Description: Animals benefit from organic, fresh, whole foods in the same way as humans. More and more organic pet foods, made without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers, are becoming available. They should be non-irradiated, and free of chemical additives and preservatives. Feeding your pets organic foods eliminates the buildup of chemical residues that has adverse health effects on dogs, cats and all animals, including humans.

What to look for: Protein, such as chicken, turkey, lamb or beef, should be one of the first ingredients. Choose meat that is free of antibiotics, hormones, artificial preservatives, additives and colors. All ingredients should be organically grown and have natural antioxidants added as a preservative, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and rosemary. Many premium foods now include fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, sweet potatoes, and carrots, offering added flavor and nutrition. These ingredients are far superior to artificial sweeteners.

Animals need essential fatty acids for optimal skin function and health. Additionally, probiotics like lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidobacteria are “friendly bacteria” for bowel health, complementing digestion and converting food into nutrients.

Uses: Daily feeding of pets. When introducing a new brand of pet food, mix it with your current brand over a period of weeks (2-3), so your pet’s digestive system can adjust to the new food. Store dry food in a cool, dry, dark place, ensuring it is tightly sealed in the original bag.

Where to find: Natural Food Stores, Pet Stores, Online Resources.

Avoid: Large pet food manufacturers use protein from sources unfit for consumption that can contain traces of hormones, insecticides and antibiotics. Avoid any byproducts that often include rejected meats taken from diseased or disabled animals. Be wary of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) by avoiding wheat, corn, and soy, which also may cause allergies in dogs and cats. Grain byproducts such as wheat middlings, bakery fines, rice and white flour should also be avoided, as they are nutrient deficient. No refined salt or sugars. Please be wary of chemical additives, artificial preservatives, flavors, colors and dyes, as they can instigate skin allergies, hyperactivity, mood swings and aggressiveness. You may need to put your animal on an “elimination diet” to isolate problems. Chemical antioxidants such as BHA and BHT are used to preserve pet foods, despite evidence that suggests they are harmful.

Not all natural pet foods are created equal. Read the label on your pet’s current food and compare.