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 pet 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 pet 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.
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 pet 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
6 Best Sustainable Dog Food Brands: Eco-Friendly Eats
Keeping the green changes some pet food manufacturers are incorporating in mind, we’ve compiled some of the best sustainable dog food brands for your browsing, including:
1. Open Farm
About: Open Farm is a sustainability-focused pet food company that manufactures 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.
- Ethical and humane farming: Open Farm 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 bags 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 by 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 ecosystems, 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. 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.
A dehydrated dog food made with ranch-raised beef, organic whole oats, and simple garden produce -- just add water and serve!
Use code K930 to get 30% off your order!
- 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.
- 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 and 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)
- Some parents may be less than enthused at the thought of feeding pups bugs
4. 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 BPA, 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 a 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
5. 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
6. 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.
- 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.)
Best Sustainable Eco-Friendly Dog Foods: FAQ
Navigating the ins and outs of eco-conscious canine cuisine isn’t easy, so you may still have some questions. Let’s check out common ones together and see if we can answer them.
What does sustainable dog food mean?
A sustainable pet food brand uses methods to reduce waste and pollution, thereby cutting down on its environmental impact. An example might be using recyclable packaging instead of single-use plastic. Another is sourcing ingredients from local farmers instead of importing them from around the world, where they must be hauled in.
What is the most ethical meat in dog food?
Fish, chicken, and insects are the most ethical proteins used in dog food, as they have far less impact on the environment than beef. Just be sure the animals are treated humanely, such as wild-caught fish or free-range chicken.
How can I make my dog sustainable?
The easiest step is to always clean up your pup’s poop promptly, preferably in a biodegradable doggy bag to reduce plastic waste. Unscooped poop isn’t just smelly and unsightly but has an impact on the local environment.
In addition, look at your dog’s diet (food and treats) to see if your purchasing habits are wasteful. An example would be buying small plastic bags continuously instead of one large bag. You can also examine the packaging itself, as many of today’s top brands use recycled brands to cut down on plastic waste.
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 eco-friendly dog toys and eco-friendly dog beds.
Do you have a favorite eco-friendly or sustainable dog food brand? Do you use one on our list or another? Share with us in the comments!