Everywhere you look, natural is all around – human food in grocery stores, cleaning products, and yes – there's natural dog food too. So what is natural dog food, and does it make a difference as you feed your dog?
What is Natural Dog Food?
When we talk about natural dog food, AAFCO defines natural pet food as any complete product or individual ingredients that aren't man-made. When describing a dog food as "natural", all ingredients in the blend must meet this definition – with the exception of some synthetic nutrients like essential amino acids, vitamins or minerals that help make the food nutritionally complete. That's why you'll see our blends referred to as "natural dog food plus vitamins & minerals". Nature doesn't produce these nutrients in quantities that the world needs them, which is why pet food manufacturers (and human food manufacturers!) often turn to using synthetic vitamins and minerals. Although synthetic, these nutrients serve the exact same purpose and function exactly the same in your dog's body as their naturally-found equivalents.
Why Natural Dog Food Doesn't Look Like What You’d Find at the Farmer's Market
Let's dig deeper. AAFCO's definition of natural pet food applies ingredients in that haven't had any synthetic additives, processing aids, or gone through chemically synthetic processes. You know what these look like: Whole potatoes. Freshly-caught salmon. All those good ingredients.
But what about kibble? How can dog food kibble be natural if they end up looking nothing like the ingredients you'd find at the farmer's market? AAFCO's definition of natural also extends to ingredients that have undergone changes like heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, etc. – but are never exposed to chemical changes through contact with synthetic ingredients or processes.
Plus, it's interesting to take a look at what really goes on inside your dog's kibble. Packed inside those tiny bites is a full day's worth of nutrients. Everything your dog needs. Nothing he doesn't. A complete and balanced diet at every meal. Stop and think about that for a second – every vitamin, every trace mineral calculated and easily delivered inside a handful of food. Think about how hard humans have to work to get a balanced meal! Kibble's also extremely efficient and concentrated. Did you know that pound for pound, Just Right kibble has...
- 1.5% more protein than chicken*
- 1.4% more fat than chicken
- 2.5% more energy than chicken
*Based on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference's analysis of chicken compared with the Guaranteed Analysis from a typical Just Right by Purina blend.
That's a lot of nutritional power packed into a dog bowl.
How Natural Dog Food Benefits Your Pet
Although AAFCO doesn't assert that natural nutrition is necessarily safer or healthier, it really comes down to your nutritional philosophy. You want to be comfortable giving your dog the best nutrition you can. And if you're looking to reduce the artificial ingredients in your dog's food, then a natural diet may be a good choice. At the end of the day, it's completely up to you.
If you do choose to go with a natural diet, make sure that the dog food you select goes further than just the natural claim on the bag, since "natural" is no indication that it's a quality dog food or that it’s formulated for your unique dog’s nutritional needs and preferences. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is the formula 100% complete and balanced for my dog's life stage?
- How is the word "natural" used on the label? Does it describe the entire formula or just an ingredient or two?
- Does the formula contain any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives?
- Is real, high-quality meat, poultry or fish the first ingredient?
- Does it contain other ingredients you want to avoid, such as wheat, corn or soy?
- Is it made by a brand/company that you know and trust?
The Just Right Natural Nutrition Philosophy
Here at Just Right by Purina, we believe in natural, wholesome nutrition because your dog’s food should be pure and simple. We believe in no poultry by-product meal, fish by-product meal or meat by-product meal, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives – because you deserve to know what’s going in your dog’s food. And we believe in real chicken, salmon or lamb as the first ingredient – because your dog deserves only the best.