I absolutely adore my two chihuahuas (Nancy and Logan). They’re more than just dogs, they are like my children. Naturally, I want them to be as healthy and as happy as they possibly can be.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ll appreciate the intense joy your experience with your dog. When your gorgeous doggy looks into your eyes you feel like your heart will just melt.
As dog lovers, we need to be aware of our dog’s nutritional and dietary needs. Providing the best possible diet for your dog helps them to maintain a healthy weight. It also protects them from a variety of ailments from allergies and joint stiffness to cancer and heart disease.
Keeping your dog in tip-top condition also means fewer trips to the vet. Vet visits can be stressful for you and your dog. Feeding your dog organic food means less stress and more money in your pocket.
Making sure that you are feeding your dog healthy and nutritious food usually means doing a fair bit of research. It’s not always easy to find the information you’re looking for. There is no one-recipe-fits-all when it comes to feeding your dog.
Nutritional requirements can vary quite a bit between size and breeds. You need to take your dog’s age into account, as well as any individual needs they have. Some dogs need a sensitive dog food, others will thrive on a high fibre dog food or a high protein dog food.
A good diet is essential for keeping your dog bright eyed and bushy tailed. It can also be beneficial for your dog’s muscle tone, digestion and immunity.
I wanted to give my dog’s the best possible diet. So I did a ton of research on organic dog food. It was also interesting to look at sensitive dog food and high fibre dog food. I wanted to figure out what they were all about. I also wanted to know whether organic dog food was any better than regular dog food.
What is Organic Dog Food?
The term “organic” In relation to human food is highly regulated. The AAFCO, (Association of American feed control officials) has yet to define the term “organic” in relation to pet food. The current guidelines that apply are therefore the same as those that apply to human food.
This is great news for dog lovers. It means that in order to use the label “organic”, pet food manufacturers must follow extremely high standards. The same ones governing human food production. However, it is highly likely that pet specific guidelines will be introduced in the near future.
Stringent guidelines mean that in organic dog food, the plant-based ingredients are not treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic dog food is always free from harmful chemicals and contains no genetically modified ingredients. Any meat or poultry that goes into organic dog food has to have been raised on organic feed. Animals used must be allowed access to the outdoors. The use of growth hormones, antibiotics and preservatives in organic dog food ingredients is also prohibited.
The number of organic ingredients in different dog foods can vary. It’s helpful to understand how the labelling system on dog food packaging works.
According to USDA guidelines, pet food containing less than 70% organic ingredients can’t include the word “organic” on the packaging. However, they can still list organic ingredients in the ingredients list on the back.
Dog food containing between 70% and 95% of organic ingredients is allowed to say “made with organic ingredients”. But will not have the USDA organic seal.
If a dog food is at least 95% organic, then the packaging will display the USDA organic seal.
Only products that are 100% organic can display both the USDA organic seal and say “100% organic” on the packaging.
Is organic dog food better for my dog?
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about whether organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic. A 2012 study, carried out by the smart folks at Stanford University, claims that there’s not much difference in the nutritional value of conventionally grown and organically grown produce.
You can read more about the study here:
Organic pet foods are not necessarily more nutritious than non-organic varieties. What makes organic foods better for both dogs and humans are the substances that they DON’T contain. To be certified organic, foods must be free from pesticides, fertilizers and toxic chemicals. When you feed your dog an organic pet food you are minimising your furry angel’s exposure to these potentially harmful substances.
A good, fully organic dog food will be completely free from any substances that could harm your dog’s health, including flavourings, preservatives and fillers. Common fillers used in some dog foods are feathers, seed and nut hulls, weeds and straw. A good organic dog food may also contain antioxidants which have can have numerous health benefits for your dog.
Organic products should be easier for your dog to digest and more enjoyable for them to eat. If you are switching your dog from a non-organic to an organic diet, you should be able to see a difference in the frequency or size of their bowel movements.
Switching Fido to an organic diet for a short period can also help the little guy to recover from a stomach upset or minor skin condition.
Just because a dog food is organic doesn’t mean that it’s going to be better than any non-organic option. An organic diet that is high in sugar, for example, can be bad for your health even though the sugars you’re consuming are natural. The same logic applies when dealing with pet food.
It is important to be aware that organic growing standards can differ greatly from country to country. So you might want to think about where your pet food was made before you buy.
There are ecological as well as health-related reasons to buy organic dog food. The agricultural practices used to create organic dog food means that it is much more environmentally friendly. Soil depletion is a serious issue which can affect the nutrient density in both human and pet foods.
What if a dog food is advertised as “natural” or “holistic”?
Marketers figured out a long time ago that by slapping the word “natural” on their packaging they sold more products. These days there are so many different pet foods that are advertised as being natural, and the words “natural” and “organic” are often used interchangeably.
This can be really confusing when you’re standing in the pet shop staring at a hundred different products trying to figure out which one is going to keep your dog strong and healthy. So, let’s clear up some of this confusion and take a look at what the term “natural” actually means.
The association of American feed control officials (AAFCO) define the word “natural” as It applies to pet food as follows:
A food or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having being produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.
So, for a pet food manufacturer to use the label “natural” on their products they must be free from synthetically produced ingredients. However, there is an exception to this rule in regards to vitamins and minerals.
Basically, this means that artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives are not allowed. But it’s ok for pet food manufacturers to add synthetic substances if they are deemed to be beneficial to the dog’s health. Any dog food that is not completely made up of “natural” ingredients as it is defined above, cannot use the word “natural” on its packaging.
“Holistic” is another word that is often thrown into the mix and this is a term that is not regulated within the pet food industry. When applied to pet food, the term holistic doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s simply a buzzword that people associate with healthy food, and so manufacturers take advantage of this to help sell more products.
If you’re ever in any doubt then check the label, as that’s where the most reliable information on the contents can be found.
What are the benefits of organic dog food?
Feeding Fido organic will make him live longer.
Let’s talk about fruit flies. A 16-year-old student named Ria Chhabra impressed the hell out of the scientific community back in 2013. Ria conducted a three-year-long-study, comparing an organic and non-organic diet using fruit flies as her test subjects.
She looked at 3 main factors, fertility, life expectancy, and stress resistance. Ria discovered that when fruit flies were fed solely on organic fruit and vegetables, there was a huge increase in each of these 3 areas. Ria’s experiment revealed that fruit flies fed exclusively on organic material lived longer, reproduced more, and coped better with stress.
This bright young girls study also revealed that there were higher concentrations of vitamin C in organic fruit and vegetables when compared to non-organic. Ria’s findings, therefore, give credit to the idea that organic food can sometimes be more nutritious.
There are lots of potential benefits to feeding your dog organic produce. If an organic diet can increase the lifespan of a fruit fly, It’s certainly not crazy to assume that it can also increase the life expectancy of your canine companion. If you want your dog to live as long as possible (who doesn’t want that?) and to be as healthy as possible then an organic diet is a great place to start.
Putting your dog on an organic diet can save you headaches and money.
Although organic dog food is usually more expensive, you are likely to actually save money in the long run. It’s often worth the expense when you consider that organic food can strengthen your dog’s immune system. By feeding your dog an organic diet you are providing them with the nutrients they need to fight off all kinds of bacterial nasties. This means you are less likely to incur expensive vet bills.
If your dog has food allergies, switching them to an organic diet can be a godsend. A lot of dogs develop allergic reactions to the artificial components present in commercial dog foods.
This can cause a whole heap of symptoms including vomiting, itching, ear infections, diarrhoea and ulcers. As we’ve already touched on, organic dog food is free from toxic pesticides and chemicals. This makes it the perfect choice for dog owners who want to alleviate their fur baby’s symptoms.
As a chihuahua owner, I know all about doggy anxieties. Every article on the internet about anxious dogs seems to be about a chihuahua! It’s understandable If you weighed 4lbs and everyone was bigger than you then you’d be anxious too!
There are many different types of anxiety that dogs can experience. Separation anxiety is the one most dog owners are familiar with. There are dogs that suffer from noise anxiety, social anxiety and even situational anxiety as well.
If your dog has behavioural problems or is overly anxious an organic diet can help them to stay calm and happy. It is also recommended that you reduce your dog’s protein intake if they are anxious or aggressive. A change in diet should also be accompanied by an increase in exercise when dealing with an anxious dog.
Organic Dog Food Feeding tips
Any change in diet should always be done gradually to avoid stomach upset. You should never make an abrupt change to your dog’s diet unless advised to by a vet.
Don’t treat the recommended feeding amount on dog food packaging as gospel. Manufacturers often want you to consume as much of their product as possible. So be aware of this when dishing out portion sizes.
Don’t interrupt your dog while it’s eating as this can lead to food aggression and/or anxiety.
Don’t feed your dog shortly before a car ride unless you want to risk getting vomit all over your seats!
Making organic food at home – eggs are great!
A great way to feed your dog organically, and one that you might not have thought about, is to make the food yourself at home. Putting on an apron and hitting the kitchen to cook up some delicious recipes for your four-legged best friends can be an extremely rewarding experience.
Making the food yourself allows you to keep control of exactly what goes into your dog’s body. If you need a sensitive dog food or a high protein dog food, the do-it-yourself approach is one way you can achieve this.
Homemade food is great for dogs with health problems. There are tons of healthy homemade recipes that can be really fun to make (I have come across recipes for peanut butter cookies, chicken jerky and even frozen yoghurt pops for dogs!).
Doing a quick Google search for “organic dog food recipes” will get you going. If you find a recipe that isn’t organic, then simply substitute the ingredients for organic ones, easy! Organic brown rice is great for dogs and the same goes for raw organic eggs. If the yolk is a deep rich orange and the white is not too watery you’re onto a winner!
Raw organic eggs pack a serious protein punch, they make a perfect addition if you are looking for a high protein dog food recipe. We all know how vital protein is for all aspects of your dog’s health. You can also include organic vegetables like sweet potato, green beans and carrots.
If you’d rather not go to the time and trouble it takes to make your own dog food then shame on you (just kidding, I know how busy you are!). Your pooch can still benefit from the addition of raw organic eggs to their regular diet, just crack one over your dog’s normal food and see how fast that tail wags!
Organic rice, eggs and vegetables are relatively cheap. However, if your dog is a hardcore carnivore you may find that this method gets very expensive due to the high cost of organic meat products.
There’s nothing like feeding your dog home cooked food to make you feel good about yourself (who’s the best doggy parent in the world!) and to get your dog’s tail wagging. Both homemade and store-bought organic food can vastly improve the quality of life and energy levels of your pet.
If you do decide to make your own organic dog food or treats, and I would highly recommend that you give it a go, then please make sure that you stick to low sugar and low-fat ingredients. Try it, your dog will love you for it!
Is organic dog food suitable for puppies?
Of course! It’s never too early to start feeding your dog an organic diet! You can even feed organic dog food to a pregnant bitch to give her pups the best possible start in life. There are plenty of organic puppy food options on the market that cater to the specific nutritional needs of your growing pup.
If you are making food for your puppy at home, be sure to take special care that you get the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and minerals to ensure that you meet your puppy’s needs.
Be especially careful with puppies not to make radical changes to their diet, as this can cause digestive upset. Remember that puppies need to eat more regularly than adult dogs (four times a day is normal). If your dog is quite young and you want to change their diet it’s better to do it gradually.
You can tell a lot about your dog’s digestion by looking at their stools. A healthy poop should be dark brown, firm and fully formed. If your dog’s stools are too soft or they are farting like crazy then you might need to think about changing their diet!
Is organic dog food suitable for a sensitive stomach?
Absolutely! in fact, if your dog has a sensitive stomach then switching to organic dog food could help them tremendously! A lot of dogs have sensitive stomachs because they’ve developed an allergy to something artificial that is present in commercial dog foods. When you go organic you cut out a lot of the nasties that can irritate a dog’s tummy.
Sometimes your dog’s sensitive stomach is a result of too much fat in their diet. Dogs find fats more difficult to digest than proteins or carbohydrates, so it’s a good idea to switch to an organic dog food with a fat content of around 15% or less.
Fibre is great for your dog’s digestion and there are many high fibre dog foods to choose from, so look for products that contain natural fibres like beet pulp for example. If you make changes to your dog’s diet and don’t see any results then you should always consult a veterinarian.
Making your own dog food using stomach friendly organic ingredients like chicken, turkey, eggs, pumpkin, brown rice and sweet potato can make the world of difference to your furry friend’s digestion.
A good rule of thumb when your dog has a sensitive stomach is to keep the diet really simple. Be sure to make any changes gradually and to monitor their stools as mentioned above. You should allow your dog around 10 days to adjust to any new diet.
My dog has sensitive skin, will organic food help?
It depends on the cause of the problem.
Sensitive skin is one of the most common reasons that pet owners visit the vet. It’s heartbreaking to see a dog suffering from a skin condition and it’s only natural to want to do anything you can to help them. If your dog has a skin condition you should absolutely visit the vet as soon as possible.
Allergies are the most common cause of skin conditions in dogs. Your dog could be allergic to a parasite or to something in the environment as well as to food substances. If your dog is suffering because of a food allergy, making the switch to an organic diet is definitely worthwhile and could potentially reverse the symptoms completely. It may also be worth doing anyway to help eliminate food substances as the possible cause of the irritation.
So, now that you have all of the information, hopefully, you feel confident and positive about the benefits an organic diet can provide for your dog’s health.
I wish you and your doggies the very best of luck on your journey.