Natural vs Commercial Dog Food
“You are what you eat,” goes the old saying, and this is just as true for dogs as it is for people. This is why a lot of dog owners wonder whether they should buy something more for their dog than the
commercially available mass produced dog food that is out there. Is there a health
advantage to buying more natural dog food from a boutique pet store as opposed to the more generic commercially available dog
food? Opinions vary on the
Definition of Natural Dog Food
The first question that needs to be answered is, how do we define natural dog food? To most people, natural dog food is made with ingredients that are as close to their natural state (as
they are found in nature) as possible. The bare minimum of chemicals is used, and as little
processing as possible is done. If you look at the ingredients of natural dog food, you should
recognize the ingredients as being food, and not part of a chemistry class.
To proponents of natural dog food, mass produced commercial dog food is crammed with chemicals and
preservatives. It is typically made with “feed grade” (not suitable for humans) ingredients, which are low in nutritional value.
Sick animals that are too toxic for human consumption are ground up and used in dog food. Even
premium commercial dog food can contain large amount of fillers, which are designed to push the food through the dog. The higher price paid for premium dog food is spent on fancy
packaging and advertising (or so some charge).
To others, including dog trainers and veterinarians, the above simply isn’t true.
Stiff competition in the commercial dog food market has raised the quality of the product substantially, particularly in
the last 10 years. If you choose a dog food product from any major dog food company, you are
likely to be fine. The chemicals used in commercially available dog food are no different than
those often found in a human diet. In fact, it can be argued that a dog consuming high quality
commercially available dog food is getting a healthier diet than most people! In addition,
dry dog food can help clean a dog’s teeth, and can lead to a lower volume of stools.
The only caveat to the value of commercially
available dog food is no name brand, generic dog food. There have been studies done (for example,
a 1986 study by the university of
Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine) that show that dogs fed exclusively on no name generic dog
food to acquire nutritional deficiencies. The term “generic dog food disease” was
even coined for this malnutrition syndrome. Again, however, this is only for the cheap of the
At the end of the day, your dog will most likely thrive on basic, high quality dry dog food. However, if you wish, there is nothing wrong with giving him a treat of natural, specialty dog food, from
time to time. I’m sure your dog won’t complain!
PS - If you are interested in trying out some natural dog food, try the Botanical Dog.
They only ship within the USA, but they have some good stuff. To check it out, click here or on the logo to