How do you know if something is truly “natural” or “organic” and actually “good” for your dog? Labeling these days can leave any pet parent, present company included, scratching our heads and wondering if what we feed is truly safe to give to our precious canine family members. Natural, organic dog products can be very confusing to many dog parents.
Fidose of Reality recently attended a very educational and very informative online webinar with the Founder and CEO of Only Natural Pet. Marty Grosjean started feeding his pets a healthier diet the way most of us probably do. “I wanted to feed my dogs the same quality of natural I was eating and discovered that there wasn’t much available. That was 10 years ago,” Grosjean says. “So then we started an online store offering all kinds of natural products from other companies, then gradually began making our own.”
If any of the following topics are of interest to you, keep reading this blog post:
Reading a pet food label
Safe flea and tick protection
What is “Natural” For Dogs?
According to Grosjean, there is no definition for the term “natural” as it applies to pet food or treats. “For me, and for Only Natural Pet, we have a set of ingredient standards that any product must meet to be natural,” he says. “The first thing is human grade: Meaning if something contains ingredients so nasty I wouldn’t eat it, then I’m not going to give it to my pets, and that goes for flea and tick products. If I wouldn’t put it on my body, I won’t put it on my pets.”
Think about that for a minute: Would you eat your dog’s food? Would you feel comfortable putting the protection used on your dog to prevent fleas and ticks on your own skin? I would, and this philosophy has served me well over the years in terms of my dog’s health.
If a dog’s food is natural and the body is therefore healthy, you spend much less on vet bills and other treatments for illnesses. On a side note, this entire week, Fidose of Reality is highlighting important dog health information we received at the recent BlogPaws Conference on Lake Las Vegas, where we spent five days. Human-grade food is a very hot topic, and the folks at The Honest Kitchen are one of the brands we love in this respect. Stay tuned.
Generally speaking, for a dog treat to be “natural” it should be made in the USA and made with minimal ingredients and no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives.
For food, high protein, and no “recycled” ingredients from the human food chain, according to Grosjean.
Did you know that for dry and canned dog food, a lot of the non-natural brands use cast-off ingredients like diseased or dead animals from feed lots and meat processors, even things like sawdust, peanut hulls, chicken beaks, etc.
You can’t actually say “human grade” on a label unless it is made in a human food facility, even it if is all human grade ingredients. So read that label; more about that below.
Is There Such a Thing as Organic for Dogs?
Products labeled “100% Organic” with the “USDA Organic” seal contain only organically produced ingredients. Products made from at least 95% organic ingredients may also carry the “USDA Organic” seal. Products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients may label those on the ingredient listing. The USDA has ruled that its organic standards do apply to pet food. Most organic pet food products fall into 70% organic category, but a few follow the higher standards.
It’s important to understand that natural and organic are not at all the same. Natural, as applied to pet food, means that the ingredients come from nature (animal, vegetable, mineral); in other words, they are not synthetic. However, they may undergo many types of processing and still be considered natural. Neither term implies anything about animal welfare; products from “factory” farming and confinement operations (such as battery cages for chickens), can still be organic, natural, both, or neither.
The above information is courtesy of Only Natural Pet. Feeding organic pet foods ensures that contaminated crops treated with pesticides don’t find their way into your dog’s food bowl. You can read more about going organic and the benefits along with products that ONP sells of an organic nature on this post.
Reading a Dog Food Label
This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions. Our rule of thumb is to ignore the front of a bag, box, or can of dog food and turn it around. Read the back, look at the label, and know thine ingredients. If you take one thing away from reading this blog post it is this: Reading a dog food label can save your dog’s life, honestly.
Only Natural Pet advises “The First Five” rule” : “The First Five” is the best (and easiest) rule to follow when deciphering an ingredient panel. Ingredients are listed in descending order by pre-cooked weight, meaning that once you get past the first five ingredients, the percentages of the remaining ingredients drop dramatically.”
“Just as you’ll find quality ingredients in the “first five” of premium foods, low end and mass market foods are filled with nasty ingredients. Never buy a food with first five ingredients like animal by-product, unnamed meat meal, high glucose grains & cereals (wheat, rice & corn), corn gluten meal, or cellulose. Animal by-product is a dry render product of slaughterhouse waste; basically, this includes everything like beaks, hooves, feet, and any other undesirables. Unnamed meat meal is a collection of unspecified meat sources all mixed together, truly a mystery meat. Grains & cereals like wheat, corn & rice can spike your pet’s blood sugar levels and are not as easily digested, not to mention they lack the essential fatty acids vital to your pet’s health. Corn gluten meal is the starchy residue left after the kernels have been processed and cellulose is made from plant cell walls; both of these are inexpensive fillers with no real nutritional value.”
Safer Flea and Tick Protection
This is a topic near and dear to our hearts at Fidose of Reality. A topical well-known flea preventative in a tube caused our last Cocker Spaniel a host of side effects and issues, so we opt not to prevent fleas and ticks in this fashion. You can read our safer forms of flea and tick protection here. Some of the things Marty Grosjean recommends are:
- Look for squeeze-ons and collars that are made with “botanical” ingredients, not chemical sounding words that you can’t pronounce.
- For flea and tick alternatives, ONP carries products that use herbs and essential oils to ward off the pests, not pesticides.
- He also recommend brewer’s yeast and garlic tabs, and this is something we started using on our PR (Puppy Relations) Manager this month.
- Botanical examples are geraniums, neem trees, citronella, lemon oil.
- Marty recommends the Easy Defense tag, which you just hang on the collar like other dog tag.
- NEVER use DEET-containing products on a dog.
For more information about keeping your dog healthy along with a library of articles on healthy living in pets, be sure to visit the Only Natural Pet library of articles, and of course, stay tuned to Fidose of Reality.
QUESTION: Are you cautious about the food/treats/medications you give your dog and is natural/organic/human-grade important to you as a pet parent?