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Since the industrialization of farming, both the human and pet food manufacturing industries have experienced many changes. Preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, synthetic ingredients and additives, and processing methods have been used to make the production of food easier and more cost-effective. Unfortunately, some of these changes aren’t the best for us or our pets.
How can you know whether your pet’s food has been subject to heavy processing or being packed with tons of cheaper, synthetic ingredients?
The key is to understand different pet food labels and what they mean. One of these labels is “natural pet food.” We know labels can be difficult to navigate, and that’s why we made this helpful guide.
What is natural pet food and what does this mean for your pet? Let’s take a closer look below.
In a modern world where food can be altered and heavily processed, finding natural pet food is important to a lot of us. But, what does “natural pet food” really mean? Here’s a regulatory definition to break it down.
The term “natural” is used to describe pet food extracted directly from plants, animals, microorganisms, or vitamins and minerals, without adding any artificially-derived substances, or processing ingredients in a way that would make them unfit for pet food consumption.
Natural pet food must be pet food that maintains the original, natural composition of each ingredient.
In order to understand what natural pet food is, we must understand what it’s made of. Natural pet food is made with whole, real ingredients.
What are whole ingredients? In short, whole ingredients are any foods that are “whole” or “complete” and haven’t been altered or changed. This includes whole fruits, vegetables, and even grains. These ingredients tend to be more nutrient-dense and retain more health benefits.
While dogs and cats require meat and protein to thrive, they also require fruits and veggies, which are typically low in sugar, high in fiber, and excellent for immune support.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that help combat free radicals and oxidative stress in the body. In other words, these compounds offer support for your pet’s body and their internal defenses against toxins, smoke, pollution, and stress.
Both fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, as well. These often include vitamin A, C, E, D, K, and a range of B vitamins.
Vegetables like peas, pumpkin, and beets, and fruits like cranberries, strawberries, and blueberries are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your furry companion thrive.
Whole grains are also essential parts of a natural pet food diet. Whole grains like quinoa and brown rice are great sources of digestible fibers and nutrients for your companion. Other grains with gluten are often excluded from premium, all-natural pet food as these can cause stomach upset, irritation, and issues with digestion.
Natural pet food also includes real meat as the first ingredients. Both dogs and cats need meat in their diets. Animal protein is essential for keeping our pets healthy. What types of real meat do dogs and cats need? Let’s take a look below.
Most types of meat are excellent for dogs and cats alike. Chicken, turkey, fish, beef, and organ meats all provide excellent sources of nutrients for our furry friends. It’s important to note that some animals can still have food allergies to some types of meat, even high-quality meats. This is why here at Optimeal® we offer a range of natural pet food options for every pet’s needs.
Meat is packed with amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are essential for health and wellness. Real meat should always be the first ingredient in pet food. If you see an ingredient labeled as a “meat by-product meal,” this can contain the leftovers and byproducts of an animal, which aren’t beneficial for our pets to consume.
Natural pet food includes whole ingredients, real meats, vitamins, and minerals. Is there anything natural pet food doesn’t include? The answer is yes! Here’s what you need to know.
Natural pet food does not contain any heavily processed ingredients. Let’s take a look at some acceptable processing methods vs unacceptable processing methods.
There are some gentle processing methods that are acceptable under natural pet food. These include drying, pelletisation, extraction without chemicals, freezing, pasteurization, concentration, grinding meat, and processes that don’t use GMOs. These avoid the use of chemicals, harmful ingredients, and extreme temperatures to maintain the natural structure and nutrient content of your pet’s food.
There are also some unacceptable processing methods that aren’t allowed under “natural pet food.” These include bleaching, oxidation with chemicals, chemical treatments, and any GMO additives or GMO-derived material. When it comes to natural pet food, these processes aren’t allowed under European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) regulations.
Natural pet food also doesn’t contain meat by-product meals. Animal by-products can include all the leftover parts of the animal, like their heads, feet, internal organs, beaks, feathers, carcasses, and bone.
Meat by-products are considered unfit for human consumption, so why feed this ingredient to your furry friend? Meat by-product meals are also found to be difficult to digest for cats and dogs, as well as a lower quality form of protein altogether.
When considering natural pet food, it’s important to consider whether this type of diet has a real impact on your pet’s health. The simple answer is yes — natural pet food does impact your pet’s health in a very positive way.
Think of it this way. As humans, we’re at our best when we’re eating well and taking care of our bodies. When you eat fresh, natural ingredients that fuel you, your mental and physical health benefit. The same goes for our furry friends!
When we feed our dogs and cats healthy pet food with natural ingredients, we’re able to support their health and wellness in more ways than one. Natural pet food can positively impact your pet’s quality of life, behavior, happiness, and energy levels, giving them more fuel to be the curious, creative, intelligent animal they are.
Your pet’s food is their fuel. Dogs and cats need proper nutrition in order to thrive. When you feed your pup or cat natural pet food with whole ingredients, real meat, and added vitamins and minerals, you’re not just supporting their health in the present, but for many years to come.
Here at Optimeal®, we know how important it is to soak in every moment with your four-legged companion. That’s why our food is designed to support your pet’s immune system daily. With natural ingredients and a range of vitamins and minerals, our pet food is focused on supporting your pet’s health from their first months on Earth through old age.
There are many different pet food terms to consider when finding the best food for your furry friend. From checking the ingredients, processing methods, and labels, navigating the various options can be overwhelming.
Optimeal® offers premium pet food that’s not only all-natural, but offers superior vitamins and minerals to support your pet’s immune health. With a range of pet food options that fit every pet’s needs, you can find the perfect pet food for your kittens, puppies, pets with dietary restrictions, and older pets alike.
Explore Optimeal® today and see why we’re one of the best natural pet foods on the market.
Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods: Why Less Is Actually Better | Food & Nutrition
FEDIAF_labeling_code_2019 | FEDIAF.
Evaluation of meat meal, chicken meal, and corn gluten meal as dietary sources of protein in dry cat food | NIH
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