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DOG / nutrition

Natural and Organic Dog Food: What is the Difference?

The differences are subtle, but important


What makes a dog food “natural”?

It’s more about what isn’t in the food than what is. In order to be labeled “natural,” pet food must be made without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. With the exception of certain vitamins, the ingredients in natural food can come only from plants, animals, or naturally occurring minerals.

Natural dog food that is labeled “grain-free” is also made without corn, wheat, soy, rice, oats and buckwheat - ingredients that can cause food sensitivities in some animals.

Many natural brands are also free of byproducts — that is, skeletal meats, connective tissue, blood or organs. (Although, there is no proof that these ingredients are bad for dogs.)

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What makes a dog food “organic”?

In order to be labeled “organic,” pet food must also be free of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides and preservatives. Ingredients in organic food must not be genetically engineered, grown in chemical fertilizer, or irradiated.

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Decoding organic food labels

Organic pet food can be completely organic or partially organic. The label will usually explain:

  • 100% organic: All ingredients must be organic
  • Organic: At least 95% of ingredients are organic; remaining ingredients must be approved substances
  • Made with organic: At least 70% of ingredients are organic