Pet Food Lingo

Deb D’Andrea
Nederland, CO
What’s a human to do with all the pet food naming? What is natural, what is holistic, what is organic?4theluvofdgz Everything is becoming specialized and confusing, and it is sometimes difficult to know what these terms really mean.

We’ll talk about basics, starting with ‘natural’ pet food which means there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. This food is all natural and, while does use some kind of preservative, does not use chemical preservatives to stabilize the fat in dry pet food; canned pet food requires no preservatives. A natural preservative can be vitamin E and vitamin C, and even rosemary. But if your pet is prone to seizures, I’ve read it’s best to stay clear of rosemary oil as it can trigger a seizure. I use rosemary in my K9 Liver Birthday Cakes, and always ask if the pets have any seizure history. If they do, I leave that ingredient out.

While very few foods are truly holistic, the Holistic pet food companies emphasize the whole and interdependence of ingredients, selecting each ingredient for individual benefits. Several other pet foods include synthetic components to provide necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients as required by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to provide a complete and balanced food. With Holistic foods, they achieve a complete and balanced nutrient composition as it naturally occurs within their selected ingredients.

For the Organic pet food industry, producers are inspected to ensure they adhere to the USDA’s National Organic Program and are subject to the same regulations which apply to organic foods for human consumption. “To be certified as organic, plant ingredients in pet food must be grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge. Animal ingredients must come from animals raised on organic feed, given access to the outdoors and not treated with antibiotics or hormones.” Pet foods must contain at least 95% organic ingredients and all ingredients must be fully traceable; aside from the food components, there are other regulations surrounding the ‘Organic’ label. An Organic Certificate for each USDA organic product should freely be available by the pet food manufacture to customers.

Another term thrown around is “Human-Grade Ingredients.” This is not a recognized term by the AAFCO and cannot be used on pet food labels. But it can be used when marketing their pet food online or in printed materials. There is no regulation regarding the handling and transportation of ‘human-grade ingredients,’ and once the ingredient leaves the licensed facility and travels, it is no longer considered fit for human consumption.

Till next time. Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides mobile Canine Massage, PawQuatics, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available directly from her. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or