Many people now prefer to feed themselves and their dogs organically grown food. Manufacturers are responding with a wide range of organic dog foods. But what exactly is organic dog food? What ingredients does it contain and how do you determine if an organic dog food is truly organic and meets your dog’s needs? You can find the answers in this article.
What is organic feed?
Organic dog food contains wholly or mostly organically produced ingredients. The ingredients must meet certain criteria according to the EC Organic Regulation. Basically, these are the same as they are for organic food:
- At least 95% of the ingredients are produced according to organic criteria.
- The vegetable ingredients come from cultivation without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
- The animal ingredients contained, such as meat, dairy products or eggs are from animals from organic farms with animal welfare.
In addition to complying with legal requirements, most organic feed producers do not use flavor enhancers or preservatives. The so-called “animal by-products” are also eliminated or at least declared to be of food quality.
This means slaughterhouse waste such as hooves, offal or horn and fur. Although their use is permitted, these by-products have little nutritional value and serve mainly as fillers.
Organic meat from species-appropriate animal husbandry
In order for meat to be labeled organic and used in organic dog food, the husbandry and nutrition of the animals must meet various regulations. The focus is on the protection of the environment and animal welfare as well as species-appropriate nutrition.
Improved housing conditions
In the case of “organic”, it is particularly important that the animals are kept in a manner appropriate to their species, with access to open-air runs or pasture and – compared to factory farming – a greater amount of space. There are still rules on the equipment of the stables. For example, organic chicken requires perches, dust baths and access to the outdoors. Organic cattle must not be kept on slatted floors or tethered in the barn.
What does an organic chicken eat?
There are also differences in food compared to conventional animal husbandry. Thus, organic poultry – and also all other animals from species-appropriate, organic husbandry – may only be fed with organic feed. Genetically modified feed is not allowed; the use of antibiotics and other medications is not allowed as a preventive measure, but only if there is a real need. Growth hormones and other artificial growth accelerators are taboo.
The seal is what matters
What regulations apply to the producing farms, or more specifically the organic dog food, depends on the organic label in question. In contrast to the “EU Basic Organic Regulation”, which still sets rather moderate minimum requirements for organic farming, organic associations such as Bioland, Demeter or Naturland have much stricter rules for quality and production.
Why organic dog food?
Feeding yourself as much as possible with food from organic farming and meat from species-appropriate husbandry is a decision for environmental protection and animal welfare. So it is only logical if you also want to supply your animals with organic food. And there are several good reasons for this.
Species appropriate husbandry
At the top of the list of benefits for many organic food advocates is species-appropriate husbandry. The living conditions in factory farming are very borderline and undignified. Organic farms make sure that the organic beef, organic chicken, organic turkey or organic turkey has at least a rudimentary “nice” life before it goes to the slaughterhouse. These include needs such as species-appropriate space, access to the outdoors, air, daylight, and employment opportunities.
No preventive antibiotic administration
In conventional agriculture, medications such as antibiotics are sometimes given as a preventive measure. Residues of these can still be present in organic dog food and generate long-term resistance to a wide variety of germs.
This means that a particular antibiotic may be ineffective in an emergency. Likewise, growth hormones or concentrated feeds are used for rapid fattening: And these can also end up in your four-legged friend’s food.
In addition to animal welfare, which is given higher priority in organic farming, organic farmers also protect the environment. For example, through careful soil cultivation, sensible crop rotations, the renunciation of chemical fertilizers or the use of plant protection products. These measures in organic farming prevent the soil from constantly losing nutrients and thus becoming more and more dependent on artificial fertilization.
Healthier ingredients in organic dog food
Of course, every dog food must comply with certain guidelines in terms of ingredients. But from a purely legal point of view, many things are allowed that could potentially harm your dog. These include ingredients such as sugar or flavor enhancers. In organic dog food, many producers do not use artificial additives.
What’s in organic dog food?
Like any dog food, organic ones consist of fish, meat or meat by-products, carbohydrates in the form of cereals or potatoes as nutrients and various additives. Especially important and crucial for the health of your dog are the so-called nutritional additives. These include vitamins, minerals and trace elements that your four-legged friend needs to stay healthy.
The meat in the organic dog food comes from organic production with animal welfare. Incidentally, this also applies to fish. If animal by-products are declared in the feed, these are slaughterhouse waste. In principle, this is not bad, but you should make sure that these by-products are declared.
The vegetable ingredients in the organic dog food also come from organic farming. Depending on the organic seal at least 95% or even 100%. These are cereals or ingredients such as peas, potatoes, lentils, as well as other carbohydrate-containing plants.
Herbs and other herbal additives
In organic dog food, manufacturers often rely on the addition of herbs or fruits that provide valuable substances to the food. For example, fennel contains vitamin C and iron, rose hips strengthen the immune system due to the content of vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables supplement the feed with useful secondary plant substances, minerals and trace elements.
To keep your four-legged friend healthy and fit, he needs various minerals, trace elements and vitamins. At this point, opinions often differ. Because on the one hand these substances are indispensable, on the other hand they often have to be produced synthetically. If a dog food does not contain these additives or does not contain them in sufficient quantities, you must feed them in addition.
What does not belong in the (organic) dog food
Organic or not, some additives do not belong in any dog food. In particular, you should pay attention to this when choosing a brand:
- Animal by-products without the declaration “food grade”.
- Flavor enhancers with the E numbers E 620 to E 637
- Dyestuffs, in particular E 127, E 123 and E 101
- high grain content
- Fructose, glucose, molasses and similar sugars
Even though many dogs tolerate these ingredients without any problems, it makes sense to do without them. Sensitive dogs may react with gastrointestinal problems or develop allergies. Especially a high sugar content and many fillers quickly lead to overweight.
Which seals belong to “organic feed”?
Not all organic is created equal. This also applies to dog food. Depending on the guidelines according to which the feed is certified, there are significant differences in quality and composition.
Minimum standards are set by the EC Organic Regulation. The respective feed is labeled with the European ABCERT seal, which you surely already know from food.
Also reputable are the labels of the various organic farming associations. These include Bioland, Biokreis, Demeter, Ecoland or Naturland. When you buy food with these certifications, you can be sure that the dog food contains only organic ingredients.
Organic dog food at Öko-Test
The magazine Öko-Test tests products from all sectors in terms of health safety, environmental protection and sustainability. Organic dog food is also on the test list at irregular intervals. And this is also where some of the weaknesses that many of these feeds bring to the table become apparent: nutrient supply. According to the test results from 2017, some dog foods lack the important vitamins D and B1.
Vitamin D cannot be produced by the dog itself, but is essential for the absorption of calcium and its incorporation into your dog’s bones. Vitamin B1 is important for the nervous system and energy metabolism. There are also deficiencies in the dosage of calcium and phosphorus, as well as zinc and protein.
For you, these results mean paying close attention to what’s in the organic dog food of your choice. And even if the feed is declared as a complete feed. If important ingredients are missing, you must compensate for this with appropriate supplements. Otherwise, deficiency symptoms will occur in the long run. Alternatively, you can also feed several varieties, so that ultimately a balanced supply is ensured.
Which is better? Organic dog food wet or dry?
Organic dog food is available in both wet and dry form. Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste which food you give your dog. Because both contain organic ingredients. In terms of nutrient supply, both variants are equivalent, provided the ingredients are right. The main difference lies in the water content.
Organic dry food for dogs
Dry dog food has a water content of three to twelve percent. The meat content is processed in the form of blood, meat meal, pre-dried meat or animal by-products. Due to the low water content, dry food has a long shelf life and can therefore be left for longer.
This is especially beneficial if you feed your dog “ad libidum”. This means that the food is at his free disposal and he can eat as needed. Organic dry food is more energy-dense than wet food and therefore the amounts of food are lower. Finally, packaging also plays a role: the dry food is packaged in paper or plastic bags, so packaging waste is correspondingly low.
Dry dog food is easy to store and feed, but it also has disadvantages. Thus, the water requirement is significantly higher than for wet food. If your dog drinks too little, it can make digestion difficult and put a strain on the kidneys. Allergic dogs are at risk for exposure to food mites and therefore for food mite allergy.
Organic canned dog food
The water content in wet food is between 60 and 85%, the consistency is soft and juicy, which many dogs appreciate. In general, wet food tastes more intense. The meat components are usually composed of muscle meat and offal and animal by-products.
Since wet food is lower in energy than dry food due to the high water content, the feed quantities are higher. Especially for dogs that like to eat a lot, this is a definite plus.
One of the crucial disadvantages of wet food is its shelf life. Opened cans must be consumed in one to two days maximum. Especially in summer, the lining can not be left open for a long time. If you feed the food too cool, it can lead to stomach pains and flatulence in your dog.
Due to the reduced shelf life, many wet foods contain preservatives. Organic dog food manufacturers do without this and go other ways.
Other issues with organic wet dog food are price and packaging waste. You need larger quantities, cans are often much more expensive compared to dry food. The empty cans or bowls create quite a bit of trash to dispose of, especially with large dogs or in multi-dog situations.
Mix wet and dry food
In many cases, your dog makes the decision whether to eat dry or wet organic dog food. Often, mixed feeding is also useful. Then your dog’s total needs are made up of both varieties. Either individually or mixed.
If you mix the two types of food, make sure your dog tolerates it. Because dry and wet food and are digested at different rates. This may or may not lead to problems. You can get around this by feeding one in the morning and the other in the evening.
Which variety is the best?
There are now numerous brands with different varieties in organic quality. Thereby, from organic chicken to organic turkey, organic duck, organic beef to organic salmon, there is really everything our dogs could wish for. Senior food is also thought of. Your four-legged friend decides which one is the best. What is important for you is that his needs are met and you get all the information you need. Whether it will be organic chicken, organic duck or organic beef is up to your dog.
What dog food is produced in Germany?
Environmental protection does not only mean to pay attention to organic quality in dog food as well. Long transport routes also pollute the environment. If you want to offer your dog not only ecologically produced food, but also sustainable, it makes sense to choose products from German production.
The selection is extensive. Manufacturers such as “Wildes Land”, “Herrmann`s Manufaktur”, the Demeter-certified food brand “DEFU” or even “Bosch” offer either only or partially organic dog food that is produced in Germany.
Organic dog food – healthy food for the dog
With high-quality organic dog food, you can feed your dog with a clear conscience, contribute to environmental protection and animal welfare. However, when choosing, it is important to take a look at the list of ingredients. Because not all organic dog food is suitable as a complete food. Also, look for a reputable organic seal, so that it not only says organic on it, but is also safe in it. The best food is the one that provides you with the most information and meets the needs of our dogs.
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