Organic Dog Food

This is a guest post by veterinarian and writer Dr. Jennifer Coates.

National Organic ProgramMore and more people are choosing to eat organically, and it only follows that the popularity of organic dog food is increasing as well.  Organic products contain fewer pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, and artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, and dyes that can adversely affect human and pet health.

Many owners report that their dogs have fewer digestive problems, a healthier coat and skin, a lower incidence of allergies, an easier time maintaining a healthy weight, increased energy levels, and an overall improvement in quality of life when they switch to an organic dog food.  Of course, feeding organic won’t solve every problem, but it might be worth a try if your dog doesn’t seem to be thriving on his current diet.

Commercially-Available Options

A number of pet food manufacturers offer organic options for dogs.  These products are not 100% organic, but many of the major ingredients are raised organically.  Here are a few of the most popular choices.

Castor & Pollux Organix comes in both dry and canned formulations, and the company makes products for adults, puppies, and for weight management as well as treats.  Their Organix adult dog dry chicken, brown rice, and flax formula received 4 ½ stars out of 5 based on 25 reviews on amazon.com and contains:

Castor and Pollux Organic Dog FoodOrganic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Peas, Organic Millet, Organic Oats, Chicken Fat (Naturally Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Salmon Meal, Natural Chicken Flavor, Organic Quinoa, Dried Egg Product, Organic Flaxseed, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Organic Carrots, Organic Apples, Organic Broccoli, Organic Pumpkin, Organic Pears, Salt, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2 Polyphosphate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12  Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Chondroitin Sulfate, Yeast Culture (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis, Fermentation Solubles, Rosemary Extract.

By Nature makes both dry and canned versions of their organic dog food.  Their dry formula received 3 stars out of 5 based on one review on amazon.com and contains the following ingredients:

Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Organic Ground Brown Rice, Organic Ground Oats, Organic Ground Barley, Organic Peas, Fish Meal, Organic Flaxseed Meal, Tomato Pomace, Lamb Meal, Natural Flavors, Chicken Fat (Stabilized with Mixed Tocopherols), Organic Canola Oil, Monocalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Organic Dried Tomatoes, Organic Cranberries, Organic Carrots, Organic Spinach, Organic Kelp, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Niacin Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Dried Yeast Fermentation Solubles

Newman’s Own Organics makes foods for puppies, adults, and older dogs and offers canned and dry formulations as well as treats.  Newman’s Own Organics dry adult dog food earned 4 ½ stars out of 5 based on 90 reviews on amazon.com.  It contains:

Newman's Own Premium Dog FoodChicken, Organic Barley, Organic Oats, Organic Peas, Chicken Meal, Organic Sorghum, Organic Soybean Meal, Chicken Fat (Naturally Stabilized With Mixed Tocopherols [A Source of Vitamin E]), Organic Brown Rice, Organic Millet, Organic Rice, Organic Flax Seed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Organic Carrots, Chicken Liver, Sea Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Parsley, Zinc Amino Acid Complex (Source of Chelated Zinc), Choline Chloride, Iron Amino Acid Complex (Source of Chelated Iron), Vitamin E Supplement, Rosemary Extract, Manganese Amino Acid Complex (Source of Chelated Manganese), Lecithin, Copper Amino Acid Complex (Source of Chelated Copper), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Source of Vitamin C), Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Biotin, Cobalt Proteinate (Source of Chelated Cobalt), Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide (Source of Iodine), Vitamin K Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Dehydrated Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Bifidobacterium Thermophilus Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Bifidobacterium Pseudolongum Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product.

Karma Organic makes a dry food for adult dogs.  It received 1 ½ stars out of 5 based on 2 reviews on amazon.com and is made from the following ingredients:

Organic Free Range Chicken, Organic Kamut, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Oats, Organic Barley, Organic Rice Protein, Organic Whole Wheat, Organic Quinoa, Organic Sunflower Seed Meal, Organic Flaxseed Meal, Organic Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Butter, Inulin, Organic Red Beets, Organic Spinach, Organic Carrots, Organic Broccoli, Organic Blueberries, Organic Rosemary, Green Tea Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavors, Mixed Tocopherols Taurine, Beta Carotene

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Organic is a dry food that is appropriate for both adult dogs and puppies.  It earned 5 stars out of 5 based on 2 reviews on amazon.com and contains:

Organic Chicken, Organic Brown Rice, Chicken Meal, Organic Oats, Organic Millet, Organic Barley, Organic Grain Sorghum, Organic Peas, Organic Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Naturally stabilized with Mixed Tocopherols), Organic Canola Oil, Organic Flaxseed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Organic Carrots, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Organic Spinach, Organic Cranberries, Organic Tomato Pomace, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Taurine, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2), Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Inositol, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-2 Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodate, Cobalt Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Organic Parsley, Organic Rosemary, Dried Kelp, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C).

Homemade Foods

For owners who make their own dog food, any nutritionally complete recipe can be made using predominantly organic ingredients.  Owners can use the websites BalanceIt.com or Petdiets.com to design and download nutritionally balanced recipes for healthy dogs at a minimal charge.

The following is an example of a recipe developed by a veterinary nutritionist to meet the needs of a healthy, adult dog.  It produces a food with a calorie count of 1.5 kcal/gram.

1 cup organic green beans, cooked without salt and drained
½ cup organic carrots, cooked without salt and drained
4 cups cooked organic pasta, no salt added to the water
¾ pound 10% fat organic ground beef, sautéed in a pan
2 tsp corn oil
2 ½ tsp bone meal powder (available from vitamin stores)
1 multivitamin with iron, crushed
¼ tsp iodized salt
¼ tsp potassium chloride (salt substitute)
3 Tums tablets crushed
1 tsp 2% organic cottage cheese

Cook the green beans, carrots, pasta, and beef and allow to cool until they can be comfortably handled.  Place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and mix until thoroughly combined.  The food can then be divided into meals based on your dog’s caloric needs and frozen.  Thaw the meal just before it is needed and remix if it has separated.  It is ok to warm the meal in the microwave once it has thawed but do not heat it to above body temperature or the vitamin and mineral supplements may degrade.  Be sure to mix the meal thoroughly after warming to prevent your dog from burning his mouth on any hot spots within the food.

Modified from a diet by Susan Lauten, PhD

Veterinary Nutrition Service

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine

Keep in mind that all dog foods — whether they are commercially prepared or homemade, organic or not — need to meet all the nutritional requirements of the pets that eat them.  A diet that is based primarily on table scraps is never appropriate.