examiner.com By: Ann Nozica
Many of us pet owners take pride in spoiling our furry friends – from letting them sleep on the bed to buying goofy toys and accessories – it is inevitable. At some point, we are all guilty of talking to our animals, doting over their every cute move, and taking tons of pictures to brag about. If anyone has ever owned a pet, they probably treated the animal like family and have felt it is their responsibility to give their pet the best of the best. Wanting to give them the best, healthiest food is one very important aspect of raising a fit animal, whether they reside indoors or out. There are tons of pet food brands sold on the market claiming to have the most nutrients; the ones with ‘organic,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘holistic’ on the label seem and we associate them as being a healthier, more natural option. But, does it really make a difference whether pet food has any of these labels and what impact do these types of pet food have to the environment?
Understanding of what exactly organic pet food is not something pet owners really thought of as being important to their pets’ diet years ago. Pets have always been notorious for having the ability to fend for themselves and there was no concern as to whether or not the ingredients in the pet food bought from the store had organic ingredients or not. The main difference between regular and organic pet food is obvious on the label. As we are all aware, the more natural the ingredients and the less chemical additives the better both for animals and humans; a simple rule of thumb is if you cannot pronounce a word on the ingredient label, do not eat it or give it to an animal to eat. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) currently has the role of monitoring and regulating the terms, definitions, and ingredients included on pet food packaging since the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is still up in the air. In regular processed pet foods, there are plenty of hard-to-pronounce additives and chemicals. Apparently more of us have been reading the label; just a year ago, close to $1 billion was spent by consumers on natural pet food, while close to $67 million was spent on organic pet food. The terms natural,organic, and holistic are used to describe pet foods and have a been thrown around for years inappropriately; if the ingredients meet USDA organic standards, it is organic and typically natural; holistic varieties are also considered to use the same organic ingredients as well, but often add other vitamins to help improve the overall pets’ health. Common ingredients in organic and natural pet food include meats, vegetables, corn, and rice. If pets are considered a member of the family, let them eat the same as their humans would!