What's difference between raw, natural, & organic petfood?

janawestwardJuly 31, 2008

I just read a rather scientific article about raw pet food and I'm a bit confused.

I just adopted the cutest female cocker spaniel puppy. I want to feed her the best fod possible to avoid all the health risks associated with her breed. I was hoping someone here could help me figure out the difference between raw, natural, and organic pet food.

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural benefit of raw pet food diets

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Raw is what it sounds like- raw meat and other stuff that balances out the required nutrients. Raw commercial foods are generally frozen, preserving the enzymes and other good stuff in raw foods while decreasing the amount of active bacteria for food safety purposes. Wysong uses a dehydration and freezing technique. You could learn how to feed raw foods at home.

Natural generally means the product doesn't have artificial preservatives or color, but it doesn't necessarily mean the food is any good- it could be mostly fillers and poor quality protein sources. For example, chicken feet is a natural product, but it isn't digestible.

Organic means the meat source was fed fed on organic diet and that whatever veggies and other stuff in the food was organically grown, but the definition of organic is not very strict. That is another issue completely. Again, an organic diet could be a poor quality food if the protein is poor and it contains undigestible fillers.

Both organic and natural pet foods are processed- usually extruded, cooked, dehydrated, and other stuff- which denatures natural enzymes, which is the jist of that article. Most pets foods are basically jerky and white bread with added vitamins and minerals that prevent nutritional disease, but are most likely not optimal. Personally, I believe that all animals, including humans, are better off on whole natural foods because of all the good things that processing and cooking removes that we just don't understand yet. However, food safety is a major concern, and our farm--> grocery store system is not really set up to make meats safe to eat uncooked, IMHO. But if you find a good source of fresh meats, take advantage of it for yourself and your dog by eating raw.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 9:19AM
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To correct and expand on the last post, feeding raw is a feeding option based on what an animal would eat in the wild. Animals never cook foods in the wild and could care less about shelf stability. Three ideologies exist in the world of raw: Complete and balanced approaches, balanced approaches, and prey model approaches. Complete and balanced approaches mix the benefits of nutritional science and raw food benefits to formulate products that at least meet and often exceed AAFCO nutrient requirements of dogs. Balanced approaches are marketing claims with no standard meaning of which essentially mean the products are a mix of meat and fruits and vegetables; oftentimes these products are referred to as mixes. Lastly, some companies produce grinds of which are a mix of meat, organ meat and bones to fulfill a market need for carnivore diets. Scientifically speaking cats are carnivores but dogs are not.

Natural is a marketing term in pet food of which has no regulated definition.

Organic is an incredibly strict federally regulated term. No company may legally use the term "organic" unless they adhere to strict (NOP) National Organic Plan regulations. This includes annual inspections to guarantee adherence to organic standards. Three options in organic exist: "100% organic," "95% organic," or "made with organic ingredients" (must contain at least 70% organic ingredients). Only the first two options may display the green USDA organic seal. Organic pet food products must be certified organic under human standards as the definitions and regulations do not allow for compromised standards allowed for conventional pet foods.

Two of the best foods for your pet come out of Wisconsin: Paw Naturaw and Stella & Chewy's. I recommend feeding their raw foods. However, Paw Naturaw offers organic, raw, frozen and dehydrated raw foods and Stella & Chewy's offers natural, raw, frozen and freeze-dried raw foods.

Learn more about the two companies at:

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Raw Dog Food and Treats, Organic Raw Frozen and Dehydrated Diets for Dogs - Paw Naturaw

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 12:12PM
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Good info from Meghane and Jeff, but I disagree that "organic" is a strictly regulated term. There may be regulations for using the term, but I see it used haphazardly and there is little oversight, especially for pet foods as we've seen..

I feed raw. Raw means raw - never cooked. Some companies offer pre-made raw patties and bones and more pet stores are carrying them. My local store carries Stella & Chewys. These pre-made raw products are usually incredibly expensive. You can make your own raw patties and freeze them for a fraction of the price.

The words "natural" and "organic" are bandied about and incorrectly used, so I disregard them - in human processed food products as well as pet foods.

To find out more about raw feeding, find the Yahoo raw feeding group - there are lots of knowledgeable people there.

I encourage anyone to feed raw, and if you cannot, feed high-quality cooked human food table scraps - meats and vegetables, no grains, no spices, nothing processed.

As examples: if you are making chicken soup, reserve some of the cooked chicken and chopped veggies before putting in the soup for your dog. If you are making meatloaf, reserve some beef (ground beef is easy to feed raw), cooked or raw, and mix whatever cooked veggie you have on hand with it, along with an egg. My dog doesn't like raw egg, so I give him lightly poached or scrambled egg - just warmed. When you buy whole chickens, save all the organ meats for the dog. Don't feed onion, and just like for humans, use starchy veggies like potatoes and carrots sparingly. This style of feeding the dog what you eat is easiest, providing you yourself are eating healthy whole foods and not subsisting on Stouffers or other processed meals!

In my opinion, these types of "table scraps" are far more healthy and nutritious that any processed pet food. If you are worried about the vitamins (that processed pet food companies spray onto their rancid offerings, so they can list them on the ingredients), then buy a vitamin supplement to add to the table scrap or raw diet.

Read more about it so you can feel comfortable with what you feed your pet.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 1:43PM
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This is not a post on the difference of the foods, but to basically warn NOT TO FEED raw salmon to a dog if you are thinking of a raw food diet.

Basically it can be fatal for dogs. Below is a link from Washington State University.

Here is a link that might be useful: Salmon Poisoning Disease

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 11:01PM
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