Feeding natural puppy food to your new best friend means finding dry and wet foods that contain no chemicals, additives or preservatives. If you decide to feed your puppy natural food, or transition him from his current food to a natural product, read the ingredient labels carefully when selecting his new food. Always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your puppy’s diet.
“Natural” According to AAFCO
The word “natural” appears on many puppy foods, but its legal definition isn't very strict. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), “natural” food is derived from plants, animals or mined sources. It is processed or unprocessed, but it is not chemically produced or synthesized. Natural food contains no additives. Read the list of ingredients in natural puppy foods to ensure that they meet these standards.
Natural Does Not Mean Organic
The terms “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. "Organic" refers to how the animals used for meat protein were raised and fed, and how the fruits and vegetables in the puppy food were grown and processed. The National Organic Program sets standards for organic ingredients. Natural puppy foods are not held to these standards.
Reading the Labels
When purchasing a natural puppy food, pay close attention to the ingredients on the label. Look for verification that the content meets AAFCO nutritional requirements. Make sure that the food contains protein, carbohydrate and essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s. These ingredients should come first on the list as the primary food sources. A true natural puppy food should contain no chemicals, preservatives, byproducts, additives, artificial colors or artificial flavors.
Feeding Your Puppy Natural Food
When feeding natural food to your puppy, always make sure that he eats an age-appropriate wet or dry meal. Do not feed him adult dog food. Puppy food is designed to meet his nutritional needs during his growing phase and first year. Follow directions for proper portions and feeding schedules. Schedule regular appointments with your veterinarian to ensure that your puppy is taking in enough calories, maintaining a healthy weight and properly digesting his food.
Jennifer Carey holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from an East Coast university. She has written about topics including health, fitness, parenting and pet care since 2005.