What is Natural
The term 'natural' can simply mean that the food is preserved with Vitamins C and E rather than the traditional chemical preservatives BHT, BHA and Ethoxyquin, which, although permitted by the AAFCO, are suspected to cause some diseases in pets.
The 'natural' designation can also refer to the lack of artificial coloring and synthetic flavor enhancers in pet food.
However, the word 'natural' doesn't necessarily mean that:
- the product is free of byproducts, which may contain hair, hooves and feathers (which are, after all, technically 'natural');
- it's free of other unnecessary savory or unsavory fillers, in either type or quantity;
- the livestock providing the 'real' meat is free of growth hormones, antibiotics and other drugs;
- the livestock's diet is free of pesticides and fungicides.
A product meeting those conditions is much closer to the organic end of the spectrum, and yet it still doesn't satisfy the ultimate goals of a 'holistic' approach to your pet's nutrition.
The next significant step up is USDA-approved organic ingredients, and the ultimate end of the spectrum is a product that contains only human-grade USDA approved organic ingredients and organically grown herbs for specific health promoting purposes.
Many pet lovers are gravitating toward buying pet food that fits somewhere within this broad spectrum, and many manufacturers are meeting the demands to varying degrees.
Just like in the traditional pet food market, choosing the right natural dog food or cat food can be daunting, and requires an understanding of:
- what dogs and cats need
- your own particular pet's needs
- ingredients in pet food, and how it is made
- what the various 'natural' and other quality labels mean
To find out more about natural and holistic dog food and cat food, check out the links above for links to some leading suppliers.