(Family Features) It seems everyone is going natural these days, from skin care products and locally grown produce to wholesome, additive-free packaged goods. Now, the “natural” craze is even going to the dogs.
In a recent PetSmart survey, more than one-third of pet parents said they purchase all-natural or organic pet food products as a way to keep their pets healthy. PetSmart tries to help alleviate confusion for pet parents by carrying brands that adhere to The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standard for natural pet food. AAFCO recommends that a pet food brand should only claim to be natural if all of the ingredients and components of ingredients are true to its definition.
The definition excludes the use of any chemically synthesized ingredients in the product (for example artificial flavors, colors or preservatives) but does allow for the use of chemically synthesized vitamins, minerals or other trace nutrients. In addition to the types of ingredients that go into the pet food, where the ingredients come from is important.
“Pet parents are recognizing the importance of good nutrition,” said Gayle Franger, vice president of merchant marketing for PetSmart. “We are focused on expanding our natural food selection to include even more brands and nutritional options because every pet’s needs are unique, just like ours.”
A pet diet based on natural ingredients may help address many common pet health issues, such as dry skin and sensitive stomachs. Many of the food ingredients that provide health benefits to humans deliver similar advantages to pets.
For example, real, de-boned chicken is an excellent source of high-quality proteins, minerals and fatty acids and can support strong, lean muscles and a healthy heart. Blueberries can help support a strong immune system, and flaxseed oil can nourish a pet’s skin and coat.
Other key benefits of natural pet foods include:
- Energy and weight management support: Natural foods are made with wholesome, real ingredients so portion sizes may be less.
- Digestion aid: Meat sources such as venison, duck and salmon used in natural pet foods are highly digestible.
- Lessened food sensitivities: Natural pet foods are free of artificial colors, flavors or preservatives which can negatively impact stomach sensitivities in some pets.
The good news is there are more natural and organic pet food options than ever, with two naturals brands just made available at PetSmart – Simply Nourish and Innova. Natural pet foods for dogs and cats come in wet or dry options in a variety of flavors in formulas like low fat, life stages such as puppy or kitten, adult or senior, as well as according to pet size.
Switching to natural foods can be a positive choice for pet owners and pets, but as with any dietary change, the new food should be introduced gradually. Pets may experience intestinal upsets during diet changes, so paying close attention during the transition period is important. A veterinarian or pet care expert at your local PetSmart store can provide tips on how to change your pet’s food with minimal disruption.
For more information, visit your local PetSmart store or www.PetSmart.com/Naturals.