It’s not easy choosing the best dog food. There are so many natural dog food brands out there and trends to keep up with, how do you know what food is best for your dog? Should you go for grain free food? Natural foods? Organic ingredients?
Something that vets and dog nutritionists agree on is that high-quality dog food with quality ingredients is best. Providing your dog with the best nutrition possible is one of the best things you can do to help your pet stay healthy and thrive.
There are many types of high-quality dog foods, but a lot of pet owners choose natural or organic food for their pets. Let’s take a look at what this means and how you can find the best dog food for your pet.
- What is the Difference Between Natural and Organic Dog Food?
- How to Choose the Best Natural Dog Food
- Best Natural Dry Dog Food
- 1. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Bites
- 2. Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Puppy & Small Breed Dry Dog Grain Free Food
- 3. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food
- 4. Tender & True Organic Ingredients Chicken & Liver Recipe
- 5. AvoDerm Natural Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- 6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food
- 7. Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food
- 8. Taste of the Wild High Protein Pacific Stream
- 9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
- 10. Purina Beyond Simply Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
- Best Natural Wet Dog Food
- 1. Natural Balance Delectable Delights Wet Dog Food
- 2. Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Adult Canned Wet Dog Food
- 3. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food, Adult 7+ for Senior Dogs
- 4. Purina Beyond Wild Grain Free, Natural, High Protein Adult Dog Food
- 5. Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipes Premium Canned Wet Pate
- 6. Wellness Natural Pet Food Core Hearty Cuts Natural Wet Grain Free Canned Dog Food
- 7. Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
- 8. Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Natural Wet Dog Food
- 9. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Wet Grain Free Dog Food
- 10. Farmers Market Pet Food Premium Natural Canned Wet Food
- What Is the Healthiest Most Natural Dog Food?
What is the Difference Between Natural and Organic Dog Food?
Natural and organic ingredients are not the same. But which is the best natural food?
Natural ingredients are most commonly derived from plants and animals, but they may come from mined sources, too. The important thing to know about the term “natural” is that it’s not regulated. That means that some brands might misleadingly use the word.
This is precisely why some people who want to buy natural food opt for organic dog food instead. Dog food brands can only use the term “organic” on the dog foods label if the ingredients meet certain regulatory standards put in place by the USDA. Dog food brands claiming to be organic must be made from quality ingredients grown without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers, irradiation, genetic modification, or sewage sludge. Animal ingredients must come from animals raised with access to the outdoors and raised on organic feed. Animals must also not be treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Keep these distinctions about ingredients in mind when shopping for natural dog food. Reading the food labels for ingredients is so important, and all dog foods labeled “natural” are not created equal. Choosing organic dog food is a safer bet. Plus, you should always read the natural dog food label to make sure that whatever food you’re choosing is formulated to meet your pet’s minimal nutrition standards. Look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for verification that the food has ingredients that meet your dog’s needs.
How to Choose the Best Natural Dog Food
There are so many dog foods out there, it can be tricky to find the right one, especially when you’re trying to find food that is natural and organic. Here are the things you should consider when choosing the right food for your dog.
A Balanced Recipe
Dogs need food with a specific combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, plus vitamins and minerals. Each ingredient in your dog’s food should serve a purpose, whether it’s building lean muscle or maintaining joint health. The balance of nutrients in the food depends on multiple factors, including your dog’s age and breed. Here’s a quick review of what each of these ingredients does in food.
Protein is a source of energy and helps with muscle growth. Every cell is made up of protein, so it’s important in every body system, from the heart to hair growth. Protein also helps with healing and repairing damage to cells. A high protein diet is important for growth, especially in young dogs and those who are pregnant.
Fats are a source of energy. They support brain health and encourage healthy skin and a shiny coat. A balance of fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 not only helps your dog’s coat look nice, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing skin irritation and itching.
Carbs deliver the fiber that your dog needs for a healthy GI system. They also act as a source of energy to help your dog stay active.
Vitamins and Minerals
Dogs need the right vitamins and minerals for many body processes, like nerve conduction and muscle contraction. They also help maintain a healthy metabolism and help keep your dog’s immune system working properly.
Know Your Dog
Consider your dog’s age, breed, and activity level when choosing a natural food with grain free or organic ingredients. These factors are all very important for choosing an appropriate natural dog food. For example, a puppy needs more calories than an elderly dog. Breed size matters, too. A large dog is more prone to bone and joint issues and needs a food that is aimed at preventing these things. This is precisely why there are dog food recipes with ingredients formulated for puppies, seniors, and specific breeds.
Read the Label
The best thing to do is choose a food recipe for your dog that has meat as one of the first ingredients. Dogs are omnivores and they need a variety of ingredients, including meat. Make sure the first ingredients are not grains or vegetables. These don’t have the nutritional content your dog needs as the number one ingredient in its food.
If you’re looking for the natural dog foods that are best for your dog, look for real meat ingredients. Some food manufacturers may use skeletal muscles or tissue that isn’t of the same quality as other sources. Low-quality protein can cause GI upset that affects metabolism and can lead to GI upset, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Grain-Free or not Grain-Free?
These days, there are a lot of natural dog food that are grain free, but how do you know if your dog needs one? Generally, grains are not bad for dogs, unless they have an allergy or sensitivity. If you’re not sure if you need grain free natural dog foods, talk to your vet. A lot of people assume that grains are bad, but they’re rich in carbohydrates and fiber. Food with grains are often easier to digest than grain free dog food and may help your pet maintain good GI health.
Kibble Size and More
Kibble size is much more important for your dog than you might think. Small dogs need food with smaller kibble because it fits in their mouths comfortably and is easier to chew. Big dogs need kibble that’s large enough to satisfy them without getting stuck in their throats.
The amount of food your dog needs depends on their age, activity level, breed, and size. There are a lot of calculators you can use to figure out how much your pet needs, and most dog foods come with a chart that shows you how much to feed according to weight. When in doubt, talk to your vet.
Dry vs Wet
Another thing to consider when choosing the best natural dog food for your dog is is wet vs dry. Each dog food has its pros and cons.
Wet dog food is best for hydration. If you live in a hot climate or have a dog that doesn’t drink enough water, wet dog food is a good way to maintain hydration, though your dog should always have access to freshwater.
Older dogs may lose their sense of smell, which can affect their appetite. Wet dog food has a stronger scent and is more appetizing, so it may entice a dog that’s lost its appetite to eat again. The higher water content in wet food also helps your dog feel more satisfied, which can be helpful if your dog is overweight and you’re trying to limit caloric intake.
The biggest downside of wet dog food is that it’s expensive. Wet dog food can also go bad if it sits out for too long, so if your dog doesn’t eat it right away, you have to make sure to clean it up quickly. Wet dog food also takes up a lot of room and is more difficult to store.
Dry dog food is much more economical. It’s easy to measure out exactly the right amount and you can leave it out until your dog eats without worrying about it spoiling.
One of the best things about dry dog food is that it helps clean your dog’s teeth. Some recipes are formulated with ingredients to reduce stains and tartar buildup and are shaped to scrape away plaque. Dry dog foods can also be used in toys to mentally stimulate your dog or in timed feeders when you’re not home.
You don’t have to choose one or the other. A lot of pet owners add some wet food as a topper to dry food to give their dogs a treat or entice them to eat a little more.
Best Natural Dry Dog Food
Looking for natural dry dog food? Here are 10 of the best products out there.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Bites dog food uses farm-raised chicken as the number one ingredient, delivering the high-quality protein your dog needs to grow strong and stay healthy. The Small Bites formula is perfect for dogs who prefer a smaller kibble.
In addition to farm-raised chicken, this recipe also includes ingredients like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and chicken and lamb meal. It has a healthy balance of vitamin E, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
This recipe from Castor & Pollux is specially formulated for puppies and small breeds. It’s USDA certified organic and grain-free. The first ingredient is organic chicken, raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. It’s packed with nutrient-rich superfoods like organic blueberries, organic flaxseed, and organic coconut oil. It also contains prebiotics and probiotics.
Since this food is grain-free, it contains no soy, wheat, or corn. There are also no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
If you’re looking for something a little different for your dog, take a look at this recipe from Holistic Select. Anchovy and sardine meal are the first ingredients, two protein sources that you don’t see too often in dog food. This recipe is a good choice for a dog that has sensitivities to chicken, beef, or any other popular protein options. In addition to having a unique flavor, it also delivers omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, and taurine.
This dog’s food recipe also uses natural ingredients like pumpkin, apples, cranberries, pomegranates, and blueberries. They also include pre and probiotics, digestive enzymes, and natural fiber to support healthy digestion. This recipe contains no meat by-products, wheat, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Humanely raised organic chicken is first on the ingredients list in this chicken and liver recipe from Tender & True. They use a precise blend of high-quality organic ingredients to provide the ideal balance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your dog’s overall health.
This recipe contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors and is formulated for dogs of all life stages, except large breeds that weigh over 70 pounds.
Large breed dogs have special nutritional needs, and this large breed dry dog food from AvoDerm is formulated to meet them. The nutrient-dense recipe is wheat-free, soy-free, and corn-free, so it’s great for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies. Plus, it contains no artificial flavors or preservatives.
This recipe contains omega-rich avocados to support a healthy immune system and encourage healthy skin and coats. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health, ingredients that are very important for large breed dogs.
The simple ingredients in this dog food recipe from Natural Balance provide the essential nutrition your dog needs to grow strong and healthy. If your dog is allergic or sensitive to popular proteins like chicken or beef, this recipe is a great one to try. Real duck is the number one ingredient. Not only does it deliver the protein your dog needs, but it also contains amino acids to encourage strong muscle growth.
Whole Earth Farms adult dog food recipe is a good choice for all breeds, and it’s one of the most affordable, so it’s a good choice if you’re on a budget. This recipe has chicken meal and turkey meal as the first two ingredients. A lot of people think that meals aren’t healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. Meals are made by removing water from meat. What is left behind is a concentrated protein that has a lot of flavors. What you want to avoid are by-product meals because you don’t know what parts of the animal are used.
In addition to chicken and turkey meals, ingredients include dried blueberries, rosemary, thyme, and sage, making it a delicious feast for your dog. It contains no poultry by-products, corn, wheat, or soy as well as no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
This recipe from Taste of the Wild features salmon as the number one ingredient along with other high-quality food ingredients, including millet, quinoa, sorghum, chia seeds, tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries. It uses the latest research along with AAFCO and FDA requirements to make sure it’s nutritionally balanced for your dog. All ingredients come from trusted and sustainable sources, and they never use any corn wheat filler, or artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors.
This egg-free recipe is highly digestible and contains probiotics to encourage proper GI health. The included probiotics are species-specific and added to the recipe after cooking to ensure viability.
Real meat is always the first ingredient in Blue Buffalo dog food. In this recipe, it’s deboned lamb. Other ingredients include fish meal as a source of omega fatty acids as well as barley, oatmeal, brown rice, peas, and lamb meal for extra protein.
This special blend of ingredients gives dogs the essential proteins, carbs, and fats they need for a balanced diet. Plus, Blue Buffalo includes Lifesource Bits, a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support life stage requirements and immune system health.
Purina Beyond is a high-protein dog food with only nine ingredients and added vitamins and minerals. The first ingredient is real organic chicken, raised without steroids. Other organic ingredients include brown rice, barley, chicken meal, and sunflower oil. Beyond Simply Natural contains no corn, soy, wheat, or by-product meal, but its wholesome ingredients provide everything your dog needs to thrive.
Best Natural Wet Dog Food
Does your dog prefer wet dog food? Here are 10 great options with tasty ingredients you pet will love.
This wet dog food from Natural Balance is made with high-quality ingredients in a meaty, savory broth. It contains real duck and chicken along with other wholesome ingredients, like pumpkin, potato, and sunflower oil. It’s grain-free and can be used as a meal or topper for dry kibble.
Natural Balance does nine safety tests on every batch of food and treats, each performed by trained chemists and microbiologists. They use natural ingredients you can see for delicious nutrition in every bite.
Another great all-natural wet dog food is SmartBlend from Purina ONE. Real meat is the first ingredient, and there are multiple recipes to choose from, including beef and salmon, chicken and duck, turkey and game bird, and turkey and venison.
Every ingredient in these dog food recipes has a purpose and is specifically chosen to meet the nutritional needs of your pet. There are no fillers, and each serving is high in protein.
This dog food recipe is tailored to older dogs, age seven and up. It’s made of high-quality proteins, like chicken and turkey, and other wholesome ingredients. The special senior formula supports the digestion and immune system needs of older dogs and promotes heart and bone health.
Hill’s Science Diet dog food recipes are developed with more than 220 vets, technicians, food scientists, and nutritionists to make sure they are nutritionally balanced for your dog. They’re made using all-natural ingredients with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors.
Another all-natural dog food option from Purina is Beyond Wild. This grain-free recipe comes in a few flavors, like turkey, liver and duck and beef, liver, and lamb. Real meat is the number one ingredient, and the high-protein content helps maintain lean muscle.
Beyond Wild uses prey-inspired meals that provide the same nutrient-dense diet that dogs would get in the wild. They contain no soy, corn wheat, or poultry by-product meal and they never use any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Diamond Naturals canned wet pate dog food is available in multiple varieties, including beef, chicken, and lamb. Each uses real meat as the number one ingredient, providing the amino acids necessary for strong lean muscle growth. Plus, there are real fruits, vegetables, and superfoods, like carrots, pumpkin, cranberries, blueberries, and quinoa. Diamond naturals is produced using advanced safety protocols, and they never add any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
This wet grain-free dog food from Wellness Natural has hearty cuts of real beef and venison with real vegetables, including green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples. It’s an excellent choice for a snack, mixer, or topper and contains no fillers, meat by-products, or artificial preservatives.
Wellness Natural’s dog food recipes are created by vets and nutritionists to provide an ideal balance to support your dog’s immune system and digestive health as well as encouraging a healthy coat and skin.
For a protein-rich dog food diet like nature intended, take a look at Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free wet dog food. There are many recipes to choose from, including Alpine rabbit stew with real rabbit, chunky venison and beef, and real chicken dinner. Each provides complete and balanced nutrition to maintain healthy muscles and keep up with your energetic pup.
Leading levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat, while glucosamine and chondroitin maintain joint function. The included whole grains are easily digested and help with GI health.
Nutrish dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition for dogs using real meat and fruits and vegetables. There are a variety of recipes to choose from. Beef stroganwoof incorporates tender morsels of beef with tomatoes, pasta, and green beans. Chicken muttballs with pasta includes carrots and spinach in a tasty broth. Or, go for the rustic duck stew with brown rice, carrots, and green beans.
These dog food recipes contain no soy, gluten, meat by-products, corn wheat, or artificial colors, fillers, preservatives, or flavors. Every ingredient serves a purpose and delivers high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals to support overall health.
This wet dog food from I and Love and You uses real meat as the first ingredient. It’s available in multiple flavors like Cluckin’ Good Stew, Gobble It Up Stew, and Moo Moo Venison Stew. Each is grain-free, loaded with fiber-filled fruits and vegetables like spinach, cranberries, and pumpkin instead. Healthy oils and fats, like fish oils and flaxseed oil, help maintain a healthy coat and smooth, hydrated skin.
These grain free dog food recipes contain no by-product meals, corn wheat, soy, or brown rice. There are also no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. One of the things that stands out about this product is the satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t happy, get in touch, and they’ll make it right.
Farmers Market wet dog food uses 100 percent real meat and vegetables to meet your dog’s complex nutritional needs. Meat is always the first ingredient this dog food, and each grain free recipe is enriched with vitamins and minerals to ensure strong bones and teeth.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids maintain skin and coat health, and probiotics provide digestive support to keep your dog regular. There are a few flavors to choose from, like a chicken stew with vegetables and brown rice, grain-free lamb loaf with garden vegetables, and grain-free roast chicken loaf with carrots. These dog foods are also free of artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.
What Is the Healthiest Most Natural Dog Food?
There’s no single answer for which natural dog food is the best. It depends on your dog’s breed, size, age, and whether or not it has any sensitivities or allergies. That said, we hope we gave you all the information you need to figure out which food is best for your pet’s unique needs.
Remember, there’s a difference between natural and organic dog food. Natural isn’t regulated, which means that companies can use the word on their packaging without having to prove that the product is, in fact, natural. Consider an organic recipe. For a brand to call themselves organic, certain standards must be met so you can rest a little easier that your dog is getting only the best.
No matter what food or ingredients you choose, make sure you look at the labels to make sure you’re getting something that’s the best for your dog. Think about kibble size, flavors, and whether or not your dog prefers wet or dry dog food.
We included a lot of the best dog food options for you for a variety of dog types to help you figure out which one is best for your dog. It’s difficult choosing the best natural dog food from all of the available options. Whether you want dog food that’s wet or dry, you’ll find it here.
I grew up in a household that was filled with animals. I believe that my fate as a dog-loving person was sealed in early childhood since my parents owned several dogs of varying sizes and breeds. There was no choice but to take care of and learn about dog habits and the best animal care practices — otherwise, I’d be clueless about how to go about the creatures I was surrounded by day and night.
As a life-long puppy lover, I know a thing or two about dogs and how to go about caring for them in the best way possible. Although I’m not a professionally trained dog behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian, all of my knowledge and experience with canines comes from a place of love and a deep-rooted passion for dogs and animals in general.
Seeing as dogs kept me company throughout every stage of my life, I decided to follow a different path in my academic life and obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Management and Digital Advertising, which ultimately allowed me to combine my professional training and personal experience by creating the ultimate dog lover’s resource website! Along with my husband, Dave, I run MySweetPuppy for like-minded dog lovers who want to have a single, clear, and reliable information source about anything and everything related to dogs and their well-being.