Ever wondered if you should be feeding your dog organic meat? Here are some of the advantages of ‘going organic’ and if organic meat could really improve the health of your dog
Are you thinking of feeding your dog organic meat? Since we’re currently in a cost of living crisis, it may not seem the best time to consider switching their food to a more organic alternative. But, how much are we willing to invest in the health of our dog, and do the health benefits of organic meat outweigh the higher associated costs?
Organic food and drink sales has surged over recent years, as consumers are becoming more ‘health’ focused. The media have been busy exposing the food industry by revealing the lengths that some large corporations will go to make money, while also showing us how little we know about the food that sits on our supermarket shelves. Many of these corporations use an extensive list of harmful ingredients in their products to enhance taste and profits – which could be severely impacting our health. These harmful ingredients are contributing toward obesity, autoimmunity, and heart disease, to name a few. As a result, many of us are now opting to eat more ‘clean label’ fresher foods, which are free from artificial additives or preservatives.
The most commonly purchased organic foods are fruit and vegetables – but what about the food we feed our dogs? People who switch from conventional to organic food report a boost in their energy levels, an improved complexion, a stronger immune system, and better overall health. But if organic food is better for us, how do we also know if this is the case for our furry companion?
What is organic food?
Organic food is food that has been specifically produced to comply with the standards of organic farming, which are grown or farmed without the use of:
1. Artificial chemicals, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
4. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
Organic foods must also be free of any artificial additives – including colouring, flavouring, and sweeteners.
Is feeding your dog organic meat healthier?
Our domestic dog evolved from the grey wolf – a true carnivore – that only ate meat. Arguably, dogs are now considered omnivores and tend to eat just about anything. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that your dog is an opportunist, and their willingness to eat any food has no indication on whether the food is good or bad for them. Plus, a trip down any pet food aisle can be overwhelming – with so many brands and options to consider, from raw meats and treats to conventional dried kibble.
We know that dogs have descended from a long line of meat eaters, and even though our dogs can now digest many carbohydrate-based foods, most dogs are fed some form of meat. There is no doubt that feeding our dog meat will help them grow and thrive. Plus, meat is the most complete and easily absorbable source of protein – which includes iron, selenium, and B12. The question is, is feeding your dog organic meat better for them? We all want our dog to be healthy, but is the higher price of organic meat worth it, and could switching to an organic diet cost us less in vet bills overtime?
How meat is produced can have a significant effect on our own health, along with the health of our dog. Not to mention, organic meat means better animal welfare and has less negative impacts on the environment, including better soil health and biodiversity.
Farmers raising organic meat-producing animals must comply with a set of organic farming and growing standards, which specify that:
1. High welfare standards must be consistently met, with year-round access to the outdoors, shade, and shelter, to name a few.
2. Living conditions must allow the animal to exhibit their natural behaviour.
3. The animal must be raised without the use of antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.
4. Organic farmers should not use drugs routinely to prevent disease and parasites.
5. Cattle must be pasture-raised and grazed on organic pasture, which is free from artificial fertilisers and pesticides.
6. The final meat product must be handled in a certified facility to avoid contact with any prohibited substances.
Is feeding your dog organic meat more nutritious?
As we know, diet is the biggest contributor to optimal health. As we’re becoming more health conscious, we’re now starting to think about what we are feeding our dog and how best to protect their health. Many owners are now questioning whether they are feeding their dog the right foods, and whether the food they are buying could be highly processed, low in nutrients, and what some consider ‘junk’. We are now starting to look at the labels and not rely on the nutritional information delivered to us through advertisements, where agencies are paid to make the worse ingredients appear healthy.
Interestingly, scientists have yet to agree if organic meat is ‘healthier’ than conventional meat. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence to suggest that organic meat is the healthier alternative. Organic meat means that your dog will be ingesting less harmful chemicals, such as growth hormones, fungicides, and insecticides. These chemicals can remain in the meat long after it has been packaged. Less exposure to these harmful chemicals will mean better overall health.
Key benefits of feeding your dog organic meat
1. Reduced risk of pesticide & herbicide exposure
No owner wants their dog exposed to harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, there are many illnesses that occur as a result of exposure to harmful chemicals, including pesticides. For instance, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified foods are linked to an increased risk of cancer amongst dogs and humans.
Many commercial kibble brands contain traces of these herbicides and pesticides within their food. This is because kibble often includes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – such as corn and soy. These ingredients frequently grow with the help of pesticides and herbicides – with many containing an active ingredient called glyphosate. Glyphosate is one of the most popular herbicides used across the globe and has been linked to cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, infertility, behavioural issues, and endocrine disruption.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have designated glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’, meaning it has the potential to cause cancer. Glyphosate is so powerful that it can even destroy the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which has the potential to develop into many other digestive problems, including ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. Evidence also suggests that some companies within the pet food industry add sodium nitrate to pet foods to function as a preservative. Sodium nitrate in the presence of glyphosate can be deadly, as this interaction can produce N-Nitrosoglyphosate, another probable carcinogen. These chemicals may function as great weedkillers, but are detrimental to the health of our dogs.
2. Better overall health
Organic meats are rich in nutrients that promote optimal canine health, which are free from fillers, grains, additives, and preservatives. For instance, organic meat and dairy products have a more beneficial fatty acid profile. Organic dairy products contain higher levels of good omega-3 fatty acids and higher levels of vitamin E and iron. Whereas, organic meat contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of saturated fats. A healthy balance of inflammatory Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids should be approximately 1:1. Interestingly, non-organic meat is relatively high in Omega-6 fats, which can promote many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmunity – while increased levels of omega-3 can suppress these diseases.
Since your dog will be receiving better nutrition from their organic meats, their health should automatically improve. Such benefits can include improved digestion, enhanced energy levels, better skin, and a stronger immune system. The meat your dog will ingest will also be free from harmful growth hormones, antibiotics, and toxic chemicals, which means your dog will only receive the good stuff. Remember, farmers are paid on the weight of the animals they sell, which is why they are given hormones to stimulate their growth. These are disruptive to your dog’s own hormonal system and are potentially carcinogenic.
There may be an extra cost associated with ‘going organic’, but it also seems that you could save money in the long-run by raising a much healthier dog – without the need for expensive visits to the vet. Your dog’s health is highly dependent on their diet, and since there are many advantages to ‘going organic’, it might be time to give it a go. Putting their nutritional needs first will help ensure your dog has the best possible chance of living a long and healthy life. Remember, it’s always best to seek the advice of your vet before making any changes to their diet.
- Herbicide Glyphosate found in Pet Foods – Truth about Pet Food
- Probable carcinogenicity of glyphosate | The BMJ
- My Pet Nutritionist | Glyphosate and My Dog
- Glyphosate pathways to modern diseases VI: Prions, amyloidoses and autoimmune neurological diseases (researchgate.net)