Kim is a holistic health coach and a toxic-free lifestyle consultant. She obtained her studies from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
What Is Holistic Dog Food?
I'm assuming that since you are searching for information on holistic dog food, you care for your dog's health and wellbeing. Perhaps you're here because your veterinarian recommended a different, higher-quality dog food. Or maybe you're aware of the dog food recalls in the news. I'm glad you're here to learn more about this type of dog food, and I guarantee that your four-legged friend is grateful as well.
There are so many types of dog food and different brands out there. It can be quite overwhelming to choose a dog food that is a great fit for your dog.
Read on to learn how holistic dog food is different from regular dog food. I'll also give a few recommendations as to where to buy them too.
Many of the reasons why more dog owners are switching to a high-quality dog food are due to the symptoms that surface due to regular dog food.
Does your dog have any of these symptoms?
- Excessive scratching and itching
- Dandruff or dry, flaky skin
- Frequent ear infections
- Diarrhea or frequent "bathroom breaks"
- Constant licking of paws (sometimes looks red)
- Lack of energy
- Uninterested in their food
These are common symptoms that are relatively mild. Many pet owners turn to hypoallergenic dog food to help alleviate certain allergies. Most holistic practitioners agree that allergic reactions are usually the result of some kind of an underlying health problem, system imbalance, or weakened immune system.
Did you know that dogs can also be prone to diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart problems, arthritis, and other conditions that humans can have? A lot of it has to do with the quality of dog foods that are on the market.
Cheaper dog food usually contains fillers, meat byproducts, and inexpensive ingredients such as corn or wheat gluten. These fillers can cause an array of problems, such as hair and skin issues, frequent ear infections, itchiness, and other sorts of ailments.
What Does "Holistic Dog Food" Mean?
Holistic health generally means fixing the root of a health problem rather than just getting rid of the symptoms. For example, if your dog's hair gets dry and flaky, there are many shampoos out there that promise a smooth and silky coat. This shampoo may fix the symptoms, but there could be an underlying cause of the dry skin.
He could possibly be allergic to an ingredient, filler, or coloring in his food. Or, your dog could possibly be missing some important nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
Whether it's a skin condition or a digestive issue that your dog has, holistic food serves to get to the root of the problem. Since holistic food contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals, it may even solve other problems too.
Holistic dog food is created based on this definition, with the goal of providing your dog the much-needed nutrients to balance out their health and wellbeing. It is made from high-quality ingredients, such as whole grain rice, real meat, antioxidants, vitamins, probiotics, digestive enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients.
What Are the Ingredients?
While most holistic dog food brands contain different ingredients, the one thing they have in common is the nutrients that they provide.
You can expect to see the following nutrients:
- Quality protein: from fish, chicken, or pork
- Wholesome grains: for energy
- Prebiotics and probiotics: support the digestive system and provide easy absorption of nutrients
- Digestive enzymes: to help break down protein, carbohydrates, and fats
- Natural fiber: to help the food move along their digestive system and keep them "regular"
- Herbs: to help with inflammation (especially with senior dogs)
- Vitamins and minerals: for strong bones, a healthy heart, and for the benefit of other organs
- Antioxidants: to keep their immune system strong and to help prevent cancer, diabetes, and other possible diseases
Is It Worth It?
My own mother does not understand why I pay so much more for my dog's food. What she doesn't realize is that a 40-pound bag of holistic dog food has lasted twice as long compared to the old dog food that I used to feed them.
A Quick Personal Story About My Own Picky Eater
My sweet pit, Oakley, used to be a "picky" eater. He would not eat his dry food unless I mixed some real meat with 1/4 cup of chicken broth.
I remember the first time I switched him over to holistic dog food. I poured 1 cup of dry food into his bowl while I heated up his chicken in the microwave. To my surprise, he ate it all before the chicken was done heating!
Your Dog Will Be More Satisfied With Less Food
If you ever try to smell the holistic dog food, you will notice that it has a stronger scent of real food. They all look the same, but you can tell from the smell, as well as your dog's reaction, that this food is real.
Dogs require the right amount of carbohydrates and fiber to keep them full. Since this dog food contains a higher percentage of nutrients (including fiber) that come from real ingredients, your dog will be satisfied with less food and stay satiated longer. Grocery dog food brands use fillers that not only fail to provide nutrients but can also be harmful.
Each bag has a recommended feeding instruction. Many grocery store brand dog foods recommend feeding a 50 lb dog between 3–5 cups per day. Most holistic dog food brands recommend only 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups.
Although holistic dog food is much more expensive, you can save money in the long run. And you can save yourself from high vet bills later.
So yes, I truly believe it's worth it!
Which Holistic Dog Food Do You Recommend?
If this is your first time buying holistic dog food, I would recommend trying out some of the highly trusted brands. You can start off with a smaller bag, such as 5 to 10 pounds. With any changes to dog food, always introduce the food in small amounts.
Let your dog try it and make observations for a few weeks. Notice how their energy level changes and how their hair looks. Pay close attention to their poop and how often they do their business.
With that said, I recommend the following holistic dog food brands to try:
- Candidae Dry Dog Food
- Earthborn Holistic Ocean Whitefish
(Note: I do not work for any of these companies, nor did they pay me to write this article. I am simply sharing with you from personal experience, my friends' and family's experience, and my own research and readings.)
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions? Comments? Please share your experience with dog food.
MonaLisa on April 16, 2019:
My puppy had the hiccups all the time and the Dr gave me a pre/probiotic for digestion and it worked. The brand of holistic dog food I tried and my dog love’s is “Solid Gold Wee Bits and the Lamb...I mix them together and when I go to change his water the dog has disappeared and he does not have the stomach issues any longer. Love Solid Gold puppy food!
Evelia Veronica Rivera from Bridgeport, CT on November 08, 2014:
Great hub and i agree! I use Earthborn for my pups
Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 07, 2014:
I love this! Unfortunately we tried Canidae for a while and our dog developed a serious food allergy. I've Earthborne is pretty good. :)
Faith A Mullen on March 09, 2013:
Congrats on HOTD, turtlewoman! You deserved it. This is a great hub.
Kari on March 09, 2013:
I just wanted to add that cheaper dog food does label splitting as well. So you may see corn as the second ingredient and some sort of meat by-product as the first, but corn can also be the forth, sixth, and seventh ingredient - just called different things like cornmeal or corn or maize...there are more, I just can't think of them off the top of my head. In the end, corn makes up the bulk of the food and very little else is there in the way of actual nutrition.
Amanda Swiderek on March 09, 2013:
Your hub was very informative. If only every pet owner had the financial resources to purchase the best possible for their pets. Unfortunately, with the economy these days, pets are lucky if their owners even feed them, let alone select a healthy food. Sad but true. Thanks for the info.
Bob Bamberg on March 09, 2013:
It gets even better with grain-free holistic foods. Holistic foods contain rice, oatmeal, barley and sometimes rye...which don't appear to be problematic like grains such as wheat, soy, sorghum, corn, etc.
But some dogs are grain intolerant. They don't suffer an allergic reaction or hot spots necessarily, but they do develop dry, itchy skin from grains. For these dogs, grain free is ideal.
Also, the wrong treats can cancel out the benefits of holistic foods. The cute commercial where the dog runs frantically into the kitchen exclaiming, "Bacon, bacon, bacon" may make the product irresistible to buy, but the first and third ingredients are wheat. What flaxseed giveth, wheat taketh away.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 09, 2013:
This is good to know. It makes sense that holistic dog food would be an option. thanks for sharing this. I will check into it and see if they have nay for kitties.
Sending Angels to you as well.
Gerard Bianco from Portland, Maine on March 09, 2013:
I will try it for my little guy - he's worth it, for sure! Thanks for the article.
torrilynn on March 09, 2013:
thanks for sharing about holistic dog food
I've never heard of it before.
very great information.
Shravan K Acharya from India on March 09, 2013:
nice article.. just loved it!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 09, 2013:
My Schnauzer, Baby, has allergies. The Vet thinks for food (but who knows for sure). He put her on a diet that he sells.......that makes me wonder. I cook chicken and rice for her. Sometimes I mix sweet potato in with it.
This is good info for those pet owners who want to know the advantages of holistic dog food.
Voted UP, and will share. Congrats of HOTD!
Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on March 09, 2013:
I'm a cat person, but thoroughly in support of your recommendations. There are more serious health issues at stake - a diet that is truly appropriate for the dog (or cat) can add years to your pet's life. We use Taste of the Wild, and I'm wondering what you think of that brand (there are varieties for both dogs and cats).
Voted up & useful. Congrats on Hub of the Day.
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on March 09, 2013:
I'm all for feeding one's dog(s) healthy food. In fact, I prepare my dog's food in my own kitchen, using a grass-fed protein source and other organic ingredients. Yes, it costs more, but it's worth it, protecting her from allergy flareups and other illnesses. I wrote a hub about this, which you can find by going to my profile page. I no longer trust any commercial dog food, so I'll be making her food from now on.
I'm retired and live on a severely limited budget, but I'd rather do without things I used to think important (but no longer do) in order to care for my dear canine companion.
Natasha from Hawaii on March 09, 2013:
I used to give my dogs really, really nice food but I just can't afford it these days. It makes me feel really bad every time I buy a bag of 'regular' dog food because I know they love the other stuff so much more!
larakern from Georgia on March 09, 2013:
Turtlewoman- This hub is packed full of great information and great photos! I have three dogs (2 pits and a border collie) and they eat everything. But when one of them isn't feeling well or something I'll cook rice with chicken and broth and feed it too them. They really seem to love it but I haven't ever tried a holistic dog food, so I'll definitely have to give this a try! I voted up!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 09, 2013:
Excellent information on holistic dog food. This really gets me to thinking about what kibble I feed my dogs. Voted very up, shared and congrats on HOTD!
Maria Cecilia from Philippines on March 09, 2013:
For me this is a very excellent hub.... I don't always feed my dogs dog food but when I did I prefer the holistic type. but you don't recommend any brand, do you mean all holistic dog foods will do....? again great hub true worthy to be the hub of the day....
Kim Lam (author) from California on January 30, 2013:
Thanks Billy, and hello! It's such an important topic that I want to spread, especially the dog food recalls. Dogs can also get diseases like cancer, etc. My brother-in-law's dog has diabetes and he has to give it shots EVERYDAY! So sad. Thanks for visiting as always!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2013:
Very interesting my friend. I wonder how many hubs I have read over the past year; in all that time I have never seen a hub about this subject. You have cornered the market at HP with this topic. :) Well done!