It is safe to say that every loving dog owner would like to provide their pups with the best and most delicious natural dog food, but many can’t afford the most prominent brands. Natural ingredients, no artificial preservatives, and fresh products sound great, but what happens when you want to be the best pet parent in the world, yet your wallet says no? It can make anyone feel down and like you are somehow failing your best fur friend, but the good news is that there are alternatives! Believe it or not, but it is possible to find a quality dog food with natural ingredients, without having to spend a week’s salary on each bag! How? Here are some tips for finding a healthy and natural dog food that’s within your budget.
Identifying Natural Dog Foods
Before you can find the best natural dog foods, you need to know what all-natural dog food is, and how you can identify one. You have probably walked past the dog food aisle at the supermarket millions of times, and it might seem like a piece of cake to just run down and grab a kibble bag whenever you run out? It is not that simple. Cheap dog food often contains unhealthy ingredients and additives; such as artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors, where some are known to be not only unnecessary but potentially harmful. The food dye Red #40 has been linked to for example cancer, yet strangely enough, it can still be found listed among the ingredients of some low-quality dog food brands.
Due to this, it is important to know how to single out the good from the bad. The first thing you want to do when singling out natural products is to flip the package over and read the list of ingredients. Make sure there is nothing in there that looks sketchy, such as meat flavor, since you want any flavor to come from actual meat. There was a time when the dog food business was not as knowledgeable as it is today, but now – with so many natural options available – there is no good excuse for brands to still use artificial ingredients and low-quality supplements, not when there are so many better alternatives out there. You can find affordable quality dog food – you just have to know what to look for.
A key rule is to look for ingredients that you recognize and that you know what they are! Meat should be listed and named, with for example “chicken,” “duck,” “beef” or “lamb,” and it should preferably place somewhere high on the list. Also, make sure that if the package has fresh vegetables on it – that there are vegetables listed among the ingredients. Low-quality food brands are often very good at marketing themselves, and we all know that great marketing can be somewhat misleading. Have a look for yourself and remember that most dog foods with natural ingredients will be proud enough to mention it on the packaging, yet still, it is always best to double check.
You Get What You Pay For
Yes and no, because when it comes to dog food, you often do get a better product if you are willing (and able) to spend a bit more, but it is not a rule. There are expensive dog foods that aren’t that great and cheaper options which are still good choices for your pup’s diet. Don’t get too hung up on the price nor on famous brands and pay more attention to the nutritional content of the bag or of the can you are considering. Some food brands – both good and bad – are well known simply because they have the funds to market themselves, and you shouldn’t be surprised if an anonymous natural dog food hides on a shelf at the grocery store or the local pet shop.
It is just like with popular clothing brands; you sometimes end up paying extra just for the brand, when you could really find an identical t-shirt for a third of the price – but without the famous logo. Dog food is no exception. While famous brands have often earned their reputation, there are plenty of low-quality brands that continue to sell products all over the world, simply thanks to money and marketing. This should make you realize that there may be great natural options out there that fit your budget, even though you have never heard of them. Once you learn what you should be looking for in dog food – there is nothing stopping you from finding them.
The Grocery Store – Always a No-No?
Many dog enthusiasts will tell you never to buy your dog food at a grocery store or over at the supermarket, but there is a bit of ignorance in this statement. Yes, most grocery store brands are bad and considered low-quality – often filled with fillers and artificial ingredients, and as far from all-natural as they could possibly get. So, if you hope to find a natural product at your local grocery store – look right past the brands you have heard of in the past.
They don’t sell any known quality brands at regular stores, and you will have to go to a pet store to find them, so you can generally look past any well-known brand you’ve seen before and aim for the more anonymous bags on the shelf. Turn them over, and inspect the list of ingredients carefully, to make sure there are no artificial ingredients, and that you understand what most of the listed items are. These are indicators of natural dog food.
Does Natural Always Mean Healthy?
Aha! This is something most people don’t think about, and many are those that are tricked into thinking that natural dog food is automatically healthy. This isn’t necessarily the case, which might come as a shock to you, but it makes sense when you think about it. Imagine picking out the worst dog food option you can find – full of preservatives, artificial colors, chemicals, and pointless fillers – and then you compare a bowl of that food to a bowl of carrots and lettuce. Would the salad bowl technically be more natural? Yes, but would it be healthy for a dog to only eat carrots and lettuce? No. It wouldn’t provide them with the nutrients they need, so while 100% natural, it wouldn’t be a healthy food option. The same goes for dog food.
It is not only a question of finding a food brand with natural ingredients, but you also need to make sure it gives your pup what he or she needs to thrive. Corn, for example, sounds natural, delicious and healthy, but it is actually a useless filler since the dog’s body cannot process it, or gain nutrients from it. You need to double check that the dog food you are considering has enough meat and protein, which you do by controlling that there is a named meat product (not an animal by-product) listed among the first 2-3 items on the list of ingredients and that the rest of the content helps contribute to a complete and nutritional diet. While most natural dog foods are healthy, the word “natural” is no guarantee.
You may not have the time to spend hours at the grocery store and the pet store reading content labels, and a great way to save both time and effort is to shop online. The internet is a powerful tool for anyone who knows how to use it, and it allows you to research different products, compare them, read user reviews and check prices. When you buy something from a pet store, there is no guarantee that you are getting the lowest price available, and it often depends on how much competition they have in the area. Because of that, you may be surprised to find the same products available online, but at a much more affordable price.
Reading dog food reviews is an important step in finding a quality dog food with natural ingredients, and you can often search by price to find something that your wallet won’t hate you for. This is something you can’t do at a physical store, and it is easier to get a general idea of what your options are before deciding which dog food to get. Read reviews, write down or save the products you find interesting, look them up on the brand website (but remember that the official website of a product will probably be biased, because of course – they want to sell what they are making), check prices on websites like Amazon and weigh pros and cons with each product. This will take you closer to finding the perfect item – perfect in terms of both quality and price – and your dog will thank you for it.
Finding a good and natural dog food at an affordable price is only hard if you make it hard, or if you don’t know what to look for; but if you educate yourself on what you want to see in a good dog food brand, then you are suddenly the one with the upper hand.