alternative diets for pets

Dog eating food

Thinking of going the grain-free, organic, or the raw route with your dog or cat?

Alternative diets for cats and dogs are popular, and depending on age, breed, and needs, your BFF may benefit from a diet that departs from mainstream pet food options. But before you start feeding your pet in a new and different way, always make sure their food is providing all the necessary nutrients your pet needs to remain healthy and strong.

Make an appointment

If you’re switching your pet’s diet, do it gradually over the course of a week or two. Going too fast can upset their stomach and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and more, which is a bummer for both people and pets.

Three common pet diet trends

Any diet you pick for your pet should be designed with their health in mind. In addition to all the other choices, many owners wonder, what about wet or dry dog food — does it make a difference? The answer is, it depends. Dry food is usually more nutritionally dense ounce for ounce, while wet food may provide nommier texture and taste. Both are capable of delivering quality nutrition. 

A close-up of a cat owner's hand petting his cat while the cat eats from its food bowl

Natural and organic

It makes sense that people who seek out “natural” and “organic” food for themselves want the same for their pets. Generally, here’s what those terms mean.

  • Natural pet food has not been chemically or highly processed, and does not contain additives, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.
  • Organic pet food meets similar criteria as organic people food, like avoiding conventional pesticides and artificial fertilizers, as well as food sources free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Raw food feeding

Feeding your pet a raw diet has both pros and cons. A raw diet is high in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbs — but it can be hard to balance nutritionally, upset your pet’s stomach, and carry dangerous bacteria. We recommend consulting with a veterinary nutritionist before you begin to make sure you’ve got the bases covered.

A puppy eating from its food bowl
A dog sitting by the dining table and the owner offering her some food

Homemade meals

Some pet owners don’t love the idea of store-bought pet food due to concerns about ingredients, quality, and processing. Preparing your pet’s food gives you control over what goes into their bowl and into their gut — but be aware that being your pet’s personal chef involves careful planning and prep, so consult with a veterinary expert to make sure your pet is getting the nutrients they need.

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