Pet Food: Should Your Pet Go Organic?
Renae Hamrick, RVT
Should you feed your dog or cat an organic pet food? What are the pros and cons of organic pet foods?
In a world that is trying hard to be healthier, there are many pet owners who are including their furry friends in the quest for an optimal lifestyle. Because of this, organic pet food sales are booming. Many pet owners are excited to offer their dogs and cats a quality pet food that is free from preservatives, antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones. Should your pet be going organic?
Why go to an Organic Pet Food?
Health improvement is the main reason people eat organic foods. Foods that are 100% natural are healthier than those with synthetic additives, which are believed to cause cancer and other health problems. Supporting small farms, improving the environment and better-tasting and fresher foods are some other organic food benefits.
Many pet owners feeding organic pet foods are skeptical about the contents of everyday dog and cat foods. Some pet foods have labels such as "meat byproducts" and "meat meal", which leave too much to the imagination. These vague ingredient listings can be used to describe parts of the animal that are left after the meat has been harvested for human consumption. These parts may include heads, bones, feet, kidneys, brain, intestines, etc. These terms can also be used to explain meat products of animals we would not consider suitable for consumption, such as roadkill, sick livestock, zoo animals, and even other pets!
What's the Proof?
There is little to no scientific research supporting the potential benefits of organic pet food.
Many organic pet food feeders have chosen these foods with hopes of improving their pets' health. They believe that feeding organic pet food diets which lack synthetic additives may prolong a pet's life and even help eliminate existing health problems.
What Should You Do?
If your veterinarian feels that the pet food you are currently feeding is appropriate and healthy for your dog or cat, and your pet is also happy with this pet food, then a food change may not be in order. If your pet is finicky about the current food you are feeding, or if you are leery of its ingredients, an organic pet food may be more acceptable. If you are battling health problems with your pet such as allergies or cancer, and you are looking for an alternative remedy, an organic pet food may be helpful.
If considering a change to organic pet food, it important to remember that there is little scientific research regarding long term effects. Do NOT begin an organic pet food without consulting your veterinarian first. Present your veterinarian with information regarding the pet food's contents so he or she can determine whether it provides sufficient nutrition, and if it is appropriate for your pet's health. If your veterinarian approves of the organic pet food, gradually ease your pet into the new diet by mixing a small of the new food with the old. With each meal, use less of the old food and more of the new.
Where Can You Find Organic Pet Food?
Organic pet foods can be found online, in markets selling organic human food, and in some gourmet pet food bakeries. Nature's Variety, Raw Advantage, Organix, Newman's Own, and Karma are just a few of the organic pet food suppliers. Be prepared to pay at least twice the amount you would pay for a non-organic pet food.
If your veterinarian approves, your wallet can support it, and your dog or cat is happy with the new pet food diet, embrace this healthy lifestyle with your pet. Sharing a major life change with a friend makes being healthy more enjoyable and helps gives you the discipline to continue.