient list carefully and opt for human-grade ingredients and no added chemicals. With human-grade, fresh dog food, your dog not only enjoys a healthier diet, but dogs love this type of food and if you have a picky eater, this can be a great option to consider.