I picked up a brochure in a local pet supply store, proudly displaying the words “IT’S ALL NATURAL”. The back of the brochure says, NATURAL, HOLISTIC OR ORGANIC? Inside the tri- folds of this brochure are the long awaited neatly compressed and categorized explanations of what all this means to you and your dog.

After painstaking and time consuming internet investigation to get to the bottom line on all of this and for the sake of saving space and reading time, here is the “Cliff Note” version.

NATURAL FOOD, does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and, in the case of meat and poultry, is “minimally processed.”  Does anyone know the name of  a dry dog food that is “minimally processed.”  ???

This is actually on the following AAFCO website.

AAFCO has no statutory authority to regulate pet products.

AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods in any way.

(NATURAL DOG FOOD: (As per AAFCO) A feed 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 been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic.)

(HOLISTIC DOG FOOD: I cannot find a definition by the AAFCO for HOLISTIC DOG FOOD. Furthermore, I cannot find a definition of HOLISITC DOG FOOD anywhere else.) If you find one and can contribute to our understanding this terminology, please advise in the comment box.

We all know that holistic refers to the overall well being. My brochure says that HOLISTIC DOG FOOD concentrates on physical, mental and emotional health. It goes on to explain that an imbalance in the body leads to a range of problems and furthermore, resistance to disease and relief of pain will result in higher levels of well being. Exactly how does this apply to the dog food?  It has become obvious that the term HOLISTIC does not quite have the same meaning when referring to food as it does to lifestyle. Does a HOLISTIC approach to dog’s life not include tons of love, playing, exercising, veterinary care, proper hygiene and grooming, security and protection?

(ORGANIC DOG FOOD: I have NOT concluded that AAFCO has any strict regulations or standards for labeling ORGANIC DOG FOOD and I believe that not all ORGANIC DOG FOOD means all of the ingredients have to be certified organic.)

By Wikipedia definition, ORGANIC FOODS are produced without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering. Organic farmers are required to adhere to certain soil and water conservation methods and to rules about the humane treatment of animals. My brochure says ORGANIC DOG FOOD is free of pesticides, growth hormones, synthetic fertilizers, by-products, antibiotics and bio-engineering.

This is what I found on the AAFCO website listed above.


“Organic” refers to the handling and processing of ingredients and products. Pet foods and pet treats must comply with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) regulations (7 CFR 205).  These regulations cover:

  • ingredient sourcing
  • ingredient handling
  • manufacturing
  • labeling & certification of products wanting to use the word “organic” in their labelingNOTE:  “Organic” refers to the processing of a product, not the quality of the product.     

There are some other highly successful marketing terms used on pet food packaging that you should be aware of like; Wholesome, Nature’s, Healthy, Pro, Professional, Breeder’s,  Veterinarian, Prescription and Choice.

Here are two final “FOODS” for thought. If a company claims “human grade”, does it just means they buy their food from the same source that sells to humans or does it actually mean that their product is “fit for human consumption”? I trust you know the answer.

Dog food companies DO NOT have to list a preservative or any other ingredient that they themselves did not add. So, if “Reject Dog Food Company” buys Salmon from “ Who Cares If Dogs Get Sick Fish Company” and they use toxic preservatives, Reject Dog Food does not have to put it on their label!!!

  1. So what would I feed my dogs? I actually feed my dogs food. Real food. Food that my family eats. I cook for them and prepare special meals for them after continually researching what the healthiest foods are for canines. But that is MY choice. Not everyone is interested in devoting the time to doing that. I completely understand. If I was to feed commercial dog food it would have to be CERTIFIED ORGANIC with no corn, no wheat, no soy, and no by-products. If you look hard enough you will find them.

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