Organic Pet Food

Is organic pet food regulated the same way as organic people food? The answer is yes. The USDA’s National Organic Program handles people food and pet food with the exact same set of regulations. Buying organic for your dog or cat will, of course, reduce the amount of pesticide he ingests. But it will also go a long way to help support organic farming, which in turn will help keep pesticides out of lakes, rivers, oceans, and soil. Yay!

But if you’re concerned about the chemicals your dog might be taking in, you’d do well to look at more than just his diet. Take a look at your dog’s everyday behavior and you’ll likely see him chewing, licking, and trying to eat all manner of things he comes in contact with. This is almost certainly how Fido ingests most of his daily diet of contaminants, according to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group. The report showed that dogs–as well as cats–are polluted with the same industrial chemicals that we are, and at much higher levels. Scientists believe that these exposures may be responsible for the increased rates of cancer and hypothyroidism in pets, and warn that better public health policies regarding chemicals are sorely needed to protect both people and their pets, who may be serving as metaphorical canaries in the coal mine. So sure, go ahead and feed your dog organic food if you can afford it, but don’t forget that protecting him from his surroundings will probably have even more impact. That means keeping him of out of the park if pesticides have been recently applied, replacing plastic toys that may contain BPA or phthalates with safer alternatives, and stopping him from gnawing on furniture that may be treated with stain guards or contain fire retardants. Why not lure him away from these dirty temptations with a nice, organic dog treat?

For more on a natural diet, see How to Cook for Your Pet.

Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st Century. Click here to subscribe to Plenty.

By Sarah Schmidt, Plenty magazine


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Mel, for Sharing this!

Jeramie D.
Jeramie D7 years ago

Thank you for reminding me why I started cooking for my dogs.

Heidi J.
h j7 years ago

Re Patty: Right on. Holistic and natural claims are so useless. We also use these 'claims' for our certified organic, raw dehydrated foods because competitors are forcing it down the unassuming consumer but more importantly because we really don't use anything that's not natural, or species-appropriate, and because we don't treat our products with temperatures that destroy natural nutrients. Most commercial pet foods are dead. Even some pet foods that are marketed as 'raw' (i.e., some dehydrated ones) are a mixture of dried (at what temperature?) ingredients and if one looks closely, the one or other 'raw' pet food company even is described in pet food industry magazines as one that uses raw and cooked ingredients before they combine and dehydrate the mixture (again, at what temperatures?). So, buyer beware....

A good way to be confident when buying commercial pet food products is really to choose certified organic ones. I know that we at Onesta Organics have to disclose everything (ingredient sourcing -> processing, facility sanitation, pesticide use etc included) to our organic certifier. Since this disclosure is required for any USDA organic certified pet food manufacturer (and this disclosure can be accessed by government agencies at any time), I assume that none of the certified organic pet food manufacturers would with an easy heart deceive their customers.

Marilyn D.
7 years ago

Indoor only cats live almost twice as long as cats allowed outdoors. Cats lick their feet, so whatever they walk though comes into your home and goes into their body.

Our cats are happy and have a ton of toys they actually play with, and they have each other...and us. Being indoor only means they're clean and we can let them sleep with us and snuggle with us and we all get to enjoy our lives together.
We feed them human grade foods that cost more, but it's worth it to keep them healthy, and in the long run it saves us money on vet bills.
They love their good food!

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago



Bevvie M.
Bevvie M.8 years ago

Im baking and selling organic dog biscuits at most vets in Mpumalanga, and realy have wonderful feedback on improved health and condition from all the outlets.
Organic is defenitly the way to go.
Bevvie M 0824675276

Patty V.
Patty Vesalo9 years ago

PS – Many allergies issues thought to be grain are diet in-balances. Wendy Volhard speaks to this in her book “Holistic Guide to a Healthy Dog”. Also consider the quality of the grains in most pet foods. Pet food quality issue is a much bigger concern, in my opinion. My dog was tested and diagnosed allergic to chicken. Could not eat purchased chicken dog food or treats. When I started feeding raw, I was very hesitant to introduce whole, fresh, healthy chicken (no antibiotics or hormones). The dog loved it and thrived on it – no trouble. Chicken was not the problem. Diet imbalance and poor quality were.

Patty V.
Patty Vesalo9 years ago

There is so much to write about this subject. I am a dog-training instructor who studies canine nutrition. First, do not be fooled by labels, key words. For instance, "natural" and "holistic" have NO definitions that any food manufacturing has to stand by. None. Any processed food (dry or canned) has much of the good stuff (anything fresh, amino acids and vitamins and minerals) literally cooked out of it. Ingredient lists are preprocessing. Not indicative of what is put in the dog's bowl. Purina does a great job advertising Benefil. Great commercials. Very costly, you can imagine. Ever read the label? Notice that sugar (white, refined is the 6th ingredient). Oh, whole chicken, pictured big on bag, falls below 26th ingredient, carrots. Carrot illustration is b-i-g on bag. Here are a few sites to start learning about pet food:
Patty Vesalo, Akron, OH

Tsandi Crew
Tsandi Crew9 years ago

Missy, read the articles here....allergies are mainly from grain in the diet. If you will have more time if you don't have to deal with his allergy, give that time over to feeding him meat. And he will also lose weight!

Jen P.
Jennifer P9 years ago

Innova has a food line called Evo, based on the evolutionary diet of dogs and cats. They do not contain grains because, in the wild, dogs and cats wouldn't eat grains and can be a cause of food allergies in animals. DO NOT feed him Hills, Science Diet or Iams and, of course, avoid the foods that come in shapes and colors or contain corn as an ingredient. Also, giving him fish oil will really help with the skin problems. Make sure your giving him fresh water DAILY and only use tap if your water isn't treated with chlorine and flouride, otherwise use spring water.