Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our February/March issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
I have a confession to make. I eat a lot of kale. I own a “Kale University” T-shirt. I have even made kale brownies. (For the record, kale does not belong in brownies.) The point is that because I eat so much kale, I purchase it organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that provides research-based information about the toxins in our food supply and environment, kale and other leafy greens frequently contain hazardous pesticides that are toxic to the nervous system. I eat kale because I love the taste and the health benefits; I can do without the neurotoxins.
Many of today’s foods contain toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and chemical additives that have been linked to serious health issues in both people and animals. To minimize this toxic assault, I feed my family, including my four-legged son, Chase, as many organic foods as possible. Let’s take a look at why “going organic” might make sense for your canine companion.
Many people confuse “natural” foods and “organic” foods, believing the terms are interchangeable. However, there is no legal definition or regulation of natural in human or pet food, so manufacturers can use this claim without following a specific standard. As a result, the word “natural” on a label might have more to do with marketing than with the purity of the ingredients.
Unlike natural, organic is legally defined and strictly regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, so foods labeled organic must meet specific standards.
By law, USDA organic products cannot contain the following:
The benefits of feeding your dog organic foods are less about what he will get and more about what he won’t get — toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health issues, including neurological diseases, developmental disorders, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, and cancer. I believe that food should nourish the body, not pile on more chemicals and increase the toxic burden.
Foods for human consumption are allowed to contain four types of organic claims based on the amount of organic content in the product.
Pet foods displaying the seal are regulated by the USDA’s national Organic Program and must meet the same standards as human organic foods. The program has no legal authority to regulate “organic” claims on pet foods that do not voluntarily meet USDA Organic standards, so some pet foods claiming to be organic might lack any certification.
If you want to incorporate more organic foods into your dog’s diet but are put off by the higher cost, try my favorite organic money-saving tips:
Feeding your dog organic food might require additional effort or financial investment up front, but a healthy dog requires fewer expensive veterinary trips and medications. Incorporating organic food into Chase’s diet has made sense for me, and I believe it has played a large role in enabling him to gracefully mature into a healthy 15-year-old “super senior.”
Read more on food by Diana Laverdure-Dunetz:
About the author: Diana Laverdure-Dunetz, M.S., the Pet Food Diva, is an award-winning dog health writer, pet nutrition consultant, and healthy pet food advocate. She is the author (with W. Jean Dodds, D.V.M.) of the new book Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health and is currently writing her dissertation toward her master’s degree in animal science. Her weekly blog posts at petfooddiva.com discuss creating optimum health in our companion animals based on the principles of nutrigenomics, the science of how diet affects gene expression, and cellular health. Connect with her on the Pet Food Diva Facebook page and on Twitter at @PetFoodDiva.