Natural or Not? Made in USA? Grain Free? 

More and more  pet food companies are getting the message that their customers are seeking natural and grain free products for their dogs. As a result of that, we are seeing a flood of commercials on TV from big name pet food touting their new, natural grain free formulas. 

So what is "natural" when it comes to pet food? The definition is not clear cut or easy to understand. The realm of "natural" allows for a lot of leeway in my opinion. This is the official definition of "natural" according to the American Association of Feed Control Officials AAFCO (the governing body for feed ingredients which includes dog and cat foods)  "NATURAL: A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected 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 except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices."  Natural does not mean unprocessed or unaltered from its original form. 

What's worse is that a company can claim it uses ALL NATURAL CHICKEN on the label and the consumer purchasing the product has no idea that the natural chicken used in their pet's food has been labelled as unfit for human consumption and was sourced in China.  Products manufactured in the USA may be marked as such, and AAFCO requires manufacturers using a Made in the USA label to source all or virtually all the raw materials from the USA but these claims are not 100 % foolproof or required to be substantiated by the manufacturer. Read this article from The Truth About Pet Food for more on this topic. 

While it is true that dogs do not have a biological need for grains in their natural diet, it is also true that dogs do not have a biological need for a bag of potatoes either. Any kibbled dog food can not be made without some type of carbohydrate or binder to hold the kibble together.  Let's face it, a bag of raw meat is not shelf stable. Traditionally, grains have been used in kibble because they are relatively inexpensive and readily available to manufacturers. Some grains such as corn even help boost the protein levels of the food so the manufacturer doesn't need to use animal protein sources that are more expensive.  Companies are now using potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, chickpeas, garbanzo beans, tapioca and other non grains as replacements for grain when making their grain free products.  Be wary of grain free kibbles that contain too much filler. They are out there and in most cases, you get what you pay for...a bag of potatoes or some other filler. It is highly unlikely that you will ever find a high quality, meat dense grain free kibble at a bargain basement price.  

At Razzle Dazzle, we are happy to help you find the foods that work best for your dog.  We carefully research all the products we sell. We will only sell products from manufacturers that we truly trust to source out top quality ingredients and raw materials. We check out each manufacturer's track record of production and their history of recalls. We won't stock products from big name pet food companies owned by mega corporations whose only concern is making money at your pet's expense. Finding the best food for your dog can be a challenge but we are here to help.  The best food on paper may not turn out to be what works best for your dog.  We highly recommend you visit websites such as The Dog Food Advisor for more information about selecting a quality dry, canned, or raw food for your dog.  If you need help choosing between products we would be happy to assist you with a free nutrition consultation and provide samples of some of our products when you visit our store.