Canine cuisine has undergone an overhaul in recent years with a focus on things like ethical farming, earth-friendly business practices, and placing quality ingredients front and center.
Among this wave is a rise in organic dog foods, an area that has many pup parents scratching their heads. Sure, we’ve seen the label on our food at the supermarket, but dog food?
Below, we’ll discuss what organic dog food is, what it’s not, and share some of the best organic dog food available.
What Does “Organic” Mean Exactly?
The USDA has parameters foods must meet to earn the organic label (the specific requirements varying with the type of food in question). The scope includes how the food is grown, how it’s harvested, and how it’s processed.
Farmers awarded the organic label must undergo regular inspections checking for compliance, and manufacturers of organic products have their labels scrutinized for accuracy while their procedures are inspected.
It’s important to note that not every farmer has to go through the organic certification, as those who sell less than $5,000 in organic produce yearly are exempt from certification.
For the main food groups, the rules include:
- Produce: Plants must be grown in soil that’s certified to have had no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides applied to it for three years prior to harvest.
- Meat: Harvested animals must be kept in conditions that allow natural behaviors, such as pastures for grazing. Animals must be fed 100 percent organic feed (including their forage) and never given antibiotics or hormones.
- Processed: Processed foods cannot contain any artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. The ingredients must be organic, though there are some exceptions, including enzymes and pectin.
A common rule among all organic food is that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are never to be used in their growth or handling. Food isn’t the only thing that can be organic, either, with organic clothes and eco-friendly dog toys popping up on shelves, too.
The Best Organic Dog Foods
While the market of organic dog foods is still limited, there are some standout contenders that deserve a second glance. Our top picks for organic dog foods are:
1. Castor & Pollux Organix Dog Food
About: Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Dry Dog Food is a premium kibble with no added preservatives, flavors, or dyes.
Featuring both grain-free and grain-inclusive kibble formulas, it’s a solid choice for pet parents seeking organic dog food for their pupper.
- USDA-certified organic
- Contains free-range chicken as the first ingredient
- Suitable for all adult dog breeds
- Includes no corn, soy, or wheat
- Made in the USA
(Chicken & Sweet Potato) Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Potatoes, Organic Peas...,
Organic Tapioca, Organic Chicken Fat, Organic Sunflower Seed Meal, Organic Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Organic Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Chicken Liver, Organic Blueberries, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Choline Chloride, Zinc Methionine Complex, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Organic Amaranth, Mixed Tocopherols
- Quality ingredients and USDA-certified organic
- Kibble size works well for most breeds — not too big or too small
- Taste gets high marks from most dog reviewers
- Chicken is the only protein offered
- Very pricey for those with large breeds or more than one doggo
- Small bag sizes are a bummer
2. Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food
About: Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food offers your doggo high-quality proteins and organic produce in bite-sized, tasty nuggets.
Add water or broth to rehydrate and watch your pup enjoy. This food is suitable as your dog’s total diet, but you can also use it as a tasty dog food topper if you like.
- Contains real meat, organs, and bone
- Grain-free with no corn, soy, or wheat
- All life stages formula that’s suitable for all breeds
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in 5.5- and 14-ounce packages, there are several proteins to choose from, including chicken, beef, lamb, pork, duck, rabbit, venison, and a turkey/sardine blend.
(Chicken Formula) Chicken, Chicken Necks, Chicken Hearts, Chicken Livers, Organic Carrots...,
Organic Squash, Organic Kale, Organic Apples, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Broccoli, Organic Blueberries, Organic Cranberries, Organic Parsley, Organic Rosemary Extract, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Montmorillonite Clay, Fish Oil, Organic Quinoa, Organic Coconut Oil, Vitamin E Supplement, Organic Ground Alfalfa, Dried Organic Kelp, Zinc Sulfate
- Loaded with nutrient-rich organ meat
- Assortment of proteins to choose from
- Made with familiar ingredients you can pronounce
- Taste and texture are great for pickier pups or those that have dental issues
- Very expensive for use as a sole food source
- Preparation can be time-consuming and messy, along with cleanup
- Contains dehydrated raw meats, so bacterial contamination is a risk, making care during prep and cleanup a must
3. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Whole Grain Dog Food
About: The Honest Kitchen Organic Dog Food spices up mealtime for your pooch with a meaty mash of flavor, making it a hit with pickier dogs.
For this dehydrated dog food, all you have to do is simply add water, let it stand, and serve.
- All proteins are harvested from ethical farms with cage-free poultry and range-raised cattle or wild-caught fish
- Can be used as a complete meal or topper
- Uses human-grade ingredients prepared in kitchens approved for human food preparation
- Suitable for all adult dog breeds
- Made in the USA
Options: These come in 2-, 4-, and 10-pound boxes, and when water is added, these make 8, 16, and 40 pounds of food, respectively. Proteins include chicken, turkey, beef, and wild-caught fish. You can also purchase a variety pack for mixing up mealtime.
Don’t forget: You can get 30% off your first order of The Honest Kitchen by using code K930!
(Turkey formula) Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Oats, Dehydrated Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Carrots...,
Dehydrated Cabbage, Dried Apples, Dehydrated Honey, Dehydrated Organic Kelp, Dried Garlic, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D- Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement.
- While the price is higher than traditional kibbles, it’s affordable for an organic, human-grade dog food
- Manufacturer offers a 100% money-back guarantee
- The largest size makes up to 40 pounds(!) of food, ideal for large dogs or multi-dog households
- Good choice for dogs with dental issues
- Preparation can be messy and time-consuming
- Can be too rich for some dogs’ systems
4. Newman’s Own Chicken & Liver Dinner
About: Give your floof a taste of organic goodness with Newman’s Own Chicken & Liver Dinner For Dogs. The pate style is a hit for doggos and pup parents alike, as it can be easily mashed and eaten alone or mixed with kibble.
- Certified USDA organic formula
- Contains no corn or wheat
- Suitable for dogs of all life stages
- 100% of all profits go towards charitable causes
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in a 12-pack of 12.7-ounce cans and in 24 backs of 5.5-ounce cans. Protein offerings include chicken, turkey, chicken & liver, and turkey & liver.
(Chicken & Liver Formula) Buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, pea protein, peas, potatoes, canola oil, tomato pomace, roasted bison, roasted venison...,
Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Broth, Organic Chicken Liver, Tricalcium Phosphate, Organic Pea Flour, Organic Dried Alfalfa, Organic Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Calcium Carbonate
- Both grain-free (linked above) and grain-inclusive formulas available
- Price is on par with other high-quality wet canned dog foods
- Ideal for senior dogs or those with missing or weak teeth
- Your purchase will help support a good cause
- Limited to poultry proteins only, a bummer for dogs with allergies
- Not every dog’s system can handle rich canned food
5. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties
About: Make your pupperoni’s palate sing with Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties. Serve it as is or rehydrate it with water and watch your dog enjoy an organic smorgasbord of high-quality ingredients.
- Uses farm-raised proteins (except for the wild-caught fish) that use humane husbandry practices, including cage-free chickens and grass-fed cattle.
- Multiple single-source protein formulas available — a must for some dogs with food allergies or sensitivities
- Can be fed as a complete meal for all life stages
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in 5.5-, 14-, and 25-ounce packages and 13 protein recipes, including venison, chicken, duck, and lamb.
(Lamb formula) Lamb, Lamb Spleen, Lamb Liver, Lamb Heart, Lamb Kidney...,
Lamb Bone, Pumpkin Seed, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Blueberries, Fenugreek Seed, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopherols, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid
- Contains loads of yummy (and nutrient-dense) organ meat
- A wide variety of protein options is available, ideal for doggos with allergies or picky palates
- Doggos typically love the meaty patties
- Expensive to use as your dog’s sole food
- Patties’ texture can be inconsistent, with some crumbling easier than others
- Can be messier than feeding a standard kibble, especially if rehydrated
6. Tender & True Organic Chicken & Liver Recipe
About: Feed your doggo the good stuff with Tender & True Organic Chicken & Liver Recipe Dog Food, a tasty kibble made with high-quality ingredients. With bite-sized kibblets, it’s well-suited for most dog breeds.
- Made using USDA-certified organic ingredients and cage-free chickens
- Grain-free formula with no corn, soy, or wheat
- Suitable for all life stages (though not recommended as large breed puppy food)
- Made in the USA
Options: Offered in chicken and turkey formulas and in three bag sizes: 4, 11, and 20 pounds.
(Chicken & Liver recipe) Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Dried Pea, Organic Chickpea...,
Organic Flaxseed Meal, Organic Potato Flour, Organic Chicken Fat, Organic Pea Flour, Organic Chicken Liver, Organic Liver Digest Meal, Menhaden Oil, Choline Chloride, Salt, Natural Mixed Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Manganese Proteinate, Inositol, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Iron Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Sodium Selenite, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Citric Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide.
- With USDA-certified organic ingredients and G.A.P. certified cage-free chickens, this food has guarantees behind its claims.
- Formulated for all life stages, making it ideal for multi-dog households
- Isn’t as pricey as some other organic brands
- Only two poultry-based proteins are available, which can be incompatible with allergy-prone pups
- Smaller bag sizes are a pain with a big eater or multiple dogs
- Not recommended for large breed puppies
7. Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red
About: Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red is a crunchy kibble featuring a freeze-dried raw coating and a plethora of organic fruits and vegetables. This “whole prey” style of food includes loads of animal-based ingredients, like real meat, nutrient dense-organs, and cartilage.
- Great source of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
- Probiotics support doggy digestion
- All recipes meet the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages
- Made in the USA using global ingredients (none from China!)
Options: Available in Ocean, Prairie, and Red Meat recipes.
Whitefish, Salmon, Whitefish Meal, Barley, Oatmeal,...,
- Raw-coated kibble has a taste dogs love and extra protein (plus the perks of raw without the mess!)
- Loaded with great ingredients like fiber-rich pumpkin, real organic produce, and probiotics
- All life stages recipes age with your barker and suit multi-pup families
- Can be too rich for some pup’s tummies
- Pricier than everyday kibble
8. Gather Free Acres
About: Organic chicken is the primary ingredient of Gather Free Acres, a grain-free dry dog food made with non-GMO produce like blueberries and cranberries as natural sources of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Krill meal offers fatty acids to nourish your woof’s skin, coat, and brain, while eggshell meal has calcium for stronger bones.
- Uses proteins free of antibiotics and hormones
- Relies on lentils and legumes for carbohydrates instead of traditional grains
- Offers complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs
- Made in Canada with globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in chicken-based Free Acres and vegan Endless Valley.
Organic Chicken, Organic Dehydrated Chicken, Organic Peas, Lentils, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols),...,
- Uses alternative carbohydrate sources, suiting barkers with diagnosed grain allergies
- Several pet parents report improved coat and skin appearance
- Strong smell entices picky palates to give it a try
- Pricing is steep compared to everyday kibble
- Some owners concerned about DMC prefer legume-free recipes
9. Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Butcher & Bushel
A mix of organic carved turkey and vegetables in savory broth dogs adore.
About: Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Butcher & Bushel is a canned dog food featuring hunks of carved organic meat and vegetables in a pupper-pleasing stew. Rich in broth, you can feed this wet woof meal on its own or mix it into your dog’s kibble as a treat.
- Meets AAFCO nutrient profile for adult maintenance
- Grain-free recipe suits dogs with diagnosed grain allergies
- Packaged in BPA-free cans
- Made in the USA in a certified organic kitchen using small-batch methods
Options: Offered in Carved Turkey Dinner and Chopped Turkey & Chicken Dinner
Organic Turkey, Organic Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Liver,...,
- Stew texture is great for sniffers who aren’t fans of traditional pate, plus it coats kibble well
- Added moisture boosts barker hydration
- Most dogs give the taste a tail wag of approval
- Mixed proteins can be an issue for dogs with food allergies
- More protein options would be ideal (not every dog tolerates/likes poultry!)
What Is an Organic Dog Food?
Organic dog food isn’t a one-size-fits-all category. Different foods may fall under the “organic” label, but it’s worth learning what’s what before shelling out extra treat money for the O word.
There are no official organic regulations for dog food established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), but commercial producers must follow the USDA’s rules to use the USDA-certified seal or the term organic.
As with human food, the main categories of organic dog food are:
- 100% Organic: This is used for items like produce or meat that aren’t made up of other ingredients. These items are harvested from 100% organic sources.
- Certified Organic: To be certified organic, a food item must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. These foods have an official USDA seal on the packaging.
- Made with Organic Ingredients: To use this label, a food must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. They can contain non-organic materials, as well.
All manufacturers must list the USDA-accredited certifier on the food’s packaging to use the “organic” label, even if they’re not a certified organic food.
Is Organic Dog Food Better for Your Pet?
The jury’s still out on the value of organic foods for dogs, and thus far, there hasn’t been much research surrounding dogs and organic foods.
As for people, there have only been a few recent studies regarding how eating organic affects us, and much of this research has yielded mixed results.
For example, a 2012 Stanford study finding little evidence that organic foods provide additional health benefits in humans. However, a 2017 study published in Environmental Health found that organic dairy products and meat have slightly higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic versions.
Nevertheless, there are some things we do know about organic food. For example, less pesticide residue is found on organic produce as opposed to non-organic. That’s right — we said “less” pesticide residue, not “none.” While synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are prohibited in organic farming, natural ones are still allowed.
Ultimately, we know that organic farming practices are better for the environment, but we just don’t yet know if they also provide health benefits for dogs.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Feeding Your Dog an Organic Food?
If you drill into organic dog food, there are some definite pros that stand out about feeding your pooch organic, including:
- They reduce your pet’s exposure to pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and synthetic fertilizers. Even among organic foods that rely on naturally occurring pesticides or herbicides, your pooch will ingest less of them than he would when eating conventional (non-organic) food.
- They support environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices. Many of the chemicals used in conventional farming practices cause environmental harm.
- They support more ethical farming practices, such as pasture-fed cattle. Just like our dogs, the animals used to produce food should be afforded the best quality of life possible.
While the pros of organic dog foods are notable, there are some important cons to keep in mind:
- They’re more expensive. Organic farming practices are costly, which is reflected in organic brands being some of the most expensive dog foods priced at the register.
- You’ll have fewer options. Since organic dog foods are relatively new to the market, there aren’t many brands available. Some have limited protein options, as well.
- There is limited evidence of their nutritional benefits. Of the few studies surrounding organic foods, none have established a concrete correlation between organic food and a significant change in a food’s nutritional value.
Best Organic Dog Food: FAQ
Browsing new dog food can get confusing, so you may still have some lingering questions about what separates the best organic dog food from the rest. Let’s dig into the answers together.
Do they make organic dog food?
Is organic food better for dogs?
The jury’s out. Some studies have found no difference in nutrition between organic and non-organic foods, while another has noted an increase in omega fatty acids in organic food.
Is organic dog food worth it?
Maybe. If your moral compass is always aimed toward the natural side of nutrition, organic dog food may be worth it for you. Nutritionally? Maybe. No widespread, conclusive findings point to organic food being better than non-organic offerings, but one has found it to be slightly higher in fatty acids.
How do you know if a dog food is organic?
The easiest way to spot organic dog food on the shelf is to look for the USDA organic seal. Small and circular, this green-and-white emblem is easy to find in a crowd with practice.
Is organic dog food really organic?
“Organic” food can fall into two groupings: certified organic or partially organic. To be certified organic, manufacturers must source, house, and process food and ingredients carefully and undergo testing by the USDA to earn the prominent seal on their packaging.
The majority of “organic dog foods” you’ll find stateside fall into the partially organic column, using organic ingredients wherever possible but potentially have some non-organic contamination during manufacturing or the chain of custody.
Does your doggo eat organic dog food? Do you feed her any of the ones we listed today as the best organic dog food or do you offer another? Let us know in the comments!