What 'Natural' Really Means
These days, words like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are thrown around supermarkets like Frisbees at a dog park. They are marketing keywords that work to encouraging unwary shoppers into choosing one product over another. But what does it really mean to your pet’s health?
Despite the advances in healthier diets and better food options for everyone, there are very few regulations on labeling products as ‘natural.’ Because of this lapse, companies are able to call something natural when the only natural part of it is less than 5% of the total product. They can also use words like “natural flavorings” in their ingredients, which tells the buyer essentially nothing about what was added to their food. Because of this, we all have to learn some caution when choosing which dog food option is the healthiest.
This is why you should be on the lookout when buying foods for yourself and your family, including your pets. You should also try to stay away from things such as preservatives and other chemicals that may be added to your pet’s food. An easy way to do this is to look for recognizable ingredients. You want to see meats, vegetables, and fruits as the highest occurring ingredients in your pet’s food. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, chances are they are not good for your dog or cat, and you should move on to a better quality food.
You should also beware of foods that list wheat, corn, brewer’s rice, or other carbohydrates of that sort as the top ingredients. Although they are naturally occuring, wheat and corn are the top allergens for dogs, and cause side effects such as hotspots, itchy paws and ears, and upset stomachs. If these are symptoms your dog is experiencing, you should check your dog food ingredients, because allergies may be the problem.
These ingredients – wheat, corn, and brewer’s rice – are also dog food fillers. This means that companies specifically chose these ingredients for their cheap cost, not their nutrient value for your dog. They take up space in your pet’s food bag that could have been used for beneficial meats, fruits, and vegetables. Feeding these ingredients to your pet is a health sacrifice on the part of your dog, because their digestive systems are not made for so many grains. A diet of mainly grains can eventually cause a lot of health problems, leading to massive veterinarian bills.
In the long run, it is far better for you and your dog to check out the ingredients of your food. Know the ingredients that your pet can and should have, and be sure to find them on the ingredients label before you buy the bag. Be certain that ‘natural’ is not just a word on the bag, but a factor in the food’s production, and you will ensure a happy and healthy dog.