The pet food industry discovered long ago that consumers are instantly attracted… like flies to honey… to any product labeled “natural”. They know that just adding the word “natural” to a product’s name can significantly boost sales.
And that makes unwary shoppers easy targets for profit-hungry dog food companies.
OK, then… so what’s the real meaning of the words “natural dog food“?
Welcome to an Industry Where Confusion Rules
Unfortunately, within the dog food industry itself, there’s very little agreement on exactly what the phrase “natural dog food” really means…
Some say it means “whole”… like whole grains… or whole chickens. Others think it means food that’s raw… or unprocessed.
Certainly, you’d think government agencies would know the answer to that question… right? What do they say about natural dog food?
Well, in two words… not much.
The truth is… there are no federal regulations concerning the use of the word “natural” when marketing dog food.
So, as a result, natural can mean just about anything a dog food company wants it to mean.
A Better Way to Think of Natural Dog Food
What if you were to use the word “natural” to simply describe dog food that doesn’t contain anything chemically processed… or artificial?
Thankfully, the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), has adopted this idea of “nothing artificial” as its recommended standard for “natural” pet food1 .
Now, you’ve got something you can actually use to help you screen for better quality dog food.
OK, here’s what you need to know…
Basically, there are three kinds of artificial ingredients…
- Artificial flavoring
- Artificial coloring
- Artificial preservatives
The first type, artificial flavoring, is rarely used to make dog food. So, flavoring isn’t really an issue.
The second type, artificial color, is of absolutely no interest to a dog. Do you really think a dog cares that his food is dark red… or forest green?
No… of course not.
Artificial colors are only added to a dog food for one sinister reason… to scam us humans into believing our dogs will be stupid enough to see the colored shapes as real pieces of meat… or fresh garden vegetables.
Hey, don’t fall for that trick. Avoid buying multicolored kibble like the one you see in the photo.
And always remember… colors and shapes are never put there to satisfy your dog. They’re added to deceive you… to mislead you into thinking you’re buying a higher quality product.
By now, I hope you’re beginning to see why you must be especially vigilant when considering the purchase of “natural” dog food.
We’ve talked about why so many companies use the word “natural” to market their products. And we’ve covered two of the three kinds of artificial additives… flavorings and colorings.
- Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, p. 129 ↩