As pet owners, we love our dogs and cats so much that the sight of buzzwords like "natural pet products" we tend to jump to the conclusion that those products are better for our pets.
The truth is, however, that products which are labeled as natural pet products may not have any more benefit for our beloved dog or cat than products which do not bear that label.
Here are a few of the things that you should look for when searching for natural pet products that will be healthy for your dog or cat.
1) Make sure that protein is right at the top of the list of ingredients when you look for natural pet foods.
You have to remember that dogs and cats, while they are domesticated, are still carnivores by biology. They need meat protein, and lots of it.
2) Make sure that the word "meal" is not appended to the protein name in the primary position. Natural pet products should use whole proteins as the main base.
This means that the primary ingredient should specify, for example, chicken or lamb or beef - not chicken meal, lamb meal, or beef meal. These are fine as secondary ingredients, but should not form the entire base of the food.
3) Look for fruits, whole vegetables, and grains to appear in prominent spots on the ingredients of natural pet products.These ingredients should be fresh and unprocessed.
There should not be a preponderance of byproducts in the ingredients (for example, rice bran instead of rice). Fresh, whole food sources give your pet the best nutrition available, and they should form the bulk of the ingredients for any product that labels itself as "natural."
4) Look for a "best used by" date that is at least six months in the future. Because natural pet products do not contain preservatives the same way that lower quality products do, you will want to make sure that you are getting the freshest possible product that you can.
5) Steer clear of any natural pet food that includes artificial sweeteners. Of course pets, just like humans, enjoy food that is sweet and good tasting more than they enjoy food that is bland.
Also just like us, however, artificial sweeteners are far from being healthy for them. In some instances, artificial sweeteners can even be worse for them when included in the pet food that you buy them, because that food is the majority of what they ingest.
6) Do not buy any pet products that list any sort of artificial colors or preservatives on their ingredients list. After all, if a food contains a lot of man-made chemicals, it can hardly be thought of as "natural" by any stretch of the imagination. No matter what definition for the word you used, chemicals and preservatives puts a pet food outside of the "natural" designation.
Since there is no regulation that oversees pet food, or specifies which pet foods can be labeled as natural pet products, it is up to us as pet owners to become obsessive label readers, and thereby advocates for the health of our beloved pets.
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