The earth-conscious movement is booming, with an increasing number of pup parents looking closely at just how eco-friendly their dog’s favorite food brand is.
Fortunately, many dog food brands and manufacturers are responding, by doing things like investing in sustainable farming methods, rethinking packaging, and cutting down on greenhouse gas production. This is giving owners a relatively easy way to ensure their four-footers are getting the nutrition they need, without unnecessarily harming the environment in the process.
But some dog food brands are accomplishing these goals a bit better than others, so you’ll still need to consider your pup’s food carefully. Today, we’ll discuss some of the most sustainable dog food brands to help you in this journey.
Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Dog Food Brands: Quick Picks
- #1 Open Farm [Most Dedicated to Sustainability & Transparency] — Uses only animal proteins from humane, ethical animal farms through partnership with Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership. Plus, Open Farm is one of the few companies with a 10-year roadmap towards reducing carbon emissions, all while implementing an emission offset program that helps protect local ecosystems
- #2 Castor & Pollux [Best Mainstream Sustainable Dog Food Brand] — While a few boutique manufacturers may be a little ahead of the curve, Castor & Pollux is likely the most eco-friendly mainstream dog food brand around. Their foods are USDA-certified organic, they utilize MSC-certified fish (in seafood-flavored recipes), and they rely on sustainably sourced ingredients.
- #3 The Honest Kitchen [Best Human-Grade Sustainable Food Brand] — If you’d like to spoil Spot with a human-grade food that also has a relatively light environmental impact, this is a great choice. In addition to providing a food origin map that allows owners to see where their ingredients come from, they utilize sustainably harvested proteins and are certified by Amazon to have a compact shipping design.
- #4 Jiminy’s [Best “Next-Level” Sustainable Dog Food Brand] — Jiminy’s isn’t the most familiar dog food brand in the world, but they do something that’s pretty revolutionary: They utilize crickets as their foods’ primary protein source. Crickets are much more environmentally friendly to raise and harvest than cattle, swine, or even chickens, yet most dogs don’t seem to mind their taste.
What Is a Sustainable Dog Food Brand?
“Sustainable” means meeting the current population’s needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainable dog food brands take this principle to heart by implementing a variety of earth-friendly practices, from responsible ingredient sourcing to environmentally conscious corporate policies.
Today’s dog food manufacturers are stepping up their green game by doing one or more of the following:
- Purchasing ingredients from small farms rather than large commercial operations
- Sourcing locally harvested ingredients, which reduces transit pollution
- Choosing organic produce and grains that are free of pesticides
- Selecting responsibly harvested fish
- Seeking ethically raised proteins from humane, cage-free, grass-fed settings
- Reducing waste in processing
- Using recyclable or recycled materials in packaging
- Using low-emission processing techniques, such as freeze-drying or dehydrating food
- Opting for more sustainable proteins, like fish, chicken, or insects instead of beef
- Employing eco-friendly corporate practices, like reducing executive plane travel
- Donating to environmental causes
- Offsetting carbon emissions by planting trees
8 Best Sustainable Dog Food Brands: Eco-Friendly Eats
Keeping the green changes some dog food manufacturers are incorporating in mind, we’ve compiled some stellar sustainable dog food brands for your browsing, including:
1. Open Farm
About: Open Farm is a sustainability-focused dog food company that manufacturers dry kibble, wet food, raw, and gently-cooked food. What makes Open Farm unique is the company’s commitment to sourcing meat only from humane local farms with ethical animal-raising practices.
Ethically-sourced meats with focus on humane farming and climate change
All recipes feature meat as the #1 ingredient and source animal proteins from humane farms. Company is also dedicated to transparency and sustainable manufacturing practices.
- Ethical and humane farming: Open Farm partners with partners with farm animal welfare organizations like Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership. to ensure that all meat proteins come from humane farms with free-range and pasture-fed beef, pasture-fed lamb, crate-free pork, and Certified HumaneⓇ turkey and chicken.
- Meat is #1: All Open Farm recipes feature meat as the first ingredient.
- No artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers: Open Farm also doesn’t use meat by-products, and only uses non-GMO, locally-sourced fruits and veggies.
- Eco-friendly packaging: Open Farm has partnered with Terracycle to create the first nationwide dog food bag recycling program, in which customers can send in their bag to be upcycled.
- Committed to climate goals: Open Farm has created a 10-year roadmap for reducing the organization’s carbon footprint and reducing emissions 42% in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals on climate change.
- Implements emissions offset program: As part of their emission offset program, Open Farm supports the preservation of important local eco-systems, such as grasslands in Southeast Colorado and the Darkwoods Forest in Canada.
- Manufactured in the USA: Open Farm dog food is manufactured in Minnesota, USA, and the company itself is based out of Ontario, Canada.
- Dedicated to transparency: Open Farm is extremely dedicated to transparency, promising to disclose its emissions data to the public annually. Additionally, the company provides a lot code tracer that allows you to see where each and every ingredient comes from when you type in your dog food bag’s code into the online tracer.
Areas for Improvement:
- Expensive: As is common with ethically and sustainably focused dog foods, Open Farm isn’t cheap.
- Imported proteins: Lamb comes from New Zealand, which may boost the company’s carbon footprint
- Not many single-protein or age-specific recipes: Open Farm offers only a couple of single-protein options (both are beef) and only a few puppy and senior-specific recipes.
Sample Ingredients (Homestead Turkey & Ancient Grains recipe) :
Turkey, Oats, Ocean, Whitefish Meal, Sorghum...,
Quinoa Coconut Oil Herring Meal Natural Flavor Brown Rice Pumpkin Salmon Oil Apples Chia Seed Potassium Chloride Salt Choline Chloride Chicory Root Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement Calcium Pantothenate Niacin Supplement Vitamin A Supplement Riboflavin Supplement Vitamin D3 Supplement Vitamin B12 Supplement Thiamine Mononitrate Folic Acid) Minerals (Zinc Proteinate Calcium Carbonate Iron Proteinate Copper Proteinate Manganese Proteinate Selenium Yeast Calcium Iodate) Taurine Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative) Cinnamon Turmeric
- Extreme focus on ethically sourced meats with a focus on humane farming
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas available
- Meat is the first ingredient in every recipe
- Strong commitment to climate change with actual goals in place
- Emphasis on transparency
- Not many single-protein options
- Not many size or age-specific recipes
2. Castor & Pollux
About: Castor & Pollux is a premium dog food manufacturer, who embraces a number of eco-friendly and sustainable practices that allow them to help protect the planet. For example, their primary formula lineup is made with certified USDA-organic produce and made without any GMOs or synthetic pesticides.
Owners looking for the most planet-friendly option available from this brand may want to check out Castor & Pollux’s Pristine lineup, which is made with wild-caught, certified-sustainable seafood.
Castor & Pollux Organix
USDA certified organic dog food made without artificial additives or GMOs.
Castor & Pollux offers more than 50 different recipes, which are all made in the USA using a variety of different eco-friendly practices.
- Organic: A USDA certified organic brand that only uses non-GMO produce and proteins
- Ethical farming: All proteins come from responsibly raised sources, including free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught fish
- MSC-certified fish: Castor & Pollux only uses fish that are caught via environmentally friendly fishing practices certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
- US-made: All of their recipes are manufactured in the USA, which helps reduce transportation-related emissions
- Charity work: This brand donates food to a number of dog rescues, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of shelter dogs
Areas for Improvement:
- Expensive: Unfortunately, sustainable foods often cost more to produce, and these costs are passed on to owners
- Packaging: We’d prefer if the brand used recycled or recyclable materials for their packaging
- Imported proteins: Lamb and beef are imported from New Zealand, which increases the food’s carbon footprint
- Beef-based recipes: Beef is one of the least environmentally friendly proteins (of course, you can simply opt for chicken or seafood-based options)
Sample Ingredients (Organix Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe) :
Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Oatmeal, Organic Barley, Organic Brown Rice...,
Organic Peas, Organic Chicken Fat, Organic Sunflower Seed Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Organic Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Chicken Liver, Organic Blueberries, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (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, Minerals (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, Organic Amarath, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness. 8B35062.
- Castor & Pollux embraces a number of earth-supporting practices
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas available
- Fair amount of protein options
- Specialty formulas available (small breed, senior, and puppy)
- A large-breed puppy option would be nice
- Pristine lineup only includes one grain-inclusive option (and that’s a beef-based recipe)
3. The Honest Kitchen
About: The Honest Kitchen is a brand committed to canine nutrition using socially and environmentally conscious methods. Focusing on small, controlled batches and innovative, eco-friendly cooking practices (such as dehydration), the Honest kitchen is reinventing how dog food is made.
The Honest Kitchen
Human-grade, dehydrated food that’s made in the USA with responsibly sourced proteins.
Choose from any of 14 different recipes, which are made by an eco-conscious company, who packages their products in an environmentally friendly manner.
- GMO-free: Uses non-GMO produce, seeds, and grains
- Lightweight by design: Dehydrated food takes up less space and requires less energy to ship, thereby reducing emissions
- Green packaging: All packaging used for these foods is reusable or recyclable
- Made in the USA: Eliminates international hauling and the associated carbon footprint
- Climate-pledge friendly: Verified by Amazon to feature a compact design, which further reduces the brand’s overall carbon footprint
- Responsibly sourced proteins: The Honest Kitchen uses only cage-free poultry, ranch-raised beef, and wild-caught fish
- Transparency: Has a food origins map, showing you exactly where certain ingredients are sourced from
- Company-wide green focus: The brand’s warehouses and production facilities are equipped with energy-efficient light sources, and company bikes are utilized at the brand’s home campus
Areas for Improvement:
- Some recipes feature beef: Cattle creates one of the largest carbon footprints of all proteins
- Not certified organic: Other brands have been certified organic by the USDA
- Imported ingredients: A portion of ingredients come from around the world, including apples, cabbage, and carrots, which increases this brand’s carbon footprint
Sample Ingredient List (Whole Grain Chicken Recipe):
Dehydrated chicken, Organic barley, Dehydrated potatoes, Organic flaxseed, Organic oats...,
Dehydrated peas, Dehydrated carrots, Dried parsley, Dried bananas, Dehydrated celery, Dehydrated organic kelp, Tricalcium phosphate, Sodium chloride, 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, EPA, DHA
- Decent number of protein options
- Easier to ship and store than traditional kibble
- Soft texture is excellent for older dogs or those with missing teeth
- Affordable for a human-grade dog food; pricing is comparable to high-quality kibble
- Can be messy to prepare
- Requires more prep than kibble
- Formulas may be too rich for dogs with sensitive systems
About: Jiminy’s is shaking up the protein game and giving owners something to chirp about — they’re using insects to supply the protein content of their recipes! Rather than using traditional proteins, which often have a relatively significant environmental impact, Jiminy’s utilizes eco-friendly bugs.
Dog foods and treats made using alternative, nutritious, and eco-friendly proteins.
Take your pick of grub- or cricket-based dog foods and treats that are nutritious, environmentally friendly, and — believe it or not — tasty to doggos.
- Made with a sustainable protein source: Insects require far less space and have a smaller environmental impact than cattle and other large farm animals
- They only use ethically raised insects: All insects are raised in biologically appropriate conditions and harvested at the end of their life cycle (just because they’re bugs doesn’t mean they should be mistreated)
- Reduced water consumption during manufacturing: Per the manufacturer, a 5-ounce bag of Jiminy’s treats uses 220 fewer gallons of water to make than treats using other proteins
- Smaller carbon footprint: Per Carbon Credit Capital measurements, Jiminy’s produces fewer greenhouse gases than foods using other proteins
- Made in the USA: No international importation (and the associated emissions) required
- Striving to do better: Company is focusing on the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals to curb their carbon footprint
Areas for Improvement:
- Use more organic ingredients: The use of organic grains and produce would be optimal for cutting down on pesticide use
- Eco-friendly packaging: Using recycled or recyclable bags would aid in reducing waste
- Transparency: Seeing where each ingredient comes from (as seen in other brand’s) would be nifty
Sample Ingredient List (Cricket Crave Formula):
Cricket, Oats, Quinoa, Sweet potato, Brown rice...,
Chickpeas, Milo, Potato protein, Peas, Canola oil, Dicalcium phosphate, Beet pulp, Flaxseed, Natural vegetable flavor, Calcium carbonate, Brewer’s yeast, Salt, Menhaden fish oil, Choline chloride, Inulin, Calcium carbonate, Zinc sulfate, Ferrous sulfate, Copper sulfate, Mineral oil, Manganous oxide, Sodium selenite, Calcium iodate, Taurine, Zinc methionine complex, Calcium carbonate, Zinc sulfate, Iron proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Copper proteinate, Copper sulfate, Manganese proteinate, Organic sunflower oil, Sodium selenite, Manganous oxide, Calcium iodate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Turmeric, Mixed tocopherols
- Excellent choice for dogs with allergies to conventional proteins
- Crickets are grubs represent remarkably eco-friendly protein choices
- Insect protein provides more omega-3 and Vitamin B-12 content than salmon
- Includes healthy grains like oats and quinoa
- No specialty formulas offered (small breed, puppy, etc)
5. Steve’s Real Food
About: Steve’s Real Food offers several different freeze-dried raw dog food options, with ingredients sourced from small, humane farms rather than large-scale operations. With a focus on quality ingredients procured from traceable sources, this brand lets you give your dog the best of the best while avoiding mystery meats and other questionable items.
- BPA-free packaging: This brand’s packaging doesn’t contain BPAs, which can leech into your dog’s food (or the environment)
- Reduced processing: Formulas use fewer processing methods like cooking, which reduces the brand’s carbon emissions
- GMO-free: No GMO ingredients are used in any of their recipes
- Ethically farmed proteins: All harvested cattle are grass-fed, and their poultry is maintained in free-range fashion
- Less waste: Raw food creates smaller, firmer poops, leading to less mess and waste bag usage
- Transparency: The manufacturer clearly lists ingredient origins on one easy-to-view page
- Made in the USA: No need for a worldwide trek before arriving at your door
Areas for Improvement:
- Recipe lineup includes beef formulas: Beef is one of the least environmentally friendly proteins
- Requires freezing/refrigeration: Some formulas require freezer space or refrigeration, which increases your overall carbon footprint, particularly if you need to invest in additional units for storage
- Certified organic: While the company states “All our ingredients are 100% natural without hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals,” they don’t explicitly state that they use organic ingredients or back it up with certifications.
- Recycled/recyclable packaging: It’d be nice if all bags were made using recycled or recyclable materials
Sample Ingredient List (Chicken Recipe):
Ground Chicken, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Livers, Chicken Gizzards, Broccoli...,
Carrots, Romaine Lettuce, Cantaloupe, Goat’s Milk, Flaxseed, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Coconut Oil, Inulin, Taurine, Green Lipped Mussel, Ground Eggshell Frozen
- Takes the guesswork (and hard work) out of creating a balanced raw diet for owners inclined to go this route
- Freeze-dried raw dog foods are likely safer than completely raw foods
- Numerous protein options to choose from
- Many owners will appreciate their relatively simple and straightforward ingredient lists
- Raw diets (even freeze-dried raw diets) do entail a bit of risk and aren’t the best choice for all puppers
- Doesn’t appear to utilize organic ingredients
6. Newman’s Own
About: Newman’s Own has banished watershed-damaging pesticides with a focus on organic produce and proteins. With an array of affordable products, including canned dog food, kibble, and treats, you can find the responsibly sourced ingredients you desire without breaking the bank.
US-based, certified-organic dog food brand that donates all profits to charitable causes.
Charitable, celebrity-backed food manufacturer that offers a variety of organic, eco-friendly kibbles, canned foods, and treats (as well as many people foods too).
- Certified organic option: The Newman’s Own Organics line has the USDA-certified organic seal — the gold standard for organic human foods (and organic dog food)
- Gives back: Newman’s own donates 100% of profits to charitable causes, including the Safe Water Network and Farmer Veteran Coalition
- Recyclable packaging: This brand uses recyclable aluminum cans, unlike some other brands, who use non-recyclable containers
- Made in the USA: Forget shipping finished goods across the world with a ton of fuel — the goodness is here!
Areas for Improvement:
- They offer beef options: Cattle is one of the least environmentally sound protein sources
- Lack of transparency: Seeing which ingredients are imported and which are domestically sourced is a guessing game, at best
Organic Chicken, Sufficient Water for Processing, Ocean Whitefish, Organic Brown Rice, Carrots...,
Oat Bran, Flaxseed, Tricalcium Phosphate, Dried Kelp, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement).
- Trusted name in the environmentally conscious food niche
- Canned and kibble options give owners options
- You’ll know that your money is helping to fund charitable causes
- Limited protein options in canned formulas
- Not always very easy to find
7. Freshpet Nature’s Fresh
About: Freshpet Nature’s Fresh has taken the fresh dog food market by storm with its twist on responsible manufacturing, from sourcing domestic ingredients to seeking more environmentally friendly business practices. By combining a hunger for better ingredients and a desire for a better tomorrow, they’ve tackled both problems handily.
- Earth-conscious cooking: All food is prepped in Freshpet’s waste-free, wind-powered kitchen
- Local sourcing: Domestic ingredients are collected from within 200 miles of the Freshpet kitchen, cutting down on transport and emissions
- Carbon offsetting: Freshpet plants trees to counter any carbon input
- Energy-smart storage: Freshpet products are housed in energy-efficient fridges in every storefront
- Smarter shipping: All products are shipping on SmartWay trucks, a more efficient model of transportation
- Certified non-GMO: Some Freshpet lines are certified non-GMO
- Sources humanely raised proteins: All proteins are GAP-certified for animal welfare
- Made in the USA: No fuel-wasting international shipping required
- Mostly sourced from USA: 97% of Freshpet ingredients are sourced domestically, cutting down on transport and fossil fuel usage
Areas for Improvement:
- Beef inclusion: Some formulas use beef, one of the least eco-friendly proteins
- Packaging: We’d prefer if the brand used recycled or reusable packaging
- Requires refrigeration: Refrigeration uses energy, increasing greenhouse emissions. This is not really avoidable with fresh options, but still a drawback to consider, especially if you need a secondary unit at home for dog food storage.
Chicken, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Pea Protein, Egg...,
Pea Fiber, Natural Flavors, Ocean Whitefish, Salt, Vinegar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Spinach, Inulin, Beta-Carotene, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Green Tea Extract, Celery Powder, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid).
- Several options that are great for dogs with dental issues
- Great alternative to canned formulas
- Single-source protein options are great for dogs with sensitivities
- The brand’s wind-powered kitchen is an amazing eco-friendly achievement
- Requires refrigeration
- Cleanup can get messy
8. Tender & True
About: Tender & True lives up to their name by only sourcing proteins from ethical farms. From cage-free birds to wild-caught fish, your pooch is only getting the best humanely raised meat.
Tender & True
Certified organic dog foods, made with only ethically raised and harvested proteins.
Choose from more than 20 different nutritious, delicious, and eco-friendly recipes featuring your choice of sustainably harvested fish or poultry.
- Less problematic proteins: This brand only uses farm-raised poultry and wild-caught fish rather than environmentally impactful cattle
- Uses MSC-certified fish: All fish have the MSC seal of approval, meaning they’re fished using environmentally responsible tactics
- Certified organic: Each formula has the USDA organic seal
- Animal welfare certified: Only source ethically raised and harvested proteins
- Made in the USA: No worldwide shipping here
Areas for Improvement:
- Packaging: Recycled or reusable bags would be more eco-friendly
- Transparency: Other brands are a bit more open about where ingredients are sourced from
Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Dried Pea, Organic Chickpea...,
Organic Flaxseed Meal, Organic Potato Flour, Organic Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Organic Pea Flour, Organic Chicken Liver, Organic Liver Digest Meal, Menhaden Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), 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 (Preservative), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide.
- Fair number of food types to choose from (canned food, kibble, freeze-dried)
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas available
- Ethically harvested proteins are appealing to many owners
- We’d prefer if they also provided specialty mixes (small breed, puppy, senior, etc.)
As you can see, while there aren’t any brands that are perfect when it comes to sustainability, there are many that put in the extra effort to sustainably source ingredients and keep carbon footprints to a minimum. If you’re interested in learning about other ways you and your pooch can stay sustainable, be sure to also check out our guide to non-toxic, eco-friendly dog toys and eco-friendly dog beds.
Do you have a favorite eco-friendly dog food brand? Do you use one on our list or another? Share with us in the comments!