2001-Sat Feb 16 14:57:14 EST 2019
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
It sounds great when your dog's or cat's food is described as "natural" or "organic," doesn't it? It's easy to imagine happy cows and chickens being raised sustainably on Farmer Jan's property. But the real definitions of those terms don't have anything to do with how farm animals are raised or the quality of the food.
In the eyes of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the term "natural" does not have an official definition. It simply means that a pet food does not contain artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a trade organization that develops nutrient standards and ingredient definitions for pet foods, says a "natural" food or ingredient is one that is made only from plant, animal or mined sources and is not produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process. Foods described as natural may not contain anything artificial, except in amounts that might occur unavoidably during manufacture. The AAFCO says the term "natural" should be used only to describe products when all of the ingredients — not counting chemically synthesized vitamins, minerals and other trace nutrients — meet this definition.
In addition, no rules govern the use of the word "organic" on pet food labels. The term "organic" refers to the conditions under which plants were grown or animals were raised. Typically, foods that claim to be organic may not contain ingredients that are genetically engineered or produced using sludge or irradiation, or that contain certain synthetic substances. They must also be free of sulfites, nitrates and nitrites. Products labeled "organic" cannot contain non-organic ingredients if organic sources are available.
It's great to look for foods that meet the ideals you desire in your pet's diet, but feeding an "organic" or "natural" diet is no guarantee against contamination. If you really want to know exactly what is in your pet's food, the best strategy is to reach out to the manufacturer — contact information is required to be on the label — and ask exactly what is meant by the terms "natural" or "organic."
More on Vetstreet:
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.