Many people will spend lots of time, money, and energy curating an organic diet of all-natural foods for themselves and their families… but then, when it comes to their furry friends, they might settle for conventional kibble and processed foods.
Does this sound like you?
The world of raw, organic, and all-natural pet food can be confusing and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Your pet’s diet has an immense effect on their wellbeing, and making a significant switch could be just the ticket to a lot more tail wags and toothy grins. At Tunie’s Fresh Pet Market, we carry the most trusted, popular raw and organic pet food brands, so we put together this pet food guide to help you as you decide on the best diet for your animal. Even if you’re comfortable with your pet’s current diet, take a look through our guide to learn more about the various options you might not have known about before.
Dogs and other family pets deserve to be shown the same love and attention to their health and wellness as their human counterparts. Pet owners, it’s time to take your dog’s health into your own hands, starting with their diet! Here’s everything to know about all-natural, organic, and raw pet food.
What is Kibble?
Let’s start off by talking about conventional dog food, known as kibble.
Kibble is essentially processed, cooked dog food. Each brand is different, but one thing they all have in common is that they are regulated by the USDA to be balanced and meet the nutritional needs of a dog, to be safe and sanitary, to contain no harmful substances, and to be labeled correctly and truthfully. Common ingredients include things like protein from beef, poultry, fish and eggs; grains; cereals; vitamins and minerals; and antioxidants.
Some kibble brands are better than others, focusing more on protein-packed ingredients, while others may be higher in carbohydrates and added sugar. Dried dog food products also contain preservatives in order to keep them shelf-stable. As with any food item, reading the nutritional label and consulting with your veterinarian before implementing it into your pet’s diet is very important.
Instead of feeding their dogs a diet of processed, preservative-filled foods, many owners decide to make the switch to fresh pet food, whether it’s for ethical or medical reasons, or simply because of their own personal preference. Going fresh is not hard to do; it just means feeding your pet real, unprocessed food.
Don’t feel like you have limited ingredients when it comes to feeding your dog a fresh food diet. Eating fresh comes in all shapes and sizes — frozen food included! We will start off by talking about one of the freshest diets around: a raw food diet.
What to Know About Raw Dog Food Diets
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a raw food diet includes only uncooked and unprocessed foods. Essentially, people who follow a raw food diet are only eating foods that are still in their natural state. In place of cooking, preparation methods include blending, drying, juicing, soaking, or sprouting.
The same idea can be applied to your pets’ food. Raw dog food diets focus mainly on the consumption of raw meat (especially organ meat such as liver or kidney), meaty bones, pet-safe fruits and vegetables, raw eggs, and some dairy products such as yogurt.
Risks of Raw Dog Food Diets
- An increased potential of foodborne bacteria that could harm animals and their humans
- A less consistent, balanced diet that could be damaging to a dog’s health over an extended period of time
- An increased potential for an animal to choke, damage their teeth, or suffer internal punctures when chewing on bones
It’s important to note a few things here. First, the increased risk of encountering foodborne bacteria is assumed whenever you deal with raw food. This is no different than the increased potential of contracting salmonella when handling raw chicken. Additionally, the third risk only applies when you’re feeding your pet food with whole bones still in it. At Tunie’s Fresh Pet Market, we carry brands with soft and freeze-dried options such as Stella and Chewy’s and Primal.
Veterinarians also note that raw diets are never good for certain dogs, e.g., dogs who live with young children or people with compromised immune systems, dogs with pancreatitis or cancer, dogs who are going through chemotherapy, dogs with late-stage kidney or liver failure, and dogs with any kind of immunosuppressive disease. In these cases, or if the dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s ideal to start with homemade, cooked foods with high quality ingredients before switching to a raw diet. A raw diet is also rarely good for puppies, as it has the potential to lead to bone deformities and problems with proper growth. Always consult with your pet’s primary vet before committing to a diet switch.
Keeping these increased risks and no-go cases in mind, raw diets can absolutely yield incredible benefits for many pets. Recent years have seen a rise in the diet’s popularity as more pet owners have seen the ways raw food can improve their dog’s wellbeing.
Potential Benefits of Raw Dog Food Diets
- Healthier skin
- Shinier coats
- Cleaner teeth
- Increased Energy
- Smaller stool
According to one story cited on Fetch by WebMD, a dog owner switched all three of her dogs to a raw food diet after her German Shepherd was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, the shepherd’s condition was too far advanced for the diet change to save him, but it made a huge difference in the quality of life for the other two dogs. The owner noted a positive increase in both of their energy levels, and the pup who had been struggling with chronic digestive issues was now able to tolerate a raw diet much better.
Tunie’s owners, Audra and Dave, found relief for their Saint Bernard, Moses, after switching him to a raw, organic diet. When Moses began experiencing prolonged and increasingly aggressive seizures without any explanation, a doctor recommended making the diet change. In just a year’s time, Moses’s seizures have completely stopped, and Audra and Dave no longer have to watch their lumbering furbaby suffer.
Audra’s brother, Neil, experienced something similar with his own dog, Shadow. Shadow had been losing hair, almost to the point of going completely bald, But after Neil changed him to a raw, organic diet, his coat began to grow back, thick and healthy.
It is these inspiring stories that are encouraging for people whose pets are suffering from any kind of disease or condition. It gives them hope and a reason to give this new dietary lifestyle a shot.
If you decide to switch your dog to a raw food diet, our Tunie’s team does stress the importance of consulting with a professional regarding safe food handling and preparation of raw foods to ensure that you are following the health regulations and protocol for this type of diet. The whole point is to improve the health of your pup, not introduce it to any unnecessary health risks.
What to Know About Organic Dog Food Diets
In order for a product to be considered USDA Certified Organic, it must follow strict production, handling, and labeling standards and go through an organic certification process. Those standards address things like the quality of the soil where the product is grown, how the animals are raised, and pest and weed control.
Just as with people food, dog food that is labeled as organic must be free of all antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides, and preservatives. These organic pet foods must also be non-GMO and not be irradiated or grown in fertilizer that has had any kind of chemicals added to it.
Many pet owners choose to solely feed their dogs organic food because of the health benefits.
Potential Benefits of Organic Dog Food Diet
- Improved digestive health, including healthier, more regular bowel movements
- Improved skin health
- Reduction in allergies
- Decreased risk of obesity
- Increased energy
- Boosted immune system
Organic foods are also filled with the essential vitamins and minerals that your dog’s body needs. When you feed your dog an organic diet, you know it’s getting the highest quality meat and produce.
Make sure to check the food labels to see whether a product is totally organic or only partially so. If the label states 100% organic, it means that every single ingredient must be organic. Many times products will just be labeled “organic,” which means that only 95% of the ingredients are organic, and the other 5% must come from a special list of foods or additives approved by the USDA. If the label says “made with organic,” it means that only 70% of the ingredients are organic.
What to Know About Natural Dog Food Diets
It is important to note that the words organic and natural are not interchangeable. As mentioned above, there is a very strict protocol that must be followed in order for a food or product to be considered organic and legally labeled as so. Natural food is less about the process of creating the food, and more about the food itself. Natural pet food is made without any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and many are also made without any byproducts such as skeletal meats, connective tissue, blood, or organs. As its name would suggest, natural food is food in its pure and natural state.
According to Petsmart, ingredients such as corn, wheat, soy, rice, oats, and buckwheat can cause food sensitivities in some animals. This is why many people seek out quality dog food labeled not only as natural, but also grain-free. Although brown rice is considered a grain, it is not one that causes any stomach issues for dogs. In fact, according to Purina, brown rice is used regularly in dog food because of its nutritional profile. It is an easily digestible carbohydrate that provides plenty of minerals and B vitamins.
Shop For Organic, Natural, and Raw Dog Food at Tunie’s Fresh Pet Market
Before deciding on the best diet for your dog, consult a veterinarian, preferably one who is familiar with and advocates for raw feeding, or an organic and/or natural diet. These professionals can help determine which of these diets is the best decision for your dog and its individual needs.
The American Kennel Club also suggests taking certain things into consideration when choosing the best food for your dogs, including your pet’s overall health, activity level, age and size, food allergies, taste preferences, and your own personal lifestyle.
At Tunie’s Market, we are committed to providing our customers with all the best in organic and natural products — pet food included! We are excited to announce that we recently launched a new raw, organic, and natural pet food section in the store that includes a variety of freeze dried or dry dog food, grain-free pet food, and other natural dog foods. We source our items from companies like Stella & Chewy’s, whose products are made with responsibly sourced ingredients that are completely free of any and all artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors, and whose meats have no added hormones or antibiotics.
You can also conveniently shop for your pets online at our brand new online store!
So whether you have always followed a raw, organic, and/or natural diet for your pet, or you are just starting to make the transition, Tunie’s Market has everything you need to keep your pets healthy and happy! Talk to a team member today to learn more about Tunie’s Fresh Pet Market.