When researching All Natural Dog Food I came across products that I just could not believe were claiming to be natural, especially as some of the manufacturers failed miserably in other areas for product quality
I went looking for answers and here are the results;
Definitions of Natural Food on the Web:
* "Natural foods" and "all natural foods" are widely used terms with various meanings and no legal definition. Natural foods are not necessarily organic foods.(source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_food)
* A food that has been not been processed in any way that alters covalent bonds, and to which no artificial substance has been added (source en.wiktionary.org/wiki/natural_food)
* There is no legal definition as to what constitutes a “natural” food. The USDA defines it as “A product containing no artificial ingredients or added color and only minimally processed” (ie, does not fundamentally alter the raw product). ...(source www.whiteapricot.com/fab_finds/glossary.php)
Should you wish to view further these are the links
If you use any of the following links a NEW WINDOW will open.
This is what they have to say on Natural Dog Food;
"The term "natural" is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition either. AAFCO has developed a feed term definition for what types of ingredients can be considered “natural” and “Guidelines for Natural Claims” for pet foods. For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product."
"either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation"
What! - Rendered meat can be classified as an All Natural Dog Food?!!
Just look at that again - is it me or does that not seem to indicate anything goes, even if the process would destroy the very make up of the basic raw product!
We Are Being Exploited!
It's "marketing" hype that is following a consumer trend and manufacturers are using the term "Natural" knowing that we will perceive the product as being a healthier option, which is, of course, what happens - we believe what we read because of our "they wouldn't say it if it was not true" assumption!
Scrutinize All Natural Dog Food recipes for their ingredients, which appear on the product packaging, and apply the same criteria as outlined in the Ingredients section of this website (the following link will take you there if you have not already been) plus throw into your criteria that you now want at least notations stating there are "no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives, AS A MINIMUM!
To my way of thinking this exploitation is much the same as is used for the "premium" or "gourmet" tag on labels which is very well summed up in a USFDA website comment which goes:
"Many pet foods are labeled as "premium," and some now are "super premium" and even "ultra premium." Other products are touted as "gourmet" items. Products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products."
Seems the same goes for All Natural Dog Food labels!
It is so sad that in so many areas of Dog Food manufacture, and packaging, seeing does not correlate with believing. As dog owners we have to be so diligent on what we are really feeding, when it comes to so many commercially produced products.
What To Do.
A All Natural Dog Food conjures up, in my mind, a food that resembles something like what the dog may eat if it was not domesticated, and the dog was living wild as it did many many years ago.
Small animals and birds from the dogs' own hunting skills, plus the spoils from larger animals that had died, or were the victims of another animals hunting, was the basis of the dogs' diet.
My thinking takes the line of free range, raw, digested plant life from the stomach, along with easily crunched and digested soft style bones.
So, in the absence of any legal definition, or enforceable guidelines for manufacturers, for Natural Dog Food, and having seen what some manufacturers are prepared to claim as "Natural", I believe selecting Certified Organic or the BARF option would be a better alternative, and closer to my expectations for a healthier product.
Just by way of clarification when I talk BARF (original term for Dr Billinghurst's Bone And Raw Food recipes) I am talking about the raw frozen product. There are now a number of manufacturers promoting a BARF product that is in kibble format and undergoes "cooking" in the manufacturing process.
These links will take you to the Organic and BARF sections of this website. New windows will open.