Guidelines for Finding Authentically Organic Dog Food

As with human organically labeled food, quality of organic dog food varies. In order to find authentically organic dog food, you must do your research.

What Is Organic?

The word "organic" simply means no synthetic chemicals. In human food, for a product to be labeled organic, it must meet relatively strict guidelines. However, dog food doesn't receive the same attention. Until recently, a dog food could be labeled organic if it had trace amounts of organic products in it.

Recently, however, stricter standards have been applied that require 95 percent organic ingredients to be labeled organic. If it says, "made with organic ingredients," it must contain 70 percent organic ingredients. If every product is completely organic, the label will say "100 percent organic ingredients.

The pet food industry is regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), but organic labels are not as strictly regulated as human organic labels are, so companies can break the rules without getting caught. Because of that, you still must be careful with which products you buy.

Full Disclosure

A popular pet magazine "Whole Dog Journal" produces an issue annually on the top commercial pet foods, which often reveals which companies allowed the editor to take tours of their production plants. As a general rule, if a company won't reveal information to you, it probably has something to hide.

If you are curious about the organic content of the food you buy, look up that company's web site. Many companies will reveal which products are organic in their ingredients and which are not. If you have any concerns, call the company to ask them how they arrived at these definitions.

According to AAFCO, pet food companies are not allowed to use the term "human-grade ingredients" unless they can prove that every ingredient and processing method actually is human grade. This may not be well-enforced, but few companies do use this claim. Honest Kitchen had to prove that their ingredients were human grade, and the Food and Drug Administration ruled that they, in fact, were using 100 percent human grade ingredients.

Impartial Consumer Reports

Many people concerned with providing the highest quality diets to their pets offer reviews of organic foods. Some, such as reputable publications like the Whole Dog Journal or veterinarians, are armed with more inside information than others. Many are just concerned pet owners basing their information off what has been successful for their individual pets.

When using a consumer site to determine if a diet is appropriate for your dog, look for the sources of the information. Some sites are actually designed by a particular pet food company, which obviously has its own agenda. Look for impartial sources.

Demanding Higher Standards

The bottom line is that currently, there aren't any definitive ways to determine if the food you're buying is authentically organic. In order for this to become a reality in the pet food industry, more concerned owners need to demand higher standards and challenge companies that make inaccurate claims. Until pet owners demand equal treatment from food regulating industries, they will not receive it.